Greece has a long history of winemaking dating back over 4,000 years to when Greek wines were exported all over the western world. But after a fall in production due to vine killing pests and a decrease in trade during the middle ages Greece’s wine industry remained largely undeveloped until the 20th century. It was not until Greece joined the European Union (EU) in the mid-1980s that it began to shift away from making simple jug wines and began producing those of higher quality by using stricter viticulture practices and modern winemaking techniques.
Today Greece is considered a maker of world-class wines with over 300 indigenous grape varieties grown throughout the country which allows for great diversity and unique expressions in the wines produced. Still, most consumers outside of Greece are only familiar with Retsina, a traditional wine with a flavor of pine resin that was once used as a preservative for wine. Now Greece produces white, rose, and red wines in dry, sweet, and sparkling styles from all over the Greek mainland and islands.
Greek wine and food are an inseparable pair, and the Greeks rarely drink without food. Due to its rocky terrain sheep and goats are the main domesticated animals that are relied on for their milk and meat. Lamb is prized for its tenderness and rich flavor, which makes it a perfect match for many Greek wines.
Lamb Souvlaki Wine Pairing
Xinomavro Red Wine
Xinomavaro is one of Greece’s two most important red grape varieties. It grows in Northern Greece and especially in the region of Naoussa. It produces a full-body, robust, high tannin and acidic wine with flavors of dark cherry, raspberry, and charred wood. Some have compared Xinomavro to the Italian wine Barolo both in flavor and how the wines age. It is natural to pair this earthy wine with a traditional dish like Souvlaki. Xinomavaro also goes well with meat stews, sausages, and aged cheeses.