Four Millennia of Vines: Varietals You Should Know from Greece

By Lauren Loeffler

Greek wines are often underappreciated and underrepresented in typical wine chatter and on restaurant menus. Strange, isn’t it? Greece has been in the wine business since the Neolithic period. Let’s say it again; the Neolithic period.

There’s no simple answer as to why Greek wines have become a sort of underdog in the market, but for the past few years, this has been changing. Reputable winemakers in the region have been producing wines that no one can ignore, and it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Here is a list of a few varietals to know and look for as you enjoy the delicious wines coming from Greece.

Agiorgitiko (ah-gee-or-gee-tee-ko)

 This red varietal is the most prominent in Greece. It produces rich, soft wines, with plum and dark fruit flavors. Often used to make red table wines.

Xinomavro (zhee-no-mav-ro)

Second place to Agiorgitiko for most widely planted. Another red varietal, this characteristically shows a bit more bite. It produces bolder, more vibrant wines, with spice, less acidity, and stronger tannins.

Assyrtiko (ah-sir-tee-ko)

 White wines made from Assyrtiko are very dry, mineral driven wines with subtle lemon/lime tones. Classically bright and refreshing, they pair well with seafood and light fair.

Athiri (ah-thee-ree)

 Wines produced from this grape are fruity whites, dominated by stone fruits like nectarines or peaches. It is sometimes blended with Assyrtiko to create a lovely, balanced happy medium for white wine drinkers of varying palates.

Moscofilero (mos-ko-fi-ler-oh)

 Similar in structure to Athiri, wines from this varietal are fruit driven, but with an added floral component in the bouquet, making it a more aromatic white.

Roditis (ro-dee-tis)

 Roditis makes for a light, crisp white, that is elegant and very easy to drink. The skin is a pretty light pink, and in addition to great white wines, roditis is often vinified into rosés.