Greece produces white wines in dry, sweet, and sparkling styles using native grape varieties from all over the Greek mainland and islands. Three grape varieties make up most Greek white wines that are produced, exported, and sold.
Moschofilero is a pink grape (like Pinot Gris) that comes from the central region of Peloponnese. It produces a dry aromatic wine with floral aromas and primary flavors of lemon, honey dew, and almonds. The Malagousia grape creates a wine with a full body and rich style like that of French Viognier with flavors of peach, lime, lemon oil, and orange blossom.
But the champion white grape of Greece is Assyrtiko. Originating from the island of Santorini, it makes bone dry wines with high acidity, and ripe flavors of lime, lemon, and passion fruit with a subtle hint of saltiness. Assyrtiko labeled as “Nykteri” will have been aged in oak and offer a richer flavor profile of cream, fennel, baked pie crust, and pudding. It can also be made into a sweet wine known as Vinsanto (different from the Italian Vin Santo) for which late harvested grapes are sun dried for up to 14 days and aged in old oak barrels for a minimum of two years. The resulting wine has a luscious sweetness balanced by high acidity with aromas and flavors of caramel and nuts.
High quality Greek wines are not easy to find and most often require going to a boutique wine shop or super wine store with a large and diverse selection of wines. White wines will range in price from $15-$20 dollars a bottle with the sparkling wines priced slightly higher. To ensure you are getting a high quality wine look for the term Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) on the label which means it has met standards set for that grape varietal and region. Greek wine producers to know include D. Koutakis, Boutari, Tselepos, and Domaine Gerovassiliou.
Greek wine and food go together, and the Greeks rarely drink without food. Meze is the term for small bites of food that accompany any glass of wine in Greece. It can include olives, tzatziki dip, crisp cheese stuffed phyllo dough tarts, or small lamb meatballs.
Greek Turkey Meatballs Wine Pairing
Assyrtiko white wine
Assyrtiko is one of the top white wine producing grapes in Greece. A native to Santorini, in the Aegean Islands, it makes a dry crisp wine that’s perfumed with concentrated ripe citrus & stone fruit. It is naturally high in acidity with lemon and minerals and pairs well with the herbs and spices in this Greek meatball dish. Assyrtiko also goes well with feta cheese, olives, and roasted beets.