Greece: Wines for the Gods

From a country rich in history and culture and known to the world as the cradle of Western civilization comes a unique grape and wine variety. Greece played a vital role in the history of wine-making and the proliferation of global wine trade and wine lifestyle.

Being a maritime nation, Greece is still one of the world’s largest shipping powers that introduce the elegant beverage to the rest of the world.

In Greece, the biggest percentage of its national income comes from tourism. In 2014, a record of 23 million tourists visited the country, and now, continues to anticipate an increase of 2 million visitors each year.

Tourists are welcomed with Mediterranean cuisines, such as the classic Greek salata or salad, moussaka or eggplants layered with minced beef or lamb and topped with mashed potato and cooked casserole style, and of course, feta cheese. All of which are best paired with the best tasting homegrown wines.

The Rich Red

Ayioryítiko, pronounced as ah yor yee’ ti ko ,is a red wine variety, which originated from Peloponnese. This variety is believed to be the favorite of the mythical King Agamemnon.

Pair it with red meat to enjoy its rich aroma and velvet sensation. Ayioryitiko provides a fruity flavor of cassis and blackberry, and is best savored young and early.

The Smooth White

The Savvatianó variety is as easy to pronounce as it is pleasing to the tongue. It is the most widespread Greek wine with a history of over 2500 years.  It leaves the tongue the impression of peach, lemon, kiwi, banana, melon and strawberry with a relatively low amount of acidity. This famous white is mild and smooth.

The Fruity Variety

Assírtiko is a wine variety that has a great story to tell. Its cultivation has migrated from one island to another, including regions such as Halkidiki, Epanomi, Drama, Northern Greece, Peloponesse, but it reaches its peak of originality in Santorini. Most parts of Santorini preserve a serene and tranquil space for agriculture, yielding areas deemed ideal for viniculture and viticulture. The region’s fertile volcanic soil hosts the growth of copious vineyards across the island.

Rich aromas ranging from citrus and apple to honey, raisin and incense pique the senses when enjoyed young. This wine maintains high acidity even when fully ripe.

The Sweet Sip

Whether you want dessert or something to go with it, this sweet wine with notes of vanilla, cherry, dried fruits and chocolate satisfies a sweet tooth. Mavrodafni is Greece’s most extensively exported wine variety, originating from Patra and Kefalonia. It is best enjoyed after 2 to 8 years of maturation.

Greek Wines Meet the World

The domestic recession in Greece in 2009 paved the way for winemakers to expand their operations to the global market. Two years after, this strategy paid off with an increase in wine exports from 2010 to 2011. The support from the European Union, through a 7-million Euro national wine marketing fund, is also attributed to this success.

Retsina, Greece’s traditional wine handled by Gaia Wines, was recognized by the European legislation with “Traditional Appellation”. This means Retsina can only be produced in the manner in which it was traditionally made.

The first Retsina was accidentally discovered 2000 years ago when an amphora – a clay jar used for wine storage – was sealed with pine resin to eliminate oxidation. Remarkably, the resin blended well with the wine, and the rest is history.

Today, Gaia Wines makes Retsina with their modern winemaking technology adding a very calculated amount of resin, which results in an elegant and refreshing product.

Recent triumphs in expanding wine trade have opened the doors for winemakers to introduce their products in the international scene. Gaia Wines won two regional trophies and the gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards, a known wine authority.

Greek Wine Storage

Famous Greek wines, such as Ayioryítiko, Assirtiko and Mavrodafni, are best enjoyed aged. Although there are no big commercial wine cellars in Greece, some wine producers have incorporated wine cellaring in the business.

Are you a Greek wine collector based in Asia? Singapore Wine Vault will definitely appeal to your senses. It is home to a drome, a dedicated area for private wine cellars, where each cellar can be customized to a member’s wine requirements. Singapore Wine Vault members can control and access their wine stock remotely through a virtual cellar account.

Aside from these modern introductions, members also get to enjoy wine education, attend networking events with fellow wine collectors and sommeliers, and have access to exclusive dinners. Who would’ve thought that storing wine can be so fun and interactive?