Wine has been an integral part of Greek culture and society for centuries. The Greeks have been making wine since around 2000 BC, and in the ancient world, Greece was one of the foremost producers of wine.
And yet, despite the country’s rich wine heritage, modern Greek wines are frequently overlooked and underrated. Fortunately, Greek wine is starting to gain the recognition that it deserves. These days, Greece offers a variety of high quality wines, many of which can be found in the United States.
Here are the top 10 Greek wines that every wine lover should be sipping right now.
Native to the island of Santorini, the Assyrtiko varietal is unique in its ability to maintain its acidity as it ripens. Widely considered one of the top wines in Greece, this bone-dry white wine contains passionfruit, flint, and lemon flavors, as well as a subtle bitterness and saltiness on the finish.
Made in Nemea, a wine region in the Peloponnese, Agiorgitiko wines are full-bodied with flavors of sweet raspberry, blackcurrant, and nutmeg with subtle bitter herbs and smooth tannins. This lush velvety red wine is generous and fruity, similar to a Merlot, but with slightly more spice.
Grown in central Peloponnese, close to Tripoli, Moschofilero is a dry, crisp, and aromatic white wine with flavors of peach, potpourri, and sweet lemon. And as these wines age, they develop more nectarine and apricot flavors with toasted hazelnut or almond notes.
From Macedonia, Malagousia is a full-bodied white wine with balanced acidity and flavors of peach, lime, orange blossom, and lemon oil tied together with a soft, fruity finish. This melony, jasmine-scented white wine was on the brink of extinction before the winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou single-handedly resurrected it.
The main grape variety of Macedonia, Xinomavro translates as “sour black.” Grown in the limestone-rich clay soils of Naoussa, Xinomavro wines develop bold fruit characteristics. With its dark cherry and licorice notes as well as rich tannic character, this red wine is an excellent addition for the cellar.
Muscat of Samos
The Muscat of Samos comes in many styles, from dry to sweet. One of the most popular styles is Vin Doux, which is a mistelle — a blend of fresh Muscat juice and Muscat grappa — that offers sweet marmalade, lychee, and Turkish Delight flavors, with subtle hay notes on the finish. Another Muscat from Samos is Samos Anthemis, aged in oak for five years, resulting in an amber color and flavors of butterscotch, toffee, and light molasses.
A sun-dried sweet dessert wine from the island of Santorini, Vinsanto comes in three white grape varieties and contains aromas of raisin, dried apricot, raspberry, and maraschino cherries. Vinsanto is well-known for the alluring contrast between its sweet fruit flavors and noticeably bitter flavors caused by its tannins, which is quite unexpected to find in a white wine.
Also known as the Saturday grape, Savatiano is the main white wine from the Attica region. Under cold fermentation, Savatiano offers flavors of sweet honeydew, green apple, and lime with a tingling acidity. If aged in oak, it is characterized by a more creamy mid-palate with lemon curd, wax, cultured cream, and lemon bread notes.
A white wine infused with the sap of the Allepo pine tree, Retsina wines have the aromas of linseed oil and lime peel as well as the flavors of apples and roses, with a subtle piney and saline finish. Retsina wines that are made with Assyrtiko grapes are more angular in their style, while Retsina made with Savatiano grapes have a more generous taste with ripe apple and peach flavors and an oily texture.
On the southernmost island of Crete, which has one of the warmest wine climates on earth, the native grapes of the island, Kotsifali and Mandilaria, are blended together with Syrah to create a wine that contains sweet red and black fruit, cinnamon, allspice, and soy sauce flavors, with a soft tannin finish. A very smooth and fruity wine, the Crete Reds are one of the most popular red wines to emerge from Greece.