5@5 - Get to know Greek grapes
March 23rd, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

It'd be a tragedy for you not to try the wines of Greece, that is if Andrea Englisis has a say in it.

Englisis is co-owner of Athenee Importers, the largest importer and distributor of wine, spirits and beer from Greece and Cyprus in the United States. She also holds the Diploma in Wine and Spirits (DWS).

Five Greek Wine Alternatives: Andrea Englisis

andrea englisis
1. If you like Albariño, try Assyrtiko (ah-SEER-tee-ko)
"Assyrtiko is a mineral driven grape with honeysuckle, mineral and citrus aromas and crisp acidity. Predominately grown on and originally from the crescent-shaped volcanic island of Santorini.

Interestingly, Santorini is one of the most inhospitable places to grow grapes; the soil is virtually nutrient-free, rainfall is almost nonexistent and the hot winds throughout the summer can blow away anything not tethered to the ground. For all these reasons, all vineyard work including harvesting is done by hand."

Pairings: Seafood, shellfish and sushi
Brands to look for: GAI'A (yeai-ah) and Argyros (ar-yee-ros)

2. If you like Pinot Gris or crisp floral whites, try a Moschofilero (mo-sko-FEE-le-ro)
"It is a deep pink-skinned grape that makes very aromatic whites and rosés. The grape has beautiful floral notes and a lingering minerality. It is the only grape allowed in the region of Mantinia in the Peloponnese, which is surrounded by mountains, offering a cool climate and longer ripening periods."

Pairings: Shrimp scampi, fish tacos and Asian cuisine
Brands to look for: USDA organic Domaine Spiropoulos

3. If you like southern Italian reds or Merlot, try Agiorgitiko (ai-your-YEE-tee-ko)
"This variety produces a range of different wines, light rosés up to age-worthy reds. They are medium-bodied wines with softer tannins, making them very food friendly and perfect for summer. Grown in the Peloponnese, it is the principal grape of the Nemea region, and is Greece's most planted red grape variety."

Pairings: The rosés and lighter reds match well with a grilled meats and barbecue, or chilled for a picnic.
Brands to look for: GAI'A and Domaine Spiropoulos

4. If you like Nebbiolo or northern Italian reds, try Xinomavro (ksee-NO-mav-ro)
"The grape is intense, full-bodied, with hints of ripe black fruit and a lot of tannin. It also has a good acidity level, actually the name literally means 'acid black.' Xinomavro is found in the Naoussa and Amyndeon appellation zones in northern Greece. They are grown at altitudes ranging from 500 to 1,300 feet."

Pairings: Pasta Bolognese, venison, steak and other richly flavored dishes
Brands to look for: 100% biodynamic Thymiopoulos Vineyards

5. If you like dessert wines, try a Muscat from Samos
"The Muscat grape is a fairly popular around the Mediterranean; however, only in Samos does it produce luscious wines. The notes that prevail are fruity and floral with a pure aroma of grape. Muscat blanc à petits grains is the only grape that grows on the verdant island of Samos in the eastern Aegean Sea. The vineyards rest on terraced perches and harvest is done entirely by hand. Comparable to French Muscat appellations like Beaumes-de-Venise, these wines are half the price."

Pairings: Known as the ultimate dessert wine, they also pair extremely well with rich cheeses and nuts for a Greek happy hour
Brands to look for: UWC of Samos

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Sip • Think • Wine


soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Alex

    Favorite wine Muscat of Samos!
    http://www.yoursamos.com

    February 15, 2013 at 8:05 am | Reply
  2. Kostas

    Macedonian wines are excellent. Just have in mind that these must be produced in Macedonia the north county of Greece and NOT Fyrom as they are Protected Designation Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products and can only originate, be produced and exported by GREECE (such as feta cheese).

    http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/wine/e-bacchus/index.cfm?event=detailPEccgi&language=EN&eccgiId=4327

    If you see any bottle of wine named Macedonian and originating from Fyrom (or Republic of Macedonia) this is ILLEGAL thus REPORT it immediately.

    ps. CNN should be more lawful and careful on its reportage. All youtube videos of Nic Robertson of CNN about Macedonian wine from Fyrom should be removed immediately as these talk about an ILLEGAL product.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  3. That's what I'm talkin' about!

    5. If you like dessert wines, try a Muscat from Samos.

    March 27, 2012 at 7:23 am | Reply
  4. Ms. Grammar

    My favorite is Retsina.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
  5. Mary

    I like Mavrodaphne

    March 26, 2012 at 10:10 am | Reply
  6. gina

    my taste buds are jumping and im excited

    March 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Reply

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