1. Greece specializes on small-scale production of high quality wines. Around 5 million liters of wine are produced per year, ranking Greece as one of the most important word-wide in relation to its population and viniculture zones.
2. 75 local grape varieties are cultivated in Greece today. The vast majority of them are not found outside the country (they are endemic).
3. The oldest archaeological evidence of crushed grapes in the world were found in Greece.
4. The first Greek region evidenced to commercially promote and export its wine around the Mediterranean was Crete, around 2700 B.C.
5. The cult of Dionysus, god of wine and mysticism came from Asia to Greece, around 1300 B.C. In honor of Dionysus the Dionysia festival included athletic games, theatre and poetry contests. Today, regional wine-tasting festivals and expos are organized throughout the year.Wine-related agritourism is also an excellent way of discovering how tradition is combined with modern technology at the country’s wineries. (for more info see here)
6. One of the first ventures to combine tourism and wine was Porto Carras Grand Resort in Sithonia, Halkidiki. The estate produces a number of supreme quality wines and is home to the largest organic wine terrain in Greece.
7. The wine-harvest season in September is called Trygos and is always accompanied by (smaller or larger) feasts on location, all over Greece. The folk name for September is Trygitis(vine-harvester). Trygos folklore songs and dances are some of the merriest ones in the country. In Athens there is a 1900’s – 1940’s group of taverna songs praising wine, particularly the local pine resin-flavored one called Retsina.
8. The oldest wine with an “appellation of origin” was Greek, from the area of Messinia, and it was called Denthys. Around 30% of wine-producing zones in Greece are nowadays dedicated to the cultivation of appellation of origin varieties. Most of them are found (by order of hectares) in the regions of the Peloponnese, North Aegean and South Aegean.
9. Contemporary research and development on viniculture started in the 1970’s and is growing fast ever since, including a wide range of organic wines. Every year Greek wines and labels of small or medium-sized enterprises win many distinctions for quality and innovation in significant international events.
10. The islands of Samos, Limnos, Santorini and the city of Patras produce excellent muscatel wines, each one with particular color traits and aroma. Nama is the strong liqueur wine used for the Holy Communion (in churches) and is also available to buy in shops around the country.
11. William Shakespeare praised Malvaza, a wine still found today in the city of Monemvasia (Malvazia) in the Peloponnese.
12. As it is the norm in Southern Europe, in Greece too wine-drinking is moderate, connected to good food and togetherness. A glass of red wine per day is scientifically proven to help prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
There are of course more than these reasons to love Greek wine and the tradition that is indiscriminately connected with it. To discover more reasons for yourself we invite you (what else?)…to taste them!
Article by Sophia Nikolaou