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Introduction to Greece

A lot of grapes are grown in Greece, but only a few of them are used to make wine (the majority being used as fruit or raisins).

The climate is reliably hot, producing ripe, healthy grapes and fruity wines.

The best vineyards tend to be near the sea, as this provides cool winds which helps retain wines’ acidity. The most notable regions are Nemea, Santorini, Cephalonia, Mantinia and Naousa. The latter produces some great Barolo-like wines from the Xinomavro grape.

Retsina is a speciality of Greece, where pine resin is added to a white wine when young. This gives the wine a distinctive aroma and one that is an acquired taste.

Categories of Greece

  • OPAP (Onomasía Proeléfseos Anotéras Piótitos) - similar to France's AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée), but only covers dry white and red wines (no sweet wines allowed). This category has strict guidelines for produces regarding grape types, methods of production, etc. There are 25 regions within this category.
  • OPE (Onomasía Proeléfseos Eleghoméni) - similar to France's AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée), but only covers sweet wines. As with OPAP, this category has strict guidelines for produces regarding grape types, methods of production, etc. There are 7 regions within this category.
  • Topikos Inos (meaning “Local wine”) - similiar to France's Vin de Pays. 139 areas qualify for this category. These have a lot less rules than OPAP and OPE wines, and does not include information about region, grape type or vintage. A sub-category of TI is “Appellation by Tradition”, which covers Retsina and Verdea.
  • Epitrapezios Inos (“Table wine”) - similar to France's table wine. This category is used by an increasing number of Greek winemakers who do not want to abide by the strict guidelines enforced for OPAP, OPE and TI wines.

 

Other terms

"Reserve" and "Grande Reserve": OPAP and OPE wines can use these terms if they wish. “Reserve” must have been aged for a minimum of 2 years (whites) or 3 years (reds). “Grand Reserve” must have been aged for at least 3 years (whites) or 4 years (reds).

"Kava": Table Wines may have the word “Kava” on them. This refers to wines that have been aged for 2 years (whites) or 3 years (reds) – a minimum of 6 months must have been in barrel.