Are these wines Greek to you? Give them a try

In my New Year’s column in January, I resolved to expand my pleasure by boldly seeking out new wines to try, even if I ended up not liking them.

And I urged readers to do the same. To further that, I will occasionally write about wines I’ve come across you might not have tried, just to see if you want to add them to your repertoire.

And as I always say: Please take notes so you can get them again if you like them.

Let’s start with some Greek wines. Greeks have been drinking wine for 4,000 years, somewhat longer than Americans. In ancient days they held festivals inspired by Dionysus, the god of wine. Later Greek scholars held symposia, in which they drank wine while debating philosophy, feeling it sharpened their wits (sounds like a modern American book club).

More recently, as American wine fans started trying Greek wines, some of them were put off by Greek retsina wines, preserved in pine-pitch vessels and tasting to some, including me, like Pine-Sol. Luckily, U.S. imbibers now are learning that only about 15 percent of Greek wines are retsinas.

I enjoy that Greek wines often have colorful stories behind them. Take the white wine called Ktima Brintziki Enipeas (Ktima means “winery” or “estate”). From grapes grown on the banks of the Enipeas River, it is named for the river god who loved the beautiful Tyro. And its vintners say it embodies the lovers’ passion and tragedy.

Modern fans of Greek wines like to say they’re easy to love but hard to pronounce. Not a problem. Just Google a grape name and ask its pronunciation, and usually you’ll find an audio file that speaks it for you. Turns out the grape assyrtiko is pronounced “ahs-SEER-tee-koh.” And don’t you now seem suave and continental?

Greece’s bone dry white wines are great with the seaside cuisine of seafood, oysters, mussels and white fish. A Greek friend of mine says we might even like retsina if we try it with wood-grilled octopus. You game?


Short list of Greek white grapes:

— Assyrtiko (white): bone dry, crisp, with flavors of citrus, minerals and earth.

— Malagousia (white): soft, full-bodied, with flavors of citrus, jasmine and mint.

— Moschofilero (white): light gray hue, crisp, aromas of roses and violets, flavors of spice.

— Roditis (white): pale rose color, light bodied, with grapefruit flavors.



— 2014 Ktima Gerovassiliou “Malagousia” Single Vineyard white wine, PGI Epanomi (Malagousia grape): pale green hue, floral aromas, flavors of tropical fruits and green apples, very rich; $20.


— Nonvintage Ktima Tselepos “Amalia” Brut white sparkling wine, Arcadia TO, Greece (moschofilero grape): lots of tiny bubbles, pale yellow hue, aromas and flavors of yeast and honey, light and crisp, lightly off-dry; $16.

— 2014 Ktima Brintziki “Enipeas” Dry White Wine PGI Pisatis (75 percent roditis aleppou, 25 percent assyrtiko grapes): pale green hue, floral aromas, flavors of tart pear and cut-grass; crisp and dry; $20.

— 2014 Ktima Biblia Chora “Areti White,” PGI Pangeon (assyrtiko grape): pale yellow hue, citrus aromas, flavors of grapefruit, bitter almond finish; $14.


(Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at