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Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. The earliest evidence of Greek wine has been dated to 6,500 years ago[1][2] where wine was produced on a household or communal basis. In ancient times, as trade in wine became extensive, it was transported from end to end of the Mediterranean; Greek wine had especially high prestige in Italy under the Roman Empire. In the medieval period, wines exported from Crete, Monemvasia and other Greek ports fetched high prices in northern Europe.

Contents

History

The origins of wine-making in Greece go back 6,500 years[3][4] and evidence suggesting wine production confirm that Greece is home to the second oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world[2][3][5] and the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes.[3] The spread of Greek civilization and their worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, spread Dionysian cults throughout the Mediterranean areas during the period of 1600 BC to the year 0.[6] Hippocrates used wine for medicinal purposes and readily prescribed it.[6] Greek wines and their varieties were well known and traded throughout the Mediterranean[6]. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera[6] and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy,[7] Sicily,[8] southern France,[9] and Spain.[6] The Vitis vinifera grape which thrives in temperate climates near coastal areas with mild winters and dry summers adapted well and flourished in the Northern Mediterranean areas.[6] The most reputable wines of ancient Greece were Chian, Coan, Corcyraean, Cretan, Euboean, Lesbian, Leucadian, Mendaean, Peparethan wine, Rhodian and Thasian. Two other names may or may not be regional: Bibline wine and Pramnian wine are named in the earliest Greek poetry, but without any reliable geographical details.

In 1937, a Wine Institute was established by the Ministry of Agriculture. During the 1960s, retsina suddenly became the national beverage. With rapidly growing tourism, retsina became associated worldwide with Greece and Greek wine. Greece’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was planted in 1963. In 1971 and 1972, legislation established appellation laws.

Wine regions

A system of appellations was implemented to assure consumers the origins of their wine purchases. The appellation system categorizes wines as:

  • Appellations of Origin of Superior Quality
  • Controlled Appellations of Origin

The main wine growing regions of contemporary Greece are:

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Aegean Islands

  • Limnos
  • Paros
  • Rhodes
  • Samos
  • Santorini

Crete

  • Archanes
  • Dafnes
  • Peza
  • Sitia

Central Greece

  • Anchialos
  • Attica
  • Rapsani
  • Thessaly

Epirus

  • Zitsa

Ionian Islands

  • Kefalonia

Macedonia

  • Amyntaion
  • Epanomi [10]
  • Goumenissa
  • Naoussa

Peloponnesus

  • Mantineia
  • Nemea
  • Patras

Grape varieties

Red Wine

  • Agiorghitiko, meaning St. George's, is a variety that grows mainly in the Peloponnese area, producing a soft, sometimes fruity red in many styles.
  • Xinomavro, meaning "acid black" is the predominant grape variety in the Macedonia area in the North of Greece. This variety has great aging potential with rich tannic character. It is often compared to Nebbiolo.
  • Mandilaria, also known as amorgiano, is mainly cultivated on the islands of Rhodes and Crete. Wine from this grape is often very tannic and frequently blended with other grapes to soften the mouthfeel.
  • Mavrodaphne, or "black laurel", is a variety that grows in the Peloponnese and the Ionian Islands. It is blended with the Korinthiaki grape to produce a fortified dessert wine.
  • Kotsifali is a variety mainly grown on Crete. It is blended with Mandilaria or Syrah to enhance its color.

White Wine

  • Assyrtiko is a multi-purpose variety which maintains its acidity as it ripens. It is similar in character to Riesling, and is mostly island-based.
  • Athiri is a lower acid variety and one of the most ancient. Originally from Santorini, it is now planted in Macedonia, Attica, and Rhodes.
  • Debina is a white Greek wine grape grape primarily in the Zitsa region of Epirus. The grape's high acidity lends itself to sparkling wine production.
  • Lagorthi is a variety mainly cultivated on high slopes (850 meters) in the Peloponnese. The grape produces a very malic and fruity wine.
  • Malagousia is a grape growing mainly in Macedonia, with a special aroma leading to elegant full bodied wines, with medium-plus acidity and exciting perfumed aromas.
  • Moschofilero is a variety from the AOC region of Mantinia, in the Peloponnese. Its wines offer a crisp and floral character.
  • Robola is most grown in the mountainous vineyards of the Ionian Island of Cephalonia. It has a smokey mineral character.
  • Roditis is a grape that is very popular in Attica, Macedonia, Thessaly, and the Peloponnese. This variety produces elegant, light white wines with citrus flavors.
  • Savatiano is the predominant white grape in the region of Attica, where it displays excellent heat resistance and shows a distinct floral and fruity aroma.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ Ancient Mashed Grapes Found in Greece Discovery News.
  2. ^ a b Mashed grapes find re-write history of wine Zeenews
  3. ^ a b c 6,500 year old Mashed Grapes Found in Greece. Discovery News.
  4. ^ 6,500 year old Mashed grapes found World’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes
  5. ^ 6500 year old Mashed grapes found
  6. ^ a b c d e f Introduction to Wine Laboratory Practices and Procedures, Jean L. Jacobson, Springer, p. 84.
  7. ^ The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, Brian Murray Fagan, 1996 Oxford Univ Pr, p. 757.
  8. ^ Wine: A Scientific Exploration, Merton Sandler, Roger Pinder, CRC Press, p. 66.
  9. ^ Medieval France: an encyclopedia, William Westcott Kibler, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, p. 964.
  10. ^ Winemaking region Macedonia. All about Greek wine.
  11. ^ Shara Hall, Lisa, Guide to Greek Wine, Epikouria Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006, "

Further reading

  • Dalby, Andrew (2003), Food in the ancient world from A to Z, London, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0415232597 
  • Dalby, Andrew (1996), Siren Feasts, London, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0415116201  (Paperback ISBN 0-415-15657-2)
  • Lambert-Gócs, Miles (1990), The Wines of Greece, London: Faber, ISBN 0571153887 

External links


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