Fancy the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates prescribing wine to patients suffering from stomach ailments! But that’s what the great medicine man did thousands of years ago. While Greece is one of the earliest wine-producing countries of the world, evidence of Greek Wine dates back 6,500 years when ships carrying wine from Greece sailed through the Mediterranean to Northern European ports on a regular basis. Also, wines exported from Crete, Monemvasia and several other Greek ports fetched high price from Italy under the Roman Empire.
History of the Greek Wine
From 1600 BC till the birth of Jesus Christ, the spread of Greek civilisation and the worship of Dionysus, the god of wine went far and wide throughout the Mediterranean areas. Greek wines were greatly honored and appreciated while it was used by many for medicinal purposes. Vitris vinifera, a kind of vine introduced by the ancient Greeks that thrived well in maritime climate near coastal areas was used extensively for making wine in the then Greek colonies of Sicily, Italy, southern France and Spain.
However, that is all history now. Yes, with time, everything changes. Modern Greece can hardly compete with ‘New World’ countries like Australia and New Zealand wines that are capable of making some of the finest wines in the world. Even France, which is renowned for its winery since ages often admit defeat at the hands of much younger countries or nations that produce wines ‘as per demand’.
Though a Wine Institute was established by the ministry of Agriculture in Greece in the year 1937 but nothing much could be achieved due to incessant socio-economic problems, war and demographic shifts until the early fifties. But things are now beginning to look up in Greece. And it seems that the recent poor history of Greece, at least in wine making is all set to change.
An altogether new wine popularly called Retsina suddenly appeared in the market, capturing it quickly, turning into a national beverage. With faster and cheaper flights operating all over the world that promoted tourism to an unbelievable high degree, Retsina and Greece became a national integration motif. It seems that Greek wine is ready for a fight.
The main wine growing areas in Greece comprise the Aegean Islands of Limnos, Peza, Archanes, Paros, Rhodes, Samos and Santorini. It is also present in Central Greece including Attic, Epirus, Zitsa, Thessaaly, Rapsani and Ankhialos. Then there is the Ionian Island of Kefalonia, Macedonia including Amyntaion, Goumenissa and Naoussa and Peloponnesus including Mantinia, Nemea and Patras.
Though Greek wine has made a comeback of sorts, but the future nevertheless is rather bleak. It seems that the conservative Greek winemakers are rather reluctant to experiment with the curent trends that can be seen in the international markets. There is not much modernisation in the manufacturing process and also hardly any serious effort is being to undertaken to market Greek wine and take it to the world.