Wine has always been a part of the everyday lives of the ancient Greek people. It is already a staple routine of Greek culture.
We know Greek culture has always fascinated most of us, especially when studying Greek mythology. Hence, it would be nice to learn more about Greek wine as a grown-up. Read through below for the Greek Wine guide we have prepared.
What is Greek Wine?
As the name implies, a Greek wine technically originated in Greece. Though the Greek wines and grape names might be unfamiliar to you, it should be fine because Greek Wines are some of the most delicious wines even though they tend to be less famous than the new kinds of wines today.
Greek wines use different kinds of internationally and locally harvested grapes that produce a wide variety of flavors and color spectrums.
A Brief Greek Wine History
Winemaking is nothing new to Greece because the Greek people started producing a lot even during 2500 BC to the point that the Greeks even had to have a God of Wine, whom they call Dionysus.
Greece has several wineries and vineyards, and greek wine has been produced since around 2000 BC. Moreover, an ancient wine press, considered and recorded to be the oldest wine press in the whole wide world, was found in the ruins of Vathypetro, a village in Crete.
Historians assume that this was used within the period of Minoan civilization.
- Dionysus – The ancient Greeks used to have Dionysus as their God of fertility. However, he eventually became the entirely devoted God of wine and pleasure. In order to praise and worship their God of wine, the Greek people make sure to prepare gigantic feasts with tons of food and wine.
- Hippocrates – Hippocrates is the Father of Medicine, and the Greeks found some prescriptions by Hippocrates, wherein they had to take one tablespoon of wine as their daily medication.
2 Classifications of Greek Wines
Winemaking is nothing new to Greece, and Greek Wines have 2 classifications: the VQPRD, which stands for French for Quality Wines Produced in a Determined Region, and the Table Wines.
You may wonder why France is associated with Greek wines; it is simply because the European Union is the basis for labeling Greek wines, whereas Greece locals have to follow specific rules.
Characteristics of Greek Wine
The flavors of Greek wines vary depending on what kind of grapes were used in producing the wine. It usually depends on the region in which the wine was produced.
Wines handcrafted in the mountainous regions are usually rustic, while those from the Southern islands’ countryside usually have saline-driven characteristics.
The colors of Greek wine also vary in almost all of the color spectrum, which ranges in red, white, orange, and pink rose.
16 Greek Wine Regions
There are 16 wine regions that greatly produce Greek Wines in Greece with some specialty.
- Central Greece
- Crete: The largest island in Greece is Crete, thus, considered to be the most outstanding and most prominent producer of Greek Wine in Greece.
- Epirus: The grapes in Epirus are mostly Debina for white wines and Bekari and Vlahiko for red wines. Moreover, the vineyards in Epirus are highly elevated and have clay and limestone soils.
- Ionian Islands: The native grapes found in the Ionian Islands are the Tsaousi, Mavrodaphne, Robola, and Vostilidi.
- Macedonia: The main grape that is found in Macedonia is the Xinomavro. Moreover, its vineyards are at a lower altitude than the other vineyards located in most areas of Greece.
- Naoussa: Naoussa is located in the Northern part of Greece which is in Macedonia. It is where the Xinomavro grape is highly harvested.
- Nemea: It is known to be the most prominent wine-producing peninsula in Greece.
- Northern Greece
- Peloponnese: Peloponnese is a peninsula located in the Southern part of the Greek mainland. This region produces the most inexpensive and accessible Greek wines.
- Rapsani: Like Naoussa, Rapsani is also one of the great producers of Xinomavro wine but with a twist where it is blended with some dark-colored and full-bodied types of Stavroto and Krasato.
- Santorini: Santorini is not just considered to be the best tourist destination in Greece and Europe. It is also one of the best regions that produce the finest and premium quality Greek wines.
- Samos: Samos is one of the regions in Greece, located in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea, where it also produces premium quality Greek wines made out of aromatic muscat grapes.
20 Famous Greek Wines
Though we have mentioned that Greek Wines tend to be underrated these days, we have provided the 20 famous Greek Wines that you can try at home or serve with your friends and family. However, you have to keep in mind that these are just a few of the many Greek wines you may encounter.
Moreover, they may be considered famous, yet the terms can be unfamiliar to you, but that does not equate to or mean that the taste is not of high quality.
The names of these Greek Wines may not be common or catchy, but they sure are delicious and will let you and your tastebuds enjoy a sip of wine.
- It is considered to be one of the oldest Greek wine varieties.
- Primarily grown in the region of Nemea but is also found and grown in the part of Macedonia and Attika.
- It produces a vast range of red wine.
- Best paired with dishes that have tomato sauce, roasted meats, and local dishes in India and the Middle East
- Also known by other names such as Nemeatiko, Black of Nemea, and Hercules Blood
- Also called and spelled as Aidani.
- It is one of the well-known and loved Greek white wine varieties.
- Primarily cultured in almost all of the islands in the Aegean Sea. However, it is often produced in Santorini, Paros, and Naxos.
- It has an excellent flower blossom aroma.
- A Greek grape variety that has been cultivated internationally.
- It is usually grown on the island of Santorini.
- It is a grape that produces a popular wide selection of white Greek wines.
- It has a fruity and mineral flavor, such as flint and passionfruit.
- It is best paired with seafood and some tomato-based salad.
- It originated on the island named Cyclades.
- It has a slight hint of salt, and a bitter aftertaste once sipped.
- One of the ancient grapes originated on the island of Santorini.
- It is primarily cultured on the island of Rhodes.
- It is often mixed with Assyrtiko and Aidani.
- It is a well-loved Greek white wine with an aroma of stone fruits.
- It was used to produce the first ever sparkling wine by CAIR in 1928 in Greece.
- One of the rarest grapes in Greece but is distinctive in taste.
- The name Daphni means laurel.
- It has a great aroma with a scent of ginger, dried herbs, and of course, laurel.
- It usually ages with grace.
- The term Kidonitsa means Qyunce.
- It has a round palate and is exclusively grown in Laconia.
- It is often found on the island of Crete.
- It is considered to be the classic Mediterranean red wine.
- Usually mixed with Mandilaria to have a high ABV (or Alcohol By Volume)
- Typically pale in hue but can turn brown very easily.
- It is considered to be one of the ancient grape varieties in the entire world.
- It originated on the island of Lemnos.
- It is part of the red wine variety with an aroma of red fruits.
- A kind of red grape that is highly planted and harvested in Crete.
- It is usually used to produce pink rose wine and red wines.
- It is pale and light with some flavors of strawberry, red fruit, and cooking herbs.
- It offers a deep color but, at the same time, spicy red wine.
- It has a juicy red-berry fruity flavor with a peppery finish.
- It was once considered a cinderella of the grape varieties because of its almost extinction.
- It has an aroma of mint, peach, lemon, lime, and white flowers.
- It usually produces dark, savory, and spicy ripe red wine.
- It has to age in the barrel for 6 months up to 1 year to maximize its full potential.
- It originated in Patra and Cephalonia.
- It is famous as a dessert wine because of its deep red grape variety.
- It also has a high acidity content.
- It has a distinct aroma of bay leaf, coffee, ink, and black fruits.
- It has numerous flavors, which include plum, cherry, cinnamon, mocha, vanilla, cacao, and clove. Though you may consider this a very odd mix of flavors, they form a very harmonious complete taste when they are mixed.
- It is considered to be the signature red grape of Santorini.
- It is classified as the common grape vine.
- It is a dark-skinned grape variety.
- It has very soft tannins and low acid content.
- It is usually used to compliment the Xinomavro.
- It is slightly fresh and has a citrusy aroma, such as lemon, grapefruit, fennel, and other citrus fruits.
- Tastes a little fruitier and has an ample content of acidity and alcohol.
- It tends to be dry.
- It usually produces crisp roses and white wines.
- It is normally light and elegant.
- It is one of the many kinds of grapes that is quite resistant to drought.
- It has a soft acidity while it produces an aroma.
- It is best paired with food that has an intense taste but is not really too complex.
- It has stone fruit, apple, and clean fruity flavors.
- It also has a moderate acid and alcohol content.
- It is also considered to be an emerging star of wines.
- It also has complex aromas, which include the scents of apricot, melon honey, herbs, and peaches.
- It is also known as sour black.
- It also ages well and has a very rich titanic trait.
4 Frequently Asked Questions about Greek Wines
We understand that despite all the necessary pieces of information provided above, there will still be questions that somehow remain unanswered for you, making you constantly curious.
With this, we have gathered 4 frequently asked questions for the following questions:
Why should you try Greek Wine?
Though Greek wines tend to be underrated, some people love to drink Greek Wine, and if you are not one of them, then one of the many reasons why you should try a Greek wine is because of its specialty: wherein it is often a white wine that is blended with the sap of an Allepo Pine Tree. Moreover, Greek wines are also aromatic and taste sweet.
What is the most famous Greek Wine?
The most famous Greek wine is a white wine variety, which is the Assyrtiko, and it is found and produced in almost every region in the country. Though, it is primarily made in Paros.
Are Greek Wines expensive when bought in Greece?
You will find it surprising that the price of each Greek Wine in Greece is relatively cheap compared to those available internationally.
Of course, it is locally made, and there are no other miscellaneous charges. Though it may be inexpensive, that does not necessarily mean the quality was compromised. After all, Greece is the home of Greek wines.
What region is the best at producing Greek Wine?
The best region to produce Greek Wines is Pelopponnese because it is where the finest and most extraordinary wines in Greece are made. Peloponnese is known for producing white and red wine varieties and is also considered the most prominent wine-growing zone in Greece.
Popular Greek Wines Chart
Type of Wine
● Skouras St. George
● Lantides Winery Nemea Agiorgitiko
● Driopi Rose (Dry) 2015
● Skouras Megas Oenos
● Domaine Sigalas
● Santos Assyrtiko Santorino
● Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko
● Argyros Atlantis White
● Alexakis Assyrtiko
Island of Rhodes
● Mono Athiri White Wine Tsantali
● Domaine Lyrarakis Dafni Psarades
● Vineyard White
● Estate Theodorakakos Kidonitsa 2021
● Kidonitsa Vivino
● Monemvassua Kidonitsa
● Lyrarakis Kotsifali PGI Crete
● Domaine Zacharioudakis Kotsifali PGI Heraklion
● Alexakis Winery Kotsifali - Syrah PGI Crete
● Tatsis Limnio 2020
● Vivino Limnio Wine
● Red Wine
● Pink Rose Wine
● Dafnios Liatiko Red Wine
● Idaia Liatiko
● Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko 2019
● Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona
● Limniona 2015
Attika Thrace, Macedonia
● Argyriou Winery Malagouzia 2022
● Ktima Gerovassiliou Late Harvest Malagousia
● Vourvoukeli Estate Malagouzia PGI Thrace
● Domaine Papagiannakos ‘Kalogeri’ Malaguzia PGI Attika
Aegean Islands, Crete
● Idaia Winery- Ocean Red-Mandilaria syrah PGI Crete
● Venetsanos Winery Mandilaria
● Mavrodaphni of Patra Sweet Red Wine 75CI
● Tsantali Mavrodaphne
● Kourtaki Mavrodaphne of Patrsa
● Santo Wines Mavrotragano
● Mavrotragano SantoriniHatzidakis 2018
● Tatsis Negoska 2014
● Negoska Carbonic 2020
Central Greece Ionian IslandIonian Island
● Robola of Cephalonia San Gerasimo 2021
● Gentilini Robola
● Red Wine
● Pink Rose Wine
● Strofilia 2018 Whiote
● Stelios Kechris 2015 Kechribari Roditis
● Domenico Thrapsathiri
● Ocean Thrapsathiri
● Lyrarakis Wines Vidiano 2021
● Diamantakis Vidiano 2020
● Kir-Yianni Akakies Xinomavro Rose
● ATMA Xinomavro
You may be unfamiliar with Greek Wines before, but now that you know a bit about them, you can always look back and use this Greek Wine guide as your reference whenever you want to cross-check or double-check some information about them.
With this, you will never go wrong when explaining Greek wines to the people around you.
1 thought on “Ultimate Greek Wine Guide: History, Regions, Famous Wines”
the most detailed and complete description of Greek Wine I ever saw or read. Great job !