Although the country has long lived in the shadows of its neighbors’ winemaking, Greece is home to one of the world’s longest-standing and most diverse viticultural scenes. There, wines are produced all over the color and flavor-profile spectrum, crafted from a variety of native and international grapes. Can’t get enough gamay in your life? Dive into the world of vlahiko or negoska. Crave acid-driven white wines? Assyrtiko and athiri promise to be up your alley.
The grapes’ names are likely unfamiliar, but don’t let that intimidate you. The wines produced from Greek varieties offer some of the most delicious and thought-provoking drinking experiences out there. Best of all, their price tags are frequently much more attractive than wines from other countries. This is what you need to know about the country’s wines.
What Is Greek Wine’s History?
Greek wine is produced all over the country, from the mountainous regions of the north to the sunny islands of the Aegean Sea. Wine has been produced in the country for more than 6,500 years, making Greece one of the earliest wine-producing countries. During ancient times, wine trade was one of the country’s most prestigious and important sectors of commerce.
What Are the Major Wine-Producing Regions in Greece?
There are eight major wine producing regions in Greece: the Aegean Islands, Central Greece, Crete, Epirus, the Ionian Islands, Macedonia, Peloponnese and Thessaly. Each of these major regions is home to numerous subregions. Greek wine regions are designated as PDOs (Protected Geographical Origins), PGIs (Protected Geographical Identifications) and Epitrapezios Oinos (table wines), similar to France’s AOP, IGP and Vin de France classifications.
What Are the Main Grape Varieties Used in Greek Wine Production?
The main white grapes in Greek wine production are Assyrtiko, Athiri, Debina, Malagouzia, Moschofilero, Roditis and Savatiano. The main red grapes in Greek wine production are Agiorgitiko, Kotsifali, Limnio, Mandilaria, Mavrodaphne, Negoska and Xinomavro.
How Is Greek Wine Made?
Greek wine ranges across all color, style and flavor-profile spectrums. Red, white, orange and rosé wines are made across Greece, in both still and sparkling format and at various levels of dryness or sweetness. Greece is also known for retsina, a traditional wine flavored with pine resin.
What Does Greek Wine Taste Like?
The flavor profiles of Greek wines vary widely and as with any other country’s wines are highly dependent on the grapes used and the specific regions in which they are grown. Wines crafted in the mountainous areas of northern Greece are frequently rather rustic, whereas sea-tinged whites from the country’s southern islands will have much more saline-driven traits.
Which Foods Should I Pair with Greek Wine?
They say what grows together goes together, and in the Greek wine game, this couldn’t be more true. If hearty meat-based dishes (think moussaka, souvlaki and gyros) are on the menu, opt for a bottle of Greek red. For Mediterranean-inspired mezze (tzatziki, bite-size spanakopita and fresh fish), look to a salty Greek white. For flavor-packed dips and spreads, Greek rosé or orange wine will have your back.
These are nine bottles to try.
Anatolikos Natural Orange Wine (Avdira)
Crafted in the village of Avdira (also known as Abdera) in the ancient area of Thrace, this skin-contact wine is made with assyrtiko and malagouzia grapes. Vinified bone-dry, the wine shows flavors of citrus rind, orange blossoms, cured meats and a touch of honey on the palate, marked by a long and lingering finish.
Domaine Glinavos Vlahiko (Ioannina)
Love Beaujolais? Then this light-bodied, fruit-driven wine is the Greek pick for you. Bright flavors of cherries, cranberries, cedar, cracked pepper and sweet spice weave together on the palate and lead to an acid-driven, refreshing finish. It’s best enjoyed with a slight chill, even more so with Greek-inspired meat and cheese boards.
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko (Santorini)
For a benchmark bottle of Greek white wine, look no further than this assyrtiko. From one of Santorini’s most renowned producers, this saline-tinged bottle jumps with flavors of freshly squeezed lemon, white flowers and briny sea salt. Sip it with raw-bar favorites for an out-of-this-world treat.
Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona Rosé (Tyrnavos)
In the central-eastern area of Thessaly, the red limniona grape is where it’s at. When it’s vinified into rosé, these charming wines often take on refreshing flavors of peaches, red fruits, blood orange and dried flowers. Domaine Zafeirakis’ bottling is no exception; even better, the estate was the first in its area to become certified organic in 2005.
Gaia Agiorgitiko (Nemea)
Hailing from Greece’s renowned wine-producing region of Nemea, this easy-drinking agiorgitiko jumps with flavors of black cherries, plums, red flowers and vanilla. For a medium-bodied red that promises to please a variety of palates, this is the bottle for you. Gaia also produces wines in Santorini; if you find yourself liking the assyrtikos on this list, you’re bound to like this producer’s expression, too.
Hatzidakis Nykteri (Santorini)
For a deeper dive into the wines of Santorini, check out this bottle of nykteri from Hatzidakis, another of the island’s leading producers. Nykteri indicates that the assyrtiko grapes for the wine were harvested at night, ensuring that freshness and acidity are retained in the fruit. For a more standard expression of the estate’s assyrtiko, try its entry-level bottling.
Kir-Yianni Single-Vineyard “Ramnista” Xinomavro (Naoussa)
In the realm of traditional xinomavro production, this producer is one of the top players. This delicious and renowned wine is produced from organically farmed fruit in the heart of Naoussa. Flavors of spicy red fruits, fresh cut herbs, tomato leaf and dried sage lead to a lingering acid-driven finish. And for those looking for a bold Greek red with an international twist, check out Kir-Yianni’s Paranga cuvée, made from merlot, syrah and xinomavro.
Stilianou Theon Dora (Crete)
For something more obscure, check out this dry white blend from Stilianou. Located just 20 minutes away from the bustling city of Heraklion, this organic blend of Thrapsathiri, Vidiano and Vilana bursts with flavors of citrus, white flowers and almond skin. Theon Dora means “gift of the gods,” and this bottle is simply that.
Tatsis Old Roots Xinomavro (Goumenissa)
Based in the northerly region of Goumenissa, Tatsis is one of the leading pioneers of natural winemaking in the area. This old-vine xinomavro shows a beautiful brick hue in the glass, leading to a palate laden with flavors of sour cherries, tomato leaf, damp earth and used leather. Think of it like nebbiolo with a natural Greek twist.
Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko is one of the most popular Greek products and recognized wine varieties in Greece and can be found all across the country since its production is not limited to one specific region but rather covers the majority of the land.What was the Greek wine that was on Saturday Kitchen? ›
Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for Olly Smith's 14 Greek wine recommendations. I was particularly thrilled to pick out a Xinomavro from Apostolos Thymiopoulos on BBC1's Saturday Kitchen, which led to Majestic reporting a sales rise of over 1,300% – equivalent to three months' sales in a single morning.How many bottles in a Nebuchadnezzar? ›
Champagne Nebuchadnezzar 15L
Nebuchadnezzars are 15 Litres of Champagne and are equal to 20 standard Champagne bottles.
Retsina from Central Greece
A specialty of Greece is a white wine infused with the sap of the Allepo pine tree. Retsina wines have aromas of linseed oil and lime peel that lead into flavors of apples and roses, with a subtle piney, saline finish.
Ouzo. Ouzo is considered the national drink of Greece. In technical terms, it is either produced by partial distillation or the admixture of plain alcohol with aromatic herbs.What wine did Julia Child use? ›
Child: It has to be a good, healthy wine, not necessarily expensive. I often use Italian Chianti. Or Noilly Pratt (dry vermouth) for white wine.What is the name of the Greek communion wine? ›
Nama (Greek: Νάμα) is a sweet red wine that is usually used in Greek Orthodox Churches in Holy Communion. It is similar to Mavrodaphne, with the difference that it is sweeter and it contains less alcohol.What wine did the Greek gods drink? ›
Ambrosia was the drink of choice for the Greek Gods: a sweet and ethereal wine so magical that merely tasting it could make you immortal. Ambrosia appears often in classical Greek poetry, but the origins of the word are obscure.What is a 9 liter bottle of wine called? ›
Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Methuselah, Salmanzar
A Rehoboam holds 4.5 litres (six bottles), a Methuselah holds 6 litres (eight bottles), and a Salmanzar holds 9 litres (twelve bottles).
Jeroboam: 3 Liters (4 bottles)
A Jeroboam is also known as a “Double Magnum.” It is typically 18″ in height and 5” wide.
Bee d'Vine magnum bottle is a double-magnum, or a Jeroboam, holding 3 liters of wine which is the equivalent of 4 standard size bottles.What is the oldest Greek wine? ›
The oldest Greek wine (2,000 years old) served today is the famous white wine, Retsina. The very same wine that the ancient Greeks drank can be tasted today.What is Santorini wine called? ›
VINSANTO wine is still produced in the same way. The name of the wine, VINSANTO (vino-santo: the wine of Santorini) proves wine's unique relation with the island.What is the best wine for Greek food? ›
Retsina and Assyrtiko, for example, are very well-known wines for Greek food pairing. Malagousia and Spilitsa Argolida are other popular wines that taste great and pair well with traditional Greek dishes. All these wines are great options to sip on wine while enjoying your meal.What is Greek drinking etiquette? ›
Traditionally, Greeks drink at every meal – even young children will be given a glass of watered-down wine. But drinking to excess is frowned on, and you are expected to stay "nice". Most Greeks do this by drinking moderately and eating mezze as they go.What is the white Greek drink? ›
Ouzo is a clear liquid. However, when water or ice is added, ouzo turns a milky-white colour. This is because anethole, the essential oil of anise, is completely soluble in alcohol at approximately 38% ABV and above, but not in water.What is the drinking age in Greece? ›
The official legal drinking age in Greece is 18 in public and you also have to be 18 to buy alcohol. In reality, these laws are not strictly enforced and in many tourist zones, they're not enforced at all.What do Greeks drink when they say Opa? ›
Considered Greece's national spirit, ouzo (the anise-flavored liqueur) is a fairly boozy drink that is typically served neat in small skinny glasses. (Yes, it's the stuff you see in the infamous drinking scene in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where they raise their glasses and say OPA!)What is the strongest Greek alcohol? ›
Kitro of Naxos
Flourishing on the Cycladic island of Naxos, the citron tree produces citron leaves from which the exclusive Kitro liqueur is made. According to the website Greek Federation of Spirit Producers, this is the driest and strongest of all Greek liqueurs, with 36% vol.
In Greece, mastiha (Greek: μαστίχα) or mastichato (Greek: μαστιχάτο) is a sweet liqueur produced with the mastika resin from the Greek island of Chios, which is distilled after hardening to crystals. Sugar is typically added. It is a sweet liqueur that is typically consumed at the end of a meal.
The wine, Vega Sicilia says, is ideal for ageing thanks to its terroir and French and American oak barrels used during the 10-year ageing process. “We use new and used 225-litre French and American oak barrels and 22,000-litre wooden vats.What is Johnny Depp's wine called? ›
They are saying Mega Pint because Hollywood Actor Johnny Depp made the term famous via it's use in the defamation trial.What wine was on Bobby and Giada? ›
It's a spectacular Brunello wine with a full-bodied, rich flavor. For their final meal in Tuscany, Bobby and Giada invite Alessandro and Emanuela back to Montalcino to cook something special. Bobby tackles the task of the Bistecca Fiorentina, and Giada makes something local: gnudi!What wine does the Orthodox Church use? ›
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, for example, sacramental wine used in the Divine Liturgy must usually be fermented pure sweet red grape wine. The Greek Orthodox Church favours the use of Mavrodaphne or Nama, while the Russian Orthodox Church favours Kagor.What do you say when giving communion wine? ›
Approach the Priest/Eucharistic minister and he will hold the chalice in front of you and say, "The Blood of Christ,. to which you respond, "Amen.What is Catholic altar wine called? ›
Communion wine is a type of altar wine, which is used for religious ceremonies. It is typically made from red or white grape juice, and can be either still or sparkling. In the Catholic Church, communion wine must meet certain requirements to be considered valid for use in Communion.Who is the Greek goddess of wine? ›
Amphictyonis/Amphictyonis, Greek goddess of wine and friendship. Bacchus, Roman god of wine, usually identified with the Greek Dionysus.What was the Greek gods favorite drink? ›
In the ancient Greek myths, ambrosia (/æmˈbroʊziə, -ʒə/, Ancient Greek: ἀμβροσία 'immortality'), the food or drink of the Greek gods, is often depicted as conferring longevity or immortality upon whoever consumed it.Do Greeks drink white or red wine? ›
Greek winemakers enjoy a Mediterranean climate with a long, warm growing season and short winters. White wines are predominant, with about 62 percent of the wines produced being white.What is a 9 Litre bottle of Champagne called? ›
Salmanazars are 9 Litres of Champagne and are equal to 12 Standard Champagne Bottles. Large Bottles of Champagne are named after Biblical figures and the Salmanazar is named after five Assyrian kings, the most famous being Salmanazar III (858-824 BC) who is remembered as a great builder.
Piccolo or Split – The smallest wine bottle that you'll find, these ones are usually used with champagne and offer you a single serving at 187.5 milliliters.What is 20 bottles of wine called? ›
A 15L bottle is referred to as a 'Nebuchadnezzar' and is equal to twenty (yes 20!) bottles, roughly 100 glasses of wine!What is slang for wine drinkers? ›
oenophile • \EE-nuh-fyle\ • noun. : a lover or connoisseur of wine.What is a triple bottle of wine called? ›
Double magnums are equivalent to two magnums – except in Burgundy and Champagne where the 3-litre format is known as a Jeroboam.What was the wine of Jesus time? ›
So wines at the time of the Bible were big, round, juicy, austere wines, red or amber in color. That austerity was often cut with water. It was basically required in the ancient world to dilute your wine with a little bit of water to round it out, and you were seen as a barbarian if you didn't do so.What are the 4 pillars of wine? ›
In parallel, it relates these utopian foundations to the development of the four pillars of winemaking: terroir, viticulture, degustation and cellars.Who in the Bible was drunk with wine? ›
After the account of the great flood, the biblical Noah is said to have cultivated a vineyard, made wine, and become intoxicated. Thus, the discovery of fermentation is traditionally attributed to Noah because this is the first time alcohol appears in the Bible.What is the oldest grape in Greece? ›
Limnio is one of the oldest grape varieties allover the world. Its origin is the Island of Lemnos, but it's widely cultivated in Northern Greece. It's a red grape variety with botanic character accompanied by aromas of red fruits.What is special about Greek wine? ›
Greece has over 200 indigenous grape varietals, including Xinomavro, Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko and Savatino. As Greece is the only country using these grapes, they produce wines that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The Greeks diluted their wine with water (1 part wine to 3 parts water), although the Macedonians scandalously drank theirs neat. This dilution helped prevent excessive alcoholism, which was (at least by the elite) considered a trait of 'barbarian' foreign cultures and which was widely parodied in Greek comedy plays.What drink is Santorini famous for? ›
Vinsanto. Vinsanto is a dessert wine hailing from Santorini. It is made with sun-dried Assyrtiko and Aidani grapes. Despite a surprisingly similar name, this Greek wine does not have much in common with the more famous Vin Santo from Tuscany.What is the most expensive wine in Greece? ›
The most expensive Greek wine, LΛPO , is a Rose that you can find at the price of 1200.00 Euro / bottle, produced in very small quantity, about 700 bottles per year . LΛΡΟ dry rose wine, is an outstanding member of the wine club, created with true passion for wine trips, modern winemaking, beautiful aromas and nature.What is the Greek version of pinot noir? ›
LIMNIONA FROM THESSALY
Limniona (“lim-nee-ona”) is Greece's answer to Pinot Noir, producing wines with fragrant aromas of red-berries and rose petals, over delicate, rounded, silky texture.
Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko is one of the most popular Greek products and recognized wine varieties in Greece and can be found all across the country since its production is not limited to one specific region but rather covers the majority of the land.Do Greeks drink wine with every meal? ›
Be prepared to always have your cup runneth over when having dinner with Greeks. Wine, Saltiel says, "always was and still is" served at every dinner.What kind of wine do Greek people like? ›
Greece is primarily known for its white grape varieties. Among them, Assyrtiko tops the list of the finest Greek wine varieties. Indigenous to the island of Santorini, Assyrtiko is now grown in other places in Greece too, mainly on the Cyclades Islands.What red wine do Greeks drink? ›
Greek Red is a catch-all category of traditional Greek red varieties. Examples of these wines include Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne, Xinomavro, St. George and Moschomavro.What wines to try in Greece? ›
- Naoussa Domaine Kelesidis.
- Deka White - Oenogenesis Estate. ...
- Tear of the Pine Kehris Winery. ...
- Brut Cuvee Speciale - Domaine Karanika. ...
- L' Esprit du Lac Kir Yianni. ...
- F by Foivos Foivos Papastratis. ...
- Terre De Zeus Xinomavro 2020 - Navitas Winery. ...
- Amuse Rose Muses Estate. ...
Nowadays a lot of the wine produced in Greece is of outstanding quality and a large number of Greek wine producers have gained international recognition for the quality of their wines, their excellent viticulture skills and their unique grape varieties that they cultivate (some nearly extinct and others that go back to ...
1. LIMNIONA FROM THESSALY. Greece's answer to Pinot Noir. Limniona (“lim-nee-ona”) is Greece's answer to Pinot Noir, producing wines with fragrant aromas of red-berries and rose petals, over delicate, rounded, silky texture.How much is a bottle of wine in Greece? ›
Most wines are dry and you can find drinkable1. 5 l blended bottles for around 5 euros. There are also many good wines bottled by the producer for around 7 to 10 euros .What is the leading red grape of Greece? ›
The flagship of Greek red wine varieties is Agiorgitiko, the most widely planted red grape in Greece.
Retsina and Assyrtiko, for example, are very well-known wines for Greek food pairing. Malagousia and Spilitsa Argolida are other popular wines that taste great and pair well with traditional Greek dishes. All these wines are great options to sip on wine while enjoying your meal.What wine goes with Greek food? ›
- Meze (ie dips and pita bread) – a light red like a Pinot Noir or Sangiovese.
- Salads - Sangiovese.
- Fish, seafood and poultry-based dishes - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Rosé
- Lamb/beef - Syrah/Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Red-sauce based dishes - Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Santorini is also renowned for its excellent Vinsanto wines—made from late-harvest, sun-dried white grapes and aged for at least two years in oak. These can include rich flavors of rum, sultanas, plums and menthol.How many Greek wines are there? ›
In Greece only 29 wine regions are designated PDO or Protected Designation of Origin. Wine with this designation has to be one of the 300 Greek varietals, indigenous, and historically grown and produced within the boundaries of the region.