The A-to-Zs of Greece and its Wine

Small motorboat at clear water bay of Loutro town on Crete island, Greece

As you can read in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s article about Greek wine, wine and Greek culture are as intertwined as the twin serpents found on the Greek god Hermes’ staff, the caduceus. From the Aegean Islands to Thessaly, Greeks have been enjoying the purple fruits of their labor for over 6 millennia.

It was so highly regarded that ancient Greeks worshiped Dionysus, the god of wine. In fact, Greek philosopher Plato once noted, “Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.” Of course, more than just a pairing for fish or lamb dishes or a way to complement tzatziki, wine was also considered a cure for one’s ills. This included helping balance humors, thought to be the cause of all ailments.

The diversity of Greece’s micro climates — from high altitude vineyards to remote volcanic islands and a diverse range of soils — helps support a number of different types of grapes for a variety of different styles of wine. Production in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece dates back to the time of the legendary poet, Homer. Of course, Ulysses, the main character of his epic, The Odyssey, used wine to make the one-eyed Cyclops drunk so that he could escape from him.

Some 3,000 years later, wine making traditions in Greece continue and appeal to people far beyond the country’s borders. Many of the more than 300 indigenous grape varieties, that were once only known domestically, now have wine fans everywhere acknowledging its “Greek wine to them”, as well.

Whether it is a dry white wine from Assyrtiko or the great god Zeus, Susan Kostrzewa reveals the rich and passionate relationship between Greece and its wines, food and culture in her piece: The A-to-Zs of Greece and its Wine.