When people think of Greek cuisine, they often think of Gyros, baklava, or loukoumades before they think of wine. Greek wine, however, is among the best in the world and true wine connoisseurs would be well-served to explore the world of Greek wine. Jake and Telly’s Greek Taverna offers the largest selection of Greek wines in Southern Colorado.
Famous varieties of Greek Wine:
Greek winemaking is ancient, with the earliest evidence of viticulture dating back 6500 years. One of the most ancient forms of wine is Restina. The legend of retsina tells us of a Greek garrison whose city was under military threat from a Persian invasion. There was a great danger that the Greeks were going to lose and, rather than let their fresh wine fall into enemy hands, it was decided to spoil the wine by putting pine resin into the wine vats. However, the Greeks did not lose and the Persian threat passed. The legend says that ancient Greeks, being frugal people, decided not to waste the wine and discovered that they liked the added flavor of the pine pitch and began adding it to their wine, thus giving birth to Restina. The truth about Retsina is probably that the flavor of the pine came from the pine pitch used to seal wine into clay jars for shipping throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. So, if you want to drink like an ancient Roman, have a glass of retsina. It pairs perfectly with our Gyros, Pastitsio, or Lamb Shank.
There are a number of grapes that are only found in Greece, these grapes make for wines that are unlike anything else you have experienced.
Greek Wine: a few red varietals
Agiorgitiko (“St. George’s grape”) from the Peloponnese islands is also nicknamed “the blood of Herakles” because it is believed that Herakles (or Hercules in the Latin spelling) drank this wine after slaying the Nemean Lion.
Kotsifali is a varietal grown primarily in Crete and is known for producing soft colored wines with notes of herbs, spices and fruits.
Mavroudi, not to be confused with Bulgarian Mavrud, is one of the most common grape varietals in Greece. Wine from the Mavroudi grape is traditionally believed to be the wine Odysseus used to get Polyphemus drunk.
Xinomavro, or “Sour Black” the most prominent grape in Macedonia around the town of Naousa. Producing wines with complex aromas of red fruits, flowers, tomatoes, olives, dried prunes, tobacco and nuts The Xinomavro is a fantastic introduction to Greek wine.
Greek Wine: grapes in the whites
Assyrtiko may be the most well known varietal used in Greek white wine. Originating in Santorini, the grape has a distinct mineral character with hints of citrus. Assyrtiko may be the most well known varietal used in Greek white wine. Originating in Santorini, the grape has a distinct mineral character with hints of citrus.
Debina is a white wine grape variety grown in the Zitsa region of Epirus and was a favorite of Lord Byron. It is the only permitted variety in the light Greek white wine of the Zítsa appellation. Debina is often produced in an off-dry or sparkling style and has a flavor reminiscent of Granny Smith apples and the aroma of fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears.
Moschofilero is best known for producing aromatic, light bodied and delicate Greek white wines with aromas of notes of lychees, rose petals, and lemon flowers. It is cultivated primarily in the Mantinia region in the Peloponnese and is also used in the production of rosé and sparkling wine.
Robola is grown primarily around Cephalonia on Greece’s Ionian islands. At one time it was thought to be related to the Italian Ribolla, but DNA research in 2007-08 disproved this theory. Robola is a distinctive and highly regarded Greek white wine with a lot of power, acidity and extract typically producing fresh, lightly aromatic, and citrusy Greek wines.
Savatiano is the most widely-planted Greek white wine grape. It is a very old varietal that is naturally low in acidity and highly resistant to drought. It is the primary grape in Retsina, sometimes blended with Assyrtiko or Roditis to counteract its low acidity. At its best, Savatiano can produce high-quality Greek white wine, with well-balanced acidity.