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Greek wine varieties are easier on the palate than the pronunciation.
Pick up one of the oldest books or plays ever written, particularly from ancient Greek literature, and you'll find plenty of wine drinking going on between all those heroic voyages home, bloody battles, marrying mothers and burying brothers.
Unfortunately, Greek wine didn't quite take off with the rest of civilization over the next few thousand years. Believe it or not, though, the quality of Greek wine is finally getting better by the day, as growers and winemakers treat wine production like a serious business. Granted, it's still an uphill battle--and grape names like Agiorghitiko, Xinomavro and Moschofilero probably don't help much in other parts of the world.
But get over it and go with the flow. In particular, we suggest you try an Assyrtiko. The grape is a variety indigenous to Santorini, and it yields a very pleasant, steely, minerally wine with bright acidity. It's not the most interesting or complex variety (think Sauvignon Blanc, minus a little character), but it's a perfect match with fresh oysters or sushi. Definitely keep Assyrtiko in mind as the weather gets warmer since it's a nice, refreshing wine you don't have to think about too much (and you can find plenty of them for $10 or less).
If you do want a thinking-person's Greek wine, however, seek out a blend of Assyrtiko and Robola (a variety grown in Slovenia and Italy, in addition to Greece) from Mercouri Estate called Kallisto (2009, $17). This wine has much more body and roundness. It has the vibrancy of a Riesling, the roundness of a Pinot Gris and the acidity you find in a Sauvignon Blanc--yet is something unique unto itself. This was one very pleasant surprise.
What's your favorite Greek food item to pair with a light white such as Assyrtiko? Tell us what it is below.
Tags: assyrtiko, greek wine