Ultimate Guide to Greek Wines


Types of Greek Wines

Knowing about the popular varieties of Greek grapes will help you choose the type of wine to try. It helps to compare them to more familiar international counterparts. For instance, if a Burgundy is your hearty red of choice, try a xinomavro. Fond of merlot? You might be interested in an agiorgitiko. On the other hand, if you want a lighter white wine like a riesling, an assyrtiko from Santorini might amuse. You might start with wines that blend Greek and international grapes to help you learn the particular qualities of the Greek varieties.

Also learn to recognize the label names of the most respected winemakers and their vineyards. For example, the Boutari family is one of the founding families of modern Greek viticulture. They've become something of an empire, the Boutari Group, with six wineries. Their labels bear their own name or that of Kir-Yianni, one of their smaller holdings. The equally venerable Mercouri Estates was founded in 1860. Its signature vintage still uses the Italian cultivar imported in 1870.

Newer faces on the scene include Evangelos Gerovalliou and George Skouras. Both vintners are known for their fresh approach to using Greek-grown, French-origin varieties. Look for labels carrying their name. Wines from Carras Estate wines also show Gerovalliou's influence: He was its chief vintner until 1999.

Wines are usually chosen to go with certain foods, of course. You can serve Greek wines with any type of food, applying the general rule of pairing lighter wines with lighter-flavored foods and more assertive vintages with stronger-flavored dishes. However, Greek wines are a natural partner for Greek cuisine. A dry white moscofilero balances oil-rich appetizers like calamari and baked feta cheese. A more complex main dish, like the challenging mix of onion, garlic, eggplant, lamb, cinnamon and bechamel sauce in a traditional moussaka, calls for a full-bodied red like a xynomavro. Pair a vinsanto or other dessert wine with a Greek spice cake.

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