Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and among the first wine-producing territories in Europe. The earliest evidence of Greek wine has been dated to 6,500 years agowhere wine was produced on a household or communal basis. In ancient times, as trade in wine became extensive, it was transported from end to end of the Mediterranean; Greek wine had especially high prestige in Italy under the Roman Empire. In the medieval period, wines exported from Crete, Monemvasia and other Greek ports fetched high prices in northern Europe.
The origins of wine-making in Greece go back 6,500 yearsand evidence suggesting wine production confirm that Greece is home to the second oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world and the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes. As Greek civilization spread through the Mediterranean, wine culture followed. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy, Sicily, southern France, and Spain.
In 1937, a Wine Institute was established by the Ministry of Agriculture. During the 1960s, retsina suddenly became the national beverage. With rapidly growing tourism, retsina became associated worldwide with Greece and Greek wine. Greece’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was planted in 1963. In 1971 and 1972, legislation established appellation laws.[ citation needed ]
A system of appellations was implemented to assure consumers the origins of their wine purchases. The appellation system categorizes wines as:
The main wine growing regions – so called appellations of Greece – are:
Malvasia is a group of wine grape varieties grown historically in the Mediterranean region, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and the island of Madeira, but now grown in many of the winemaking regions of the world. In the past, the names Malvasia, Malvazia, and Malmsey have been used interchangeably for Malvasia-based wines; however, in modern oenology, "Malmsey" is now used almost exclusively for a sweet variety of Madeira wine made from the Malvasia grape. Grape varieties in this family include Malvasia bianca, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia negra, Malvasia nera, Malvasia nera di Brindisi, Malvasia di Candia aromatica, Malvasia odorosissima, and a number of other varieties.
Malbec is a purple grape variety used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. In France, plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in South West France, though the grape is grown worldwide. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal.
Retsina is a Greek white resinated wine, which has been made for at least 2,000 years. Its unique flavor is said to have originated from the practice of sealing wine vessels, particularly amphorae, with Aleppo Pine resin in ancient times. Before the invention of impermeable glass bottles, oxygen caused many wines to spoil within the year. Pine resin helped keep air out, while infusing the wine with resin aroma. The Romans began to use barrels in the 3rd century CE, removing any oenological necessity for resin, but the flavor itself was so popular that the style is still widespread today.
Pinot blanc is a white wine grape. It is a point genetic mutation of Pinot noir. Pinot noir is genetically unstable and will occasionally experience a point mutation in which a vine bears all black fruit except for one cane which produces white fruit.
Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy. It produces good yields and is known for deep color, full body, low tannins and high levels of acidity.
A rosé is a type of wine that incorporates some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. It may be the oldest known type of wine, as it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method. The pink color can range from a pale "onion-skin" orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grape varieties used and winemaking techniques. Usually, the wine is labelled rosé in French, Portuguese, and English-speaking countries, rosado in Spanish, or rosato in Italian.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a French wine, an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) located around the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône wine region in southeastern France. It is one of the most renowned appellations of the southern part in the Rhône Valley, and its vineyards are located around Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in neighboring villages, Bédarrides, Courthézon and Sorgues, between Avignon and Orange. They cover slightly more than 3,200 hectares or 7,900 acres (32 km2) and produce over 110,000 hectolitres of wine a year, more wine made in this one area of the southern Rhône than in all of the northern Rhône.
Agiorgitiko (Greek: Αγιωργίτικο; also known as Aghiorghitiko, Fruit-of-Dyonisos is a red Greek wine grape variety that, as of 2012, was the most widely planted red grape variety in Greece, ahead of Xynomavro. The grape has traditionally been grown in the Nemea region of the Peloponnese but can be found throughout the country including Attikí and Makedonía.
Assyrtiko or Asyrtiko is a white Greek wine grape indigenous to the island of Santorini. Assyrtiko is widely planted in the arid volcanic-ash-rich soil of Santorini and other Aegean islands, such as Paros. It is also found on other scattered regions of Greece such as Chalkidiki.
Xinomavro is the principal red wine grape of the uplands of Naousa in the regional unit of Imathia, and around Amyntaio, in Macedonia, Greece. This grape is primarily cultivated in Naousa, Goumenissa, Amyntaio, Rapsani, Trikomo, Siatista, Velventos, and, on a lesser scale, on Mount Athos, at Ossa, Ioannina, Magnesia, Kastoria and Trikala. In 2010, the total global cultivated area was 1,971 hectares and was entirely in Greece, but by 2013 this had grown to 2,239 hectares worldwide, with some initial plantings in Gansu, China.
Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. The fertile valleys and protective slopes of the Transcaucasia were home to grapevine cultivation and neolithic wine production for at least 8000 years. Due to the many millennia of wine in Georgian history and its prominent economic role, the traditions of wine are considered entwined with and inseparable from the national identity.
Straw wine, or raisin wine, is a wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice. The result is similar to that of the ice wine process, but is a much older process and suitable for warm climates. The technique dates back to pre-Classical times with wines becoming fashionable in Roman times and in late Medieval/Renaissance Europe when wines such as Malmsey and Candia were highly sought after. Traditionally, most production of these wines has been in Greece, the islands off Sicily, Cyprus, Northern Italy and the French Alps. However producers in other areas are now using with the method too.
Savatiano is a white Greek wine grape used primarily in the wine Retsina. It is one of Greece's most widely planted grape varieties and is known for its resistance to drought condition. It is mostly planted throughout central Greece, particularly in Attica near Athens. In Retsina, the naturally low acidity of the grape is sometimes compensated for by the addition of Assyrtiko and Rhoditis in the blend.
Rhoditis is a pink-skinned Greek wine grape traditionally grown in the Peloponnese region of Greece. The grape was highly valued in the Greek wine industry prior to the phylloxera outbreak due to its ability to ripen late and maintain its acidity in hot climates like those of Peloponnese and Thessaly. However its susceptibility to powdery mildew and phylloxera dramatically reduced it plantings throughout the 20th century. Today it is most commonly blended with Savatiano in making the Greek wine Retsina.
Limnio (LIM-nee-oh) is a red Greek wine grape variety that is indigenous to the Greek island of Lemnos. The grape has had a long history of wine production that may extend back to Ancient Greece with wine historians widely believing it was the grape variety, Lemnia, that was described by Aristotle as producing the famous red Lemnian wine. According to wine expert Oz Clarke, Limnio is "One of Greece's most important red vines."
Santorini is a Greek wine region located on the archipelago of Santorini in the southern Cyclades islands of Greece. Wine has been produced there since ancient times, but it was during the Middle Ages that the wine of Santorini became famous worldwide under the influence of the Republic of Venice. The Italian influence is still present in modern Santorini winemaking: the most famous Tuscan sweet wine is called Vin Santo just like Santorini's Vinsanto or Visanto. It is made in a passito style from grapes dried in the sun after harvest. Santorini also produces blended and rosé wine made from white grapes such as Athiri, Aidini and Assyrtiko, and red grapes such as Mandelaria.
Liatiko is an old red Greek wine grape variety that is grown on the island of Crete. While the name suggests a relationship with the Italian variety Aleatico, ampelographers currently discount a connection. Liatiko grapes have a pale red color, are moderate in acidity and rich in aromas and sugars. Liatiko matures in July, a fact that according to one explanation derives its name from Ιουλιάτικο, literally "of July". Historically, the grape has been used in blends with Mandilaria and Kotsifali to produce Malvasia, a very alcoholic, sweet red wine. Malvasia was widely exported by Venetian traders during the Middle Ages and was highly regarded throughout western Europe.
Fronton AOC is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for wine in South West France in the département of Haute-Garonne and Tarn-et-Garonne, located about 35 km north of Toulouse.
Negoska is a red Greek wine grape variety (Negushka) that is grown primarily in "Central Macedonia". Around the town of Goumenissa the grape is blended with Xynomavro to produce very fruity wines with high alcohol levels.
Vugava is a white grape variety mostly cultivated on the Croatian island of Vis in central Dalmatia.