Greece

Definition

Wine

  • the world’s 14th largest wine-producing country and generally considered to be the birthplace of wine. It is uncertain how winemaking arrived in Greece. It may have been brought to Crete by Phoenician traders, or it may have arrived from the north, by land, from Asia Minor. There is evidence of winemaking on Crete during the Minoan civilisation in the middle of the third millennium BC. Evidence also suggests that winemaking was common in Greece and around the Aegean a few centuries later. It is known that sweet wines were popular and the Greeks were not afraid to mix wine with water, honey, spices and even sea water. Greek wines often bore the flavour of the pine resin with which they coated the amphorae and jars used to store wine. retsina – pine-resin-flavoured wine – enjoys immense popularity in modern Greece. Ancient Greece may fairly be said to have invented wine as a social and cultural phenomenon, to have technically mastered the art of winemaking and, trading wine wherever Greek ships sailed, to have been responsible for the spread of viticulture throughout the western world. However the Ottoman Empire inhibited the industry until the late 20th century. A wide array of different growing conditions, offering an extraordinary palette of styles and varieties, encouraged producers and winemakers to move away from cheap bulk wines and invest in modern winemaking methods and technology. New stainless steel wineries, new oak barrels and increased awareness of terroir and microclimates have all contributed to a substantial improvement in Greek wine. Consequently, numerous producers of quality wines have emerged, such as Gaia, Gerovassiliou, Boutari, Tsantali and, Antonopoulos. Many of the top Greek winemakers have learnt their trade in more traditional winemaking regions such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and parts of Australia. Legally, three categories of Greek wine may be made. Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality (OPAP) and Controlled Appellation of Origin (OPE) are used to describe wines, sweet and dry, from defined areas, made in prescribed ways, using particular grape varieties. Some 28 wines enjoy appellation status. Epitrapezios Oenos (vins de table) include the Topikos Oenos (vins de pays) and the Onomasia kata Paradosi (Traditional Appellation). Topikos Oenos wines bear the name of the region, county or town, from which they come. The vast majority of Greek wines are made from unique indigenous varieties such as Xinomavro, Aghiorghitiko, and Limnio.
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