Greek wines: more than 4000 years of history

Greek wines from Santorini

Greece , well known for the exceptional richness of its cultural and historical heritage, is also distinguished by its old wine-growing tradition. Greek wines, with a history dating back more than 4,000 years, have always been at the heart of the country's culture and economy, and continue to be so to this day.

Greek wine, an Odyssey from Antiquity to the present day

The roots of vine cultivation in Greece run deep and date back to Antiquity. In fact, this country has records of wine production dating back over 6,500 years , making it one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Discover below some key elements of Greek wine through the different eras.

The development of the Mycenaean civilization (between 1650 and 1100 BC) was decisive for the development of wine cultures in Greece. The archaeological remains bear witness to the presence of wine in the daily life of the Ancient Greeks, thanks to the discovery of terracotta pots which were used to preserve wine.

Not only was wine an essential component of their diet, but it also occupied an important religious place, through the offerings they made to Dionysus, the god of wine.

In addition to its place in ancient Greek culture and religious tradition, wine consumption was also an indicator of civilization . Indeed, the Greeks were distinguished from the barbarians by their way of consuming wine, often diluted in water, which distinguished them from neighboring peoples. In addition, Greece had a reputation for flavoring its wine with spices and aromatic herbs, which made it possible to create wines typical of each of its regions.

Over the centuries, Greek wines have experienced periods of prosperity, but also of decline. Despite all these difficulties, viticulture has survived by adapting, evolving from ancient Greece to the Roman era, then through the Byzantine period to the present day.

Today, Greek wines are experiencing a real renaissance, thanks to the development of numerous vineyards and the considerable improvement in the level of quality.

Journey through Greece's iconic wine regions

Vineyards In Greek Village In Spring At Sunset

The climatic conditions as well as the geological characteristics of the country are conducive to viticultural cultivation as well as wine production. Here are the main wine regions of Greece:

The Peloponnese region and its exceptional wines

The Peloponnese is an important wine-producing region, accounting for almost a quarter of Greece's total wine production.

The region also enjoys a great reputation for its production of table grapes as well as currants, two flagship products intended for export. The vineyard plantations of the Peloponnese are mainly located on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth and the Ionian Sea, thus offering a diversity of wine-growing landscapes.

Benefiting from a mild Mediterranean climate with a marked continental influence, the Peloponnese is distinguished by full-bodied red wines and very aromatic white wines .

Crete, the wine jewel of the south

Crete, the most important island in Greece, is home to real wine gems. The vineyards cover some 50,000 hectares, mainly distributed in the north of the region, where the mountains protect them from hot winds.

Although most production is devoted to table grapes and raisins, this island is the source of around 20% of Greek wines.

Thanks to the diverse soils and micro-climates that characterize Crete, there is a diverse range of wines, which reflects the rich wine heritage of the island. This immense Greek island is renowned for both its white wines and its red wines , which demonstrate the diverse character of its grape varieties and its terroirs.

Santorini, an exceptional land in the Aegean Sea

Located in the heart of the Aegean Sea, in the Cyclades region, Santorini is also one of Greece's iconic wine regions. Renowned wineries mainly supply white wine, sweet wine and red wine.

The most widely grown grape varieties in Santorini are Assyrtiko, Aidani and Vidiano, which are used either as a single grape variety or as a blend to produce wines rich in aromas .

Thanks to its unique terroir, its volcanic lands and its dry climate, Santorini wines are distinguished by their minerality and acidity.

The main grape varieties in Greece

In Greece, there is a wide variety of indigenous grape varieties , some of which date back to Antiquity. Here are the most notable varieties:

  • White grape varieties : Assyrtiko, Athiri, Debina, Malvasia, Muscat, Malagousia, Moschofiero, Roditis.

  • Red grape varieties : Agiorgitiko, Kotsifali, Liatiko, Limnio, Mavrodaphne, Xinomavro, Mandilari.

Each variety of Greek grape variety has particular characteristics. Assyrtiko, for example, has a reputation for resisting heat and drought well, making it an ideal variety for arid regions such as Santorini. As for Xinomavro, which is a red grape variety, we make acidic and tannic wines with aromas of red fruits and spices.

Greek wines in full glory on an international scale

The popularity of many Greek wines continues to grow on the international scene. Here are some of the best types of Greek wines:

  • Muscat of Samos: a very sweet white wine produced on the island of Samos, which is perfect to accompany aperitifs and desserts.

  • Retsina: a traditional resin-infused wine, produced for millennia from the Savatiano grape variety.

  • Naoussa red wine: a full-bodied and complex red wine made from the Xinomavro grape variety.

  • Agiorgitiko from Nemea: a red wine that is both rich and fruity on the palate, with delicious aromas of red fruits.

One of the most successful estates in recent years is Domaine Thymiopoulos . It is located in Naoussa and enjoys a great reputation for its red wine made from the indigenous Xinomavro grape variety. The wine produced by this estate is distinguished by its complexity, its structure as well as its potential in terms of aging.

Thymiopoulos Estate, Naoussa, Greece

Despite the rich heritage of Greek wine and its indisputable quality, it remains little present on export markets. However, thanks to the talent of passionate winemakers such as Apostolos Thymiopoulos, Greek wines are experiencing a true renaissance . Whether it is white wine from Santorini, the famous Xinomavro produced in Naoussa or even wine from Retsina, all Greek wines have an exciting story to share and a unique taste to discover. What's more, with the development of tourism in Greece, more and more wine lovers are able to discover and appreciate Greek wines.

With a rich history dating back more than 4,000 years, Greek wine is a true witness perfectly illustrating the riches and particularities of Greece's cultural heritage. Wine enthusiasts or simply curious people, don't hesitate to taste and discover the incredible wine region that this country offers.

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