The following post was written by Heinen’s wine expert, Ed Thompkins.
Our passion for sourcing great wines from around the world is what drives our Wine Department, and we’re thrilled to introduce a curated selection of Greek wines that we discovered during our recent Mediterranean explorations!
The wines of Greece have been on our radar for the past few years for a few reasons:
- They are made from unique indigenous grapes.
- The Greek wine industry has become as modern as any in Europe.
- They offer incredible values.
Greek wines may be “new” to most Americans, but in reality, they’re actually going through something of a renaissance. Despite having a history of winemaking dating back 3,000BC, the modernization of the Greek wine industry really took off in the early 1990s. Through innovative changes in vineyard management and wine production, the wines of Greece have maintained their uniqueness while capturing world-class quality.
The more wines we tasted from Greece, the more we recognized the lively, unique and extraordinarily food-friendly characteristics of the indigenous grapes. Luckily, our stores feature a robust collection of Greek and Mediterranean food solutions that will truly capture your imagination and palate as they have for our wine team. Check out a few of our favorite Greek wine finds below. Cheers!
One of the most famous and prestigious white wines in the world, this wine is made from 100% Assyrtiko (as-CER-tiko) grown on the beautiful island of Santorini. Despite the beauty of the island, grape growing is a challenge due to the prevailing winds. To protect the grapes, the Assyrtiko vines are tightly spooled close to the ground (resembling something like a bird’s nest). The rugged conditions produce a wine with racy acidity and sea salt brine minerality driven by crisp lemon peel notes. This example reminds us of a hypothetical cross of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Chablis.
- Perfect Pairing: Chopped Greek Salad with Grilled Lemon Shrimp Kabob
Domaine Skouras “St. George”
Named Aghiorghitiko (ah-yor-YEE-ti-ko) in local dialect, this hard-to-pronounce red grape is also known as St. George. This dramatic example is produced in the Peloponnese region in vineyards that sit 650 meters above sea level. The relatively cool climate allows for vibrant crispness to mingle with fully ripened grapes to create a deliciously juicy tasting experience. Minimal oak aging is used to emphasize the grape’s bright raspberry and cherry notes. If you had to pin us on a comparison, we would reluctantly say Merlot, or perhaps Pinot Noir, but it’s so much more unique than that!
- Perfect Pairing: Spinach and Feta Greek Burgers
Made from a blend of the aforementioned Aghiorghitiko and the native copper-skinned Moscofilero (mos-CO-feel-er-o), this exotic and fragrant Rosé tastes like a sunny day by the sea. Quite the “serious” Rosé, the wine exudes gorgeous aromas and flavors of rose petal, ripe cherry and honeysuckle. Chill, swill and enjoy!
- Perfect Pairing: Simplicity! We love it with our Esti Greek hummus, dips and spreads on a cheese and veggie board on a bright summer day.
Zoe Red Blend
Aghiorghitiko is back again, but this time its blended with the much more familiar Cabernet Sauvignon. This one is all about ripe fruit and refreshment (yes, a light red can be as refreshing as a white or Rosé!). Known for ripe plum and grape flavors, this wine is simply charming. It’s our new favorite “summer red” that you can pop in the fridge for 15 minutes for the ultimate refreshment.
- Perfect Pairing: Grilled Chicken Greek Salad (served on the deck or patio!)