Eight Greek wine regions to sample

For thousands of years, wine has been an essential part of Greek culture. Historians estimate that Greece began creating wine around 4,500 BC, making it one of the first places in the world to produce the drink. Today, Greece has eight unique wine regions, each of which is well-respected by critics around the world.

Many people believe that to get the full Greek wine experience, you must travel to Greece and visit the vineyards where the wine originates. An easier place to start is your local wine shop. Look for wine from each of the eight major regions: The Aegean Islands, Central Greece, Crete, Epirus, the Ionian Islands, Macedonia, Peloponnese and Thessaly. This will give you a broad overview of the flavors and aromas you can expect to find in Greek wine.

Once you have acquainted yourself with the basics of Greek wine, you will find that there are countless varieties to explore. There are currently more than 300 varietals of wine being produced in Greece, making it one of the most diverse wine countries in the world. Once you enter the world of Greek wine, you could spend years exploring it. Greek wine is as satisfying as it is diverse, however, and it is worth every minute of exploration.

Learn more about some of the top Greek wine varieties.

Explore the Wine Route of Dionysus

Do you ever find you yourself daydreaming about a wine vacation? Perhaps you should look towards the birthplace of great wine, Greece, where vintners have had thousands of years to perfect their craft.

When embarking on a Greek wine tour, there is a nearly endless supply of wines to sample from all over the country. A great place to experience these wines is the Wine Route of Dionysus. This wine route is named after the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. Many boisterous festivals have been held in Dionysus’ honor, and historians credit these festivals as being a major force behind the development of Greek theater.

On the Wine Route of Dionysus, merrymakers travel through Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the delicious wine. During the tour, there are countless opportunities to enjoy Greek culture and history. This is the perfect vacation for someone who wishes to experience the joys of Greek wine country.

Next time you daydream about a wine vacation, imagine it in Greece. Picture yourself on the Wine Route of Dionysus, touring vineyards, sampling world-class wine, and talking to winemakers in their natural element. Then, when you are done daydreaming, book a plane ticket and come experience Greek wine in its native country. It will be the trip of a lifetime.

Wines of Greece has a website packed with information about Wine Route of Dionysus.

You’ll also find another website with great information at the tourism website of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

The sublime wonders of Diane Kochilas’ spanakopita lasagna

If you’ve never heard of Diane Kochilas, you just haven’t been watching enough television.

The queen of healthy Greek cuisine, Diane is a chef who has been on “The Today Show,” “Martha Stewart,” the Food Network, CNN and more – in addition to starring in Greece’s number one cooking show, “What’s Cooking Today, Mom?” – preaching the wonders of her authentic, seasonal, delicious Greek food.

She’s won awards for her cookbooks, she regularly consults on Ivy League school menus, and she and her husband host a yearly food retreat on the idyllic Greek island of Ikaria, where people basically never age – so when Diane says she has a favorite recipe, we sit up and listen.

Spanakopita and lasagna aren’t often said in the same breath, but this better-together recipe gave us one of those a-ha moments – we can’t believe we didn’t think of it first!

A traditional filling of spinach, onions, feta and other Greek cheeses gets layered with lasagna noodles, then smothered with creamy Béchamel sauce. A little nutmeg sprinkled to taste, and we’re goners for this cross-cultural twist on an old favorite.

Check out the full recipe at Diane’s website, and don’t forget to sign up for her email list for more authentically amazing Greek recipes like this one.

Pairing Delicious Greek Dessert Wines with Delectable Desserts

Enjoying a delicious dessert is a great way to spend the evening. Many desserts can also be paired deliciously with wine – especially Greek wines, which are known for their sweet choices.

The most noble of sweet wines is Samos. Pairing this honey-like wine with holiday pies is one of our best recommendations. If your dessert contains fruit, drinking a glass of Samos will enhance your dining experience.

You are a wine lover, so why not try a glass of Vinsanto? Santo stands for Santorini, which will recall strong images and amplify the emotion in your banqueting table. The intense flavors of nuts, dried fruit and caramel give this wine a truly unique blend. A salty cheese, i.e. a Roquefort, or a chocolate dessert pair splendidly with this wine choice. If you have never had either, try them for yourself.

Mavrodaphne of Patras is a sweet red wine with a thicker, flavorful, luscious taste. If you have a sweet tooth and love chocolate treats, choose a glass (or a bottle) of Mavrodaphne of Patras to pair with it.

No matter what delectable desserts you like to enjoy – we like many! – there is a Greek dessert wine to pair with it.

Making the most of your destination Greece visit with wine

If you love wine, Greece should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Greece has much to offer the fine wine lovers of the world.

Enjoy wine tourism through many of the great vineyards of the area, such as Manousakis, Gentilini, Moraitis and many others. You can never see too many vineyards on your trip, as long as you remember to pace yourself – a full day of vineyard visiting can make us all a little light-headed due to fine wines and friendly conversation.

While in Greece, try some of the most renowned wines of the area. Biblia Chora Ovilos and Gerovassiliou Malagousia both make wines in red and white, which provide strong, rich, forbidden flavors. They should be on your must-try list while exploring all that Greece has to offer. For a boost in the creative thinking process, Retsina provides a deep history on the way it was made and a unique taste that you must try while in Greece.

Plan your trip to Greece and visit all of the fine vineyards, sample the fine wines and laugh with friends near and far. Greece has a lot to offer its guests. Enjoy!

“It’s all Greek wine to me.”

Greece is so rich in native wine varieties that trying to figure out the way they’re classified can be tough, almost like learning Greek – but absolutely worth the effort. If you’ve never had a Xinomavro with your steak or poured Assyrtiko for guests, then learning the basics of the Greek system is your first step to a whole new world of delicious wines.

Here’s what you need to know, so get your notebooks out:

Greek wine, like all wine produced in the EU, is basically divided into Protected Designation of Origin wines, Protected Geographical Indication wines and Table wines.

The European Union, by means of wine legislation, has decided, among others, to include wines in the framework applicable to all other agricultural products, thus establishing the following wine categories:

(You may want to open a bottle of wine for this next part.)

Protected Designation of Origin Wines
“PDO products” bear a “Protected Designation of Origin” indication. This wine category comprises Greek wines bearing a Designation of Origin (VQPRD), in other words, all  AOQS and AOC wines. Quality Wines are strictly controlled and monitored for authenticity, so if you’re having your boss over for dinner or meeting the in-laws, this might be the bottle you go for.

Protected Geographical Indication Wines
You’ll often see “PGI” on these bottles, which are split into two categories. The first is Regional Wines (or Vins de Pays). These wines are more commonly found than Quality Wines, but that doesn’t always mean “lower” quality – for instance, this is where you will find the fine international wines. This category comprises all Regional Wines (or Vins de Pays) and any of the wines of “Traditional Designation” (or Appellation Traditionelle) which, simultaneously, have an established geographical indication i.e., Verdea and 15 retsinas (PGI wines of Greece.)

(There’s more. Time to pour a second glass.)

Varietal Wines
Varietal wines are a new wine category which includes those table wines complying with all the necessary prerequisites and controls as those are stipulated in the relevant EU legislation. In contrast to ordinary table wines, wines of this wine category are entitled to bear an indication of their vintage year and varietal composition but not of their geographical indication.

Table Wines
“Ordinary” table wines belong to a wine category which includes all wines which are neither PDO nor PGI but, in addition, are not in the wine varietals category either. The regulation stipulates that table wines in this wine category are still not entitled to display their vintage year or the varieties participating in their composition. Because in this case the regulations aren’t as strict as in the case of PDO and PGI wines, many winemakers take this as an opportunity to experiment. You ‘ll find some creative blends here, as well as the standard table and restaurant –quality offerings that are perfect for a big gathering or a casual get-together.

As with all wine classification systems, there’s much more to learn about Greek wine if you’re interested: Wine Categories

There’s no test but you may want to open your second bottle and say, “It’s all Greek wine to me.”

Can you say Agiorgitiko?

If you can’t, you should start practicing because this most prolific grape in Greece makes exceptionally food-friendly wines that match with a wide range of cuisines – perfect for holiday and hearty, winter meals!  Here’s a pronunciation hint:  wherever you see a “g”, say the sound of a “y”. Now try again:  A-yor-yi-ti-ko. Easy right? Well, if you’re still finding it difficult, you can call these wines Nemea, which is one of the largest and most famous wine regions of the Peloponnese peninsula.  The easiest part, if you’d like, is that you can call it St. George, which is the translation of Agiorgitiko into English. Most good sommeliers or wine store clerks will know the different terms. Continue reading Can you say Agiorgitiko?

How about a wine from the 3rd Century BC?

Imagine how you’d impress your friends if you could serve a wine from its origins on the island of Crete more than 2,000 years ago. Interesting? Yes, but for taste, we recommend something a bit more modern. As written by Homer, the ancient Greeks traded their wines throughout the world inside sealed amphorae. As each city-state used a different style of amphorae, the largest wine centers in ancient Greece can be determined today from these archaeological remnants. Continue reading How about a wine from the 3rd Century BC?

Greece is the home of wine culture

Wondering where the first wine goblet came from?  Or who came up with the idea of enjoying wine and food together?  It’s the same people who invented Democracy: the Greeks. Much about Greek culture and wine culture can be found in Central Greece. The region is one of the country’s richest in historic, archaeological sites including Delphi, the mythical center of the ancient world, the Monastery of Osios Loukás and the dramatic Metéora peaks. Continue reading Greece is the home of wine culture