Erik Neilson on August 22, 2016 0 Comments There are many regions throughout the world that are synonymous with wine — Burgundy, Champagne and Tuscany come to mind. Some areas, such as Sicily, have become “buzz regions” over the past 20 or 30 years due to the fact that their wines have improved dramatically and are now some of the finest available. Then, there are parts of the world that simply haven’t gotten their time in the spotlight quite yet, and one of the best examples is Greece. Greek wine is something that many people throughout the world are unfamiliar with, and for good reason — it simply hasn’t reached anywhere near the level of popularity associated with the regions mentioned above. The important thing to note here is that Greek wine’s lack of reach is not an indicator of its quality. Greek Wine Available on Amazon? Yep. Indeed, Greece is currently producing a number of excellent wines, with white varietals leading the way. A Recent History of Greek Wine In order to understand the current state of Greek wine, one has only to travel back a decade or so. At that time, Greek wine was receiving very little attention outside of Greece itself, save for a core following of Greek Americans who made up the vast majority of those drinking these wines in the United States. The restaurant industry in America and sommeliers in particular are to thank for what has become a growing interest in the wines of Greece, particularly those from Santorini. Many sommeliers prize Santorini-born wines for their rich minerality, thanks in large part to the area’s highly unique soil characteristics. The Assyrtiko grape in particular showcases the volcanic soil of the island, with racy minerality and a large dose of acidity. These elements of Assyrtiko and many other Greek white wines make pairing with food a breeze, as they complement anything from lemony olives to grilled fish perfectly. Uniqueness Above All Else There are plenty of reasons why Greek wines should be paid attention to, but also a fair amount of factors playing into why it’s currently going through a resurgence. As mentioned above, the food pairing capabilities associated with Greek wine are second to none, especially when it comes to seafood. Highly regarded restaurants such as Le Bernardin in New York City highlight Greek wine as being the best pairing option and have thus helped to increase its overall popularity. It’s not just pairing abilities, however — it’s the wine’s character. In a wine market that is saturated with more options than many people know how to deal with, uniqueness matters. There are many Greek wines that essentially defy typical categorization, setting them apart from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio that many people are familiar with. For those who are interested in trying something new and exciting, Greek wines fit the bill like few others. They’re excellent new territory to explore for anyone who tends to enjoy minerally grapes such as Frappato and Grillo, both of which also have roots in volcanic island soil. Varietals to Seek Out For those who are wholly unfamiliar with Greek wine, knowing where to start can be easier said than done. After all, the names alone of many Greek grapes can be confusing enough, as none of them are particularly common to others in the wine world. If you can take the time to internalize the names of even just a few commonly found Greek wines, you’ll be doing yourself a great service the next time you find yourself on the hunt for that perfect mineral-driven white. Here are just a handful of Greek grape varietals to look for, all of which are capable of producing excellent wine. Red Wine From Greece Agiorgitiko: The Agiorgitiko grape is perfect for those who enjoy a good Cabernet. Velvety on the tongue, full-bodied and bursting with ripe cherry flavors, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more approachable red for those who are unfamiliar with Greek wines. Xinomavro: Highly floral in nature, the Xinomavro grape is a sensory experience that cannot be likened to any other red. Its aromas alone are enough to knock even the most experienced wine drinkers off their feet, with spicy, fruity notes that get stuck in the nose and linger for a while. Firmly tannic, Xinomavro can be enjoyed either with or without the presence of food to great effect. Limnio: If you’re looking for perhaps the most unique Greek red available, look no further than Limnio. Also referred to as “Kalambaki”, the Limnio grape is indigenous to the Aegean island of Lemnos, where it has been used to make wine for over 2000 years. It tends to be very high in alcohol and is characterized by flavors of bay leaves and herbs. White Wine From Greece Assyrtiko: The most well-known and often utilized white grape in Greece is Assyrtiko. This grape produces wines that are bone-dry, high in minerality and citrus-driven, making Assyrtiko the perfect option when attempting to pair wine with Mediterranean food of any kind. Athiri: Similar in some ways to Assyrtiko, Athiri tends to be a bit more mellow and slightly sweeter in nature. Characteristic of stone fruit flavors, it’s ideal for drinking on a hot summer evening. Moscofilero: Moscofilero is a Peloponnesian white wine that has won over many a sommelier since first gaining slight popularity. It features floral scents and flavors of orange citrus — an excellent wine for fish tacos. Rosé From Greece Roditis: One of the few Grecian grapes utilized to produce rosé, Roditis is pink-skinned and capable of producing an incredibly light, elegant wine. Fragrant and floral, the grape can also be used to produce white wine, but rosé is where it really shines. So, don’t let the wide world of Greek wine pass you by just because it isn’t quite as popular as other regions throughout the world. It’s gaining prominence at an incredibly fast rate, and before long, many of the best Greek wines may be difficult to come by due to demand. The sooner you can start experiencing them for yourself, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to try the best of what Greece has to offer before it becomes highly sought-after.