The world of Greek wine is exploding! Sommeliers have been the biggest advocates…because these wines go so extremely well with food. They go well in your kitchen, too! And…the prices are great. Here are the top five categories you need to seek out (Internet or wine shop):
1) Assyrtiko from Santorini: Assyrtiko is THE Greek grape variety that’s conquering the world—especially when the grape is grown and vinified on spectacular Santorini. When young, these whites have the acidity of a great Chablis, with even more body and force. When old, they morph into minerally things reminiscent of great aged white Rioja. Very food-friendly; I love ’em with various versions of roast lamb.
2) Moschofilero: This is a white-wine variety usually grown in the Peloponnese. It is light, graceful, flowery, a perfect picnic wine. Drink the youngest vintage you can. Think of it as a Greek-style dry Riesling or Muscat, perhaps the two of them combined.
3) Greek Rosés: I know not why…but the best rosés in the world right now are coming from Greece! Soon the rich and fresh 2011s will be available…look for them. This is a killer way to start off a Greek meal, along with a table groaning with Greek appetizers. Naoussa and Nemea are the regions to look for.
4) Xinomavro: My favorite red-wine grape from Greece. The most famous examples come from the northern region of Naoussa. Xinomavro (ksi-NO-mahv-ro) is in the Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo kind of stylistic area: light-ish, but dynamically complex. When it ages (15 years is good!) it picks up a crazy kind of tomato jam character. A GREAT wine for food: young is fine with fish, old is ideal for grilled meats.
5) Agiorgitiko: If your idea of a great red is more in Cabernet world than Pinot world—you should seek out Agiorgitiko (ah-your-YEE-tee-ko), particularly from the growing region of Nemea. More heft than Xinomavro, more Bordeaux-like. Good ones are gushingly fruity in youth, becoming more complex after 10 years or more of age. Young or old, Agiorgitiko is a great lamb, beef and pork wine.
Photo by David Rosengarten