While Greece was not the first country to produce wine, ancient Greece was a place where wine was revered as a cultural symbol – it was the first culture to create what today we would call a “sommelier,” and the Greeks were the first to self-actualize wine as an economic force, complete with formal trade routes, legislation, and of course, celebrated consumption of their fine product.
The Greek wines we taste today have a complex history. For example, Greek wines had a huge revival period during the Middle Ages, particular those wine regions like Santorini, who were under rule of the Italians – and the Italian influence of that period still exists today. Speaking of geography, Greece is also very climatically complex; the combination of a peninsula and hundreds of islands results in many unique microclimates for wines.
Why don’t you join me in taking a sip of history? Greek wine would make a wonderful centerpiece for a themed dinner party or wine tasting night. Here are three wonderful Greek wines for you to consider sampling; I’ve paired them with a quick, easy party pleaser – mini Greek pizzas.
2011 Sigalas Assyrtiko
A friend of mine told me that Sigalas is by far the number one best white wine out of Greece, and if my taste of the 2011 Assyrtiko is any indication, she was right. Without much of a bouquet, you’ll perhaps be lured in unsuspecting of the burst of crisp, rich abundance of fruit flavor in your glass. There’s a touch of salt to the back of the throat, a gentle reminder of this region’s growing conditions – Santorini has very volcanic soil, and interestingly, grapes here are grown in circular basket-like structures to protect the vines from ocean winds. No wonder this wine is so powerful and unique.
If you can enjoy this white wine outside in the sun, the beaming golden yellow color will transport you right to Santorini, no airplane ride required.
2011 Megapanos Mantinia
The 2011 Megapanos Mantinia is another unique Greek wine, produced using moschofilero grapes – a red grape used to produce a fine white wine. For some reason I was expecting this wine to be very dry, but in fact it’s quite pleasing. The bouquet smells strongly of apples and pears, a scent which lingers into your first sip. There’s a slight acid taste at the back of the throat, a characteristic of wines from this region. This wine would be fantastic as a white wine spritz I think – I’ll save a bottle to try when the weather warms up more.
Mantinia is a place known in history as the backdrop for many battles and wars; today, the main battle is with these unique grapes, which do not tolerate hot weather and must be cared for attentively.
2008 Kir-Yianni Ramnista
My first thought when I opened this bottle was that the wine smelled very “plummy” – a word we use often here at Plum Deluxe HQ, and I do mean plummy both literally (the bouquet of plums and fruit) and figuratively (luxurious). The fruit flavors switch more to cherry, raspberry as you get into it, with lots of tannins. Some say that this wine is a true reflection of traditional Greek wines made to suit a modern palate – and I think the combo is working, as this wine should be at your next dinner party.
I would recommend decanting this wine before serving – especially if you’re going to give it a couple more years in your cellar. (If you don’t have a decanter, pick up one of our recommended decanters.)
And for your appetizer pairing…
This little appetizer is easy-peasy to make (and even easier to customize). It’s the perfect snack if you’re hosting a wine-themed movie night or a wine party and want something to pair with these great Greek wines. The feta cheese and the olives hit the perfect notes to complement similar flavors in the wines.
Mini Greek Pizzas
- 1 package pizza dough
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup (80g) halved seeded Kalamata olives
- 8 chunks of marinated roasted tomato
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Pinch of basil (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F
Roll out your pizza dough and cut out small rounds. We used a 4-inch (circumference) biscuit cutter.
Place rounds on a lightly greased cookie sheet tray. Divide tomato paste evenly over rounds; top with cheese, tomato, and the olives.
Bake uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until pizzas are browned on the edge.
Serve piping hot. For added taste, finish with sliced basil (optional).
Disclosure: Plum Deluxe was provided some of these wines for the purpose of sampling, but all opinions expressed are of the author.