Agiorgitiko is a mouthful.
A complicated name for a complex wine. Complicated in the ways that it’s difficult to pronounce, that its spelling changes label to label, and its name has changed over the several millennia that this grape has existed.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Agiorgitiko originates from Nemea where even then they couldn’t decide on a name. It used to be called “the blood of Hercules” and “the blood of the lion.” As you can assume, in Greek mythology, Nemea is where Hercules killed the Nemean lion. Agiorgitiko, however, does not translate to Hercules or lion, it translates to Saint George. What? Bear with me. There’s as many theories about the name change as there are names. This is my favorite theory. There’s a village and a church of Saint George in Nemea. But a church and a village do not a name make. But as you’ll remember from Sunday school, Saint George killed a dragon. Moving away from paganism to Christianity, the dragon slayer was an obvious replacement for the lion slayer.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Agiorgitiko is worth learning to pronounce correctly (AYE-yor-YEE-tee-ko). It is grown all over the mainland from the south of the Peloponnese up to Mount Olympus. There are more hectares of Agiorgitiko planted than any other red grape in Greece. It’s that important. This is a variety that has something for everyone, from soft quaffable wines of cherry and blueberry to gutsy robust reds of blackberry jam and black tea. Hospitable acids and tannins matched with loyal fruit characters make this a great wine to carry you through the four seasons.
Agiorgitiko is a sommelier’s dream. There’s a style to match with every dish. Try it with softer cuts of meat like filet mignon or veal, or herbaceous stewed vegetables.
By Certified Sommelier Anna Maria Kambouraki. You can reach Anna Maria at @chaniawinetours and www.chaniawinetours.com