Hellenic wine: “Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια" (in wine [there is the] truth)…

Monday evening a friend invited me to be a part of a Greek wine and food pairing at a restaurant in the West Side.

The invitation served as a great opportunity to expand my horizons in Hellenic wine culture given that my palate only remembered being exposed to a type of wine called Retsina , a wine emanating flavors of pine trees and turpentine. The Retsina flavor originates in ancient Greece where amphoras were sealed using Pine resin to preserve the wine from being oxidized. As technology advanced and barrels, corks, and bottles were implemented, the need for pine resin was no longer needed; however, the flavor became a part of the cultural identity, loved by many, and thus the Retsina wine retained its pine characteristic which is now acquired by fermenting the wine using an Aleppo Pine resin. Monday night however was not a night of pine aromas and flavors; instead, it was a night of enjoyable and interesting wines originating from grape varieties whose names are difficult to  remember but that have left an impression.

First Paring:
Warm squid salad with fava beans, frisee, oregano & lemon accompanied by a 2010 Domaine Sigalas, assyrtiko-athiri. The Domaine Sigalas is a wine originating from the volcanic island of Santorini. The assyrtiko-athiri label denotes the wine is made from a blend of 2 indigenous white grapes: Assyrtiko and Athiri, a type of grape used to make Retsina.

Visually the wine displayed a golden color typical of an aging wine or a wine aged in oak barrel.  The color was reminiscing of the color found in a California Chardonnay. Swirling the wine around the glass illustrated a medium plus viscosity, an indication of high alcohol content or some residual sugar in the wine.

On the nose the wine was a combination of smells, primarily the wine was rich in tropical smells: pineapple and minor notes of banana. The primary aromas were followed by a secondary layer of citrus smells and a third layer of mineral aromas. The wine also was warm on the nose, hinting that the viscosity of the wine was a result of high alcohol content.

On the palate the wine was a dry wine displaying low to medium acidity, medium plus body (high alcohol content), moderate flavor intensity, and a medium finish. The Domaine Sigalas followed the nose, primarily tropical flavors of pineapple and pear complemented by a small and delicate citrus and mineral quality. The wine was an enjoyable paring with the warm squid salad although the light spices in the salad were intensified by the alcohol content in the Domaine Sigalas which resulted in a warm mouthfeel.

Bottle Cost: $15 + tax. 

Second Paring:

Spanakopita with spinach & feta paired with a 2009 Skouras, Moschofilero. The moschofilero label denoted the wine was made primarily of the indigenous grape moschofilero which is typically grown in the Peloponnese peninsula.

Visually the wine was not very exciting in color; the glass of wine displayed a pale yellow color with a dull hue. Furthermore the wine was somewhat cloudy as a result of small diameter crystals floating in the wine. The crystals were tartrates, particles that precipitate out of solution in some wines when the wine is stored under below optimal cold temperatures. 

On the nose the wine became more interesting, emanating floral and crisp citrus notes of lemon and green apple. On the palate the wine was a dry wine displaying medium acidity, light medium body (moderate alcohol content), a moderate flavor intensity, and a short finish. The notes of citrus and green apple persisted in the palate although the short finish made the Skouras a thin wine

In my opinion the lack of structure in the wine could have been as a result of the cold serving temperature , which negatively affected the quality of the wine thus making it thin. During my research about the Skouras wine I came across positive feedback about it crisp quality which I will have to experiment again. One of the things I enjoy about wine is that like art, it leads you back to re-experience and reinterpret over and over again.

Bottle Cost: $15 + tax. 

Third Paring:

Muhammara with walnuts, throubes olives & ricotta salata paired with a 2007 Skouras, Megas Oenos, from the Peloponnese Peninsula.

The Mega Oenos is a blend of one indigenous grape Agiorghitiko and the worldly Cabernet Sauvignon, 80% to 20% ratio respectively.

 Visually the wine displayed brilliance and deep intense purple color. The wine displayed fruit aromas of blueberries, red cherries, and blackberries intertwined with bouquet of truffle, smoke, and leather. The palate showed a well balanced wine with medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins, and medium plus alcohol. The delicious aromas also persisted in the palate and the wine provided a velvety medium palate reminiscing of a “typical” right-bank Bordeaux wine making this a very inviting wine. The high level of fruitiness offered by the wine was probably offered by the Agiorghitiko grape while the structure and most of its tannins might have come from the Cabernet Sauvignon. All in all, Megas Oenos presented a delicious wine and a great company for food.

Bottle Cost: $27 + tax.  

Fourth Paring:

Lamb kabab with tzatziki, watercress, & flatbread paired with a 2007 Domaine Karydas, Xinomavro, from Macedonia, the largest and second most populous region of Greece. The grape variety used in the wine is Xinomavro.

Visually the wine displayed a light ruby red color and low opacity. On the nose it presented mainly aromas of red cherry accompanied by gently by tomatoes, olives, and an herbaceous quality. The palate demonstrated a wine with medium plus acidity, medium body, and medium tannins. A perfect wine for tomatoes based dishes. The wine had a quality similar to a young Nebiolo, abundant amounts of acidity and velvety tannins followed by a mid palate showcasing dried fruit, spices, herbs, red cherry, and a gentle chalky mouthfeel. 

Bottle Cost: $27 + tax. 


The exposure to the new wines changed my limited perspective about Hellenic wine and I look forward to experiencing more of Greece’s terroir through its oino (wine).

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