August 15, 2013
The fiftieth annual Greek Festival is coming up next weekend. August 23-25th! With that amazing display of Greek culture, culinary delicacies, and outstanding homemade Greek desserts, it is a good time to talk about the rich Hellenic history of wines, liquors, and beers.
Greece has been making wines for centuries. The History of Greece is rich in stories and plays glorifying the pleasures of wine. The ancient Greeks even had their own God of Wine—Dionysius. He would often come down from MT Olympus to share in the revelry of fine wine and food with the humans of Ancient Greece.
Greece in modern times is quickly becoming well known for the beautiful wines being grown through the rocky mountain sides of the Peloponnesus and fertile plains of Macedonia. Indigenous Grape varieties include Xinomavro, and Agiorghitiko. These are all red grapes that can make rich flavorful wines that can be favorably compared to your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlots, and Syrah. Try Boutari Nemea for a rich but still smooth red wine. It has a velvety finish and pairs well with grilled meats and heavy appetizers. Another beautiful red wine is Lafkiotis Agiorghitiko. The name itself translates to St George. It has a soft backbone of tannins, but still opens up into an explosion of leather and black cheery flavors.
However the Mediterranean diet begs to be enjoyed with white wines. The panoply of vegetables, fruits, seafood and of course the olive oil pairs with the great whites of Greece. Moschofilero is the perfect summer wine. It is a fragrant white with the color of straw and flavors of slight peach and a hint of sweetness to refresh your palate. It is the best selling Greek wine in America.
Mavrodaphne is a famous dessert wine. It comes from my family’s hometown of Patras. Its name means the dark, beautiful Daphne. It was created by a German wine maker named Clauss, who came to Greece for vacation and fell in love with the culture, land and of course the beautiful maiden Daphne! He created the historic Achaia Clauss winery in the hills overlooking the Aegean Sea in Patras and made this one of a kind dessert wine that is as sweet and beautiful as his new bride! A true labor of love!
Greece’s hot summer means that you have to have a good beer also! And the beer of Greece is Mythos. It comes from the northern part of Greece and is a great beer for warm days. It is a lager that has a satisfying finish, similar to Stella Artois and St Pauli Girl. A little more flavorful than your traditional American beers—but not overpowering or hoppy. Try it when you see it and you will be very satisfied!
If you see me at the Greek Festival next weekend, make sure to ask me for a little ouzo! Ouzo is the traditional after dinner drink of Greece. It is an anise-flavored liqueur that is smooth and satisfying. It was originally made for its medicinal properties and as a digestif to help settle your stomach after a great Greek dinner! I love to drink it with ice and a little water. It has the amazing magic trick of turning cloudy as the ice and water intermingle with the delicious elixir! Try it with the homemade baklava and kourambiethes pastries you can get at the 50th annual Greek Festival next week! Come out to enjoy the wonderful music, dancing, religious history, and joyful culture of Greece. But even more be Greek for a day and live life to the fullest! OPA!