It’s International Beer Day! Greece isn’t terribly well known for its beer (if you’re interested, here’s a pretty cool rundown of Greece’s brew scene), but it’s got one of the oldest winemaking traditions in the world, so I think you’ll probably be okay should you choose to celebrate tonight with some Nemean red. Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about two of Greece’s most famous and lovely wine regions: Nemea and Santorini. I’ve talked a little about Nemea in the past, because it’s one of my favorite foodie getaways in the whole country.
In ancient times, Nemea was famous as the site of the Nemean Games, an off-year complement to the more famous Olympics, and also as where Heracles killed the fearsome Nemean Lion as the first of his 12 labors. Now, it’s a little different. Like any other good-natured people, the Greeks loooove their wine, and the Nemea region has become something like Greece’s own Napa Valley! The Peloponnese is home to a special variety of wine grape called the agiorgitiko, which is only grown in Greece and gives Nemean wine it’s distinctive qualities. Like any good wine region, there’s a ton of variety and several different kinds of wine can be produced from the agiorgitiko, but a good Nemean agiorgitiko is typically characterized by its deep red color and fruity aromas. It evokes something passionate, like the Greeks themselves! If you want to experience the Nemean wine roads for yourself, we offer some great tours that include tastings at several different Nemean wineries—adults only!
Now, on the other end of the spectrum you have Santorini, because what island paradise would be complete without its own special wine? Everyone knows that Santorini is actually the remnant of a huge, ancient volcano, but you might not know just how much that affects food and drink across the whole island. Santorini specializes in several unique varieties of white grape, maintaining a special tradition that dates back to the time of the ancients but was only commercialized and sent all over the world once the Venetians showed up and realized how great it was (and if you’re going to take advice on wine from anybody, the Italians are probably a pretty safe bet). Authentic “Santorini” wine is made with a grape called the assyrtiko, which produces a super-dry, sharp, and citrusy vintage thanks to the volcanic nature of the soil the vines are grown in. The mineral content of this soil also means that many of the diseases and parasites that often infect grapevines all over the world are nowhere to be found in Santorini, so many of the wineries and vines are unusually old, which gives the wine a whole other unique kind of quality. They take this stuff seriously in Santorini—there’s even an underground wine museum! If you’re planning a trip to any of the Cyclades, especially Santorini, make sure to ask us about wine tours and experiences. You might not be able to bring the perfect Greek salad home with you, but you sure can bring a bottle of wine! It doesn’t last quite as long as the memories, but it could just be the next-best thing.