Here are some basic questions people have asked me over the years about Greek wine, and their answers, composed to the best of my ability!
What Are The Best-Known Wine Regions Of Greece?
The best-known regions are the ones with appellation status.
Most recognized are:
- Mantineia (Peloponnese)
- Naoussa in Macedonia
- Nemea in the Peloponnese
For sweet wines:
What Are The Best Or Most Noble Grape Varieties?
White Varieties: Assyrtico (mainly Santorini, but elsewhere, too); Moschofilero (mainly Mantineia)
Red varieties: Xynomavro (mainly in Naoussa and other parts of Macedonia); Agiorgitiko (mainly in Nemea)
Here’s A Brief Description Of The Main Greek Grape Varietals
White varieties: Moschofilero
Moschofilero-Mantinia are the most aromatic wines in Greece, with intense floral notes. This aromatic variety has existed for centuries in Greece and ideally belongs to the high plateau of Mantinia in the north-central Peloponnese. Aromatic Moschofilero wines make for perfect aperitifs, but also pair well with heady cuisines, such as Middle Eastern and Asian. They are great with sushi and seafood in general.
White Varieties: Assyrtico
Assyrtiko-Santorini wines are distinctive. These wines are born from the indigenous Assyrtiko grape, cultivated in some of the world’s oldest vineyards, dating back 3.500 years, on the volcanic island of Santorini. Assyrtiko-Santorini are world-class dry whites that can be drunk young or aged. They pair beautifully with fish, seafood and, surprisingly, even meat dishes. Characteristics of Santorini Assyrtico: Minerality and density. They both reflect the unique volcanic and dry soil of Santorini, which is an internationally acclaimed “pedigree”.
Red Varieties: Agiorgitiko
Nemea-Agiorgitiko are deep ruby red and quite dark. Gerations ago they were nicknamed the “blood of Hercules,” and tied to local myths. Nemea Agiorgitiko is vinified into a large range of styles from rich, comples wines that age beautifully to light, easy-to-drink wines full of fresh fruit tastes that may even be served slightly chilled. The lighter Nemea Agiorgitikos make for excellent summer reds. They pair well with a wide spectrum of cuisines.
Red Varieties: Xinomavro
Xinomavro-Naoussa/Amynteo wines are among the finest red wines in Greece. They are aged for two years minimum. Xinomavro wines are characterized by deep red color, high acidity, strong tannins and complex aromas. The Xinomavro grape, which means “sour black” is indigenous to northwestern Greece. Naoussa and Amynteo are the appellation areas. The grape grows in a multitude of terroirs and elevations, resulting in a broad range of wines styles. Xinomavro wines go beautifully with intensely flavored, rich foods, and spicy meat dishes.
NOMENCLATURE ON THE LABEL
Every Greek wine label has certain basic information, such as:
- The name of the producer or estate
- The grape variety (Cabernet Sauvignon, Xinomavro, Merlot, Agiorgitiko, etc.)
- The place where the wine is made (Naoussa, Amyntaion, etc.)
- The alcohol content
- The vinification date
- The type of wine (dry red, sweet, etc.)
- And, finally, the category (OPAP, OPE, PGI, Table Wine, Traditional Wine, etc.).
Here’s An Explanation Of Those Categories.
What does OPAP/VLQPRD mean?
O.P.A.P. (Onomasía Proeléfseos Anotéras Piótitos) is equivalent to ‘Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality’ or the French ‘V.L.Q.P.R.D.’ There are currently 25 designations for this appellation, almost all of them for dry red and white wines:
- Páros I
- Paros II
- Pezá Red
- Pezá White
- Playies Melitona White
- Playies Melitona Red
- Ródos (Rhodes) White
- Ródos (Rhodes) Red
- Robóla of Kefalonia
- Sitía Red
- Sitía White