All About Ancient Greek Wine Grape Varieties

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115880583You don’t need to wander far in Greece in order to encounter grapevines. Wandering through the countryside could easily put you in contact with some of these vines, and many of them come from some ancient varieties. Mostly, they are used to make Greek wine.  Farmers markets are also crammed with bunches of grapes that come from these vines and the people love snacking on this fruit as much as they love pressing it for its juice and letting it ferment.

In Greece today, there is a combination of ancient and new varieties growing all over the country. While there are a few grapes that are always expected, innovating winemakers are always looking for new grapes and often bring the in from other wine regions. In fact, there are around 300 varieties of wine grapes that are grown in Greece today, and winemakers grow them for various reasons, such as heir flavor, color, and body. Here’s an overview of the types of grapes that can be found in Greece:

Ancient Greek Wine Grapes

Greece is one of the oldest wine regions in the world and they began making it over 6500 years ago. Some of the varieties of grapes that were around thousands of years ago are still growing in Greece today. These include the agiorgitiko, assyrtiko, athiri, moshofilero, roditis, limnio and xinomavro varietals. Over time, as the Greek culture spread, so did its love for wine and their worship of the wine god, Dionysius.

Ancient Greeks Preferred Sweet Wine

Archaeological evidence has been uncovered that suggests that back then, Greeks preferred wine that is on the sweeter side, which means that only extremely ripe or even partially dried grapes were used. Although not every variety of grape gets sweet when ripened, a fair number of them do. One of the reasons why the Ancient Greeks preferred sweet wines is that they tended to mix their wine with water, and sweet wines tend to maintain their flavor better when mixed. In fact, the Ancient Greeks loved sweet wine so much, they often mixed dry wines with honey.

Modern Wine Making in Greece

As mentioned above, there are about three hundred or so wine grape varietals that can be found in Greece. Although many Greeks do still love sweet wines, the palate has changed a bit in order to accept wines that are on the dryer side. In addition to sweet grapes with a high sugar content, such as Mavrodaphne, other varietals such as Mandilaria, which is grown on the island of Crete, is a little bit on the dryer side. Each wine region in Greece has its own grapes that it grows well, and they all have different ways to blend the grapes together.

Although many winemakers bring in grapes from other regions, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, modern Greek winemakers are particularly good at creating wines for the modern palate that use ancient grapes, such as the limino grape that has been grown in Greece for over 2000 years.

Learn more about the different Greek wines by visiting our wine section!


Wikipedia – Greek Wine

Wikipedia – History of Wine

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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