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Do all grapes give wine?

All cultivated grape varieties can be classified, using different criteria, into different groups and categories. Taking, however, the “criterion of destination” into account, the conventional distinction into the following categories has been internationally accepted:

a) table varieties of which grapes are suitable for fresh consumption.
b) winery varieties, of which grapes are suitable for wine production
c) currant production varieties, of which grapes are suitable for the production of currants.

It is worth mentioning that some varieties have double and triple uses, which means that they can be used for more than one purpose.

What types of wines are there?

Apart from wine categories, the following types also exist:

a) Depending on their colour, wines are distinguished into white, rose and red. The colour of the wine depends on the grape variety that is used, but also on the method of wine production.
b) Depending on their content in sugar, wines are distinguished into dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet.
c) Depending on their content in diluted carbon dioxide, wines are distinguished into still, semi-sparkling and sparkling.

Which wines are characterised as V.Q.P.R.D.? What are Local Wines?

V.Q.P.R.D. is the French translation that means “Quality Wine Produced in Determined Regions”. In Greece (which is in absolute compliance with European Legislation), V.Q.P.R.D. are the Designation of Origin wines for which the legislation specifies: the wine production zone, the variety composition of the vineyards, the cultivation techniques, the methods of wine production, the minimum alcohol strength and the size of the vineyards. They are separated into two sub-categories:

a) OPAP = Appellation of Origin of High Quality wines distinguished by a red tape. Legislated OThere are 20 OPAP wines in total.
b) OPE = Appellation of Origin Controlled wines, distinguished by a blue tape. There are 8 Legislated OPE wines.

The tapes are placed on the mouth of the bottle and are supplied by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food based on the stated production and constituting a sign of the wines’authenticity.

Local wines are a sub-category of wines which have rapidly developed in Greece during recent years. These are wines that enter the market with an Indication of Origin and their production is carried out under certain conditions, such as: the use of recommended or permissible wine varieties in wine production for each area, the cultivation techniques, the size of the vineyards and the alcoholic strength.

The characterisation of “Local Wine” should be combined with the Geographical Unit Indication which states the Origin of the Wine and may refer to:

a) a viniculture zone smaller than the prefecture, e.g. Local Agioritikos
b) a prefecture or a province, e.g. Local Chalkidiki
c) a viniculture district, e.g. Local Macedonia, Local Thessaly
d) a viniculture zone larger than the prefecture.

How is rose wine produced?

This is a type of wine between red and white wine. Rose wines have a colour that approaches that of red wines, while its organoleptic properties are closer to those of white wines. The production of rose wines may be done by:

a) using red varieties and applying white wine production methods
b) using red varieties and once the first steps of white wine production are carried out (de-stemming and crushing), a more brief infusion process is carried out.

It is by no means permitted to mix red and white wine together in order to produce rose wine (even though certain low cost wine producers do this).

At which temperatures should wines be served?

The appropriate temperature at which wines should be served highlights their aromatic and flavoursome richness and offers full enjoyment.
The correct temperature for sweet and sparkling wine is 6o-8oC, for white and rose semi-dry and semi-sweet wine it is 8o-10oC, while for dry white and rose wine, it is 10o-12oC. Wines that mature in oak barrels are at their best at 12o-14oC, fruity young red wines at 14o-16oC and soft red wines at 16o-18oC. Last, rich mature wines reveal their grace when they are served 18o-19oC.

Do all wines mature or not and why?

Not all wines mature and, even those that do, do not mature indefinitely. Wine is a living organism that evolves and changes character, even within the bottle. Therefore, when this change of character improves its organoleptic properties, the wine is said to be “receptive to maturity”. If the quality of wine, however, drops with the passing of time, it is said that the wine is “ageing”. However, the lifespan of wines that are “receptive to maturity” is not indefinite. Depending on their type, they reach a “quality optimum” and from there, a declining course begins until their expiration, which is natural for all wines. Specifically:

a) it is recommended that white, rose and fresh fruity red wines are consumed within the first two years of their production date. That is when their organoleptic properties are at their best. There are, however, certain white wines which, only if they have gone through a specific wine production method – are receptive to maturity for some years.

b) The remainder of red wines are more or less receptive to maturity. Maturity and its time process depend on the grape variety that has been used, the wine production method, the year of production and the storage conditions.

What are the ideal conditions for wine storage?

• Basements without excessive temperature fluctuations.
• There must be dim lighting, permanent and discrete ventilation and hygiene should be immaculate.
• The wines should be away from places which experience vibrations. E.g. near elevators, near a busy road, because the harmonious maturity of wines is hindered.

• The temperature of the storage place should be low and steady, 10-14oC. Small fluctuations are not damaging. Sudden and great differences in the temperature are those that should be avoided, especially an increase in temperature that causes the wines to age more quickly.
• Humidity should be at around 70-75%. If the atmosphere is dry, the cork dries up and if it is too humid, there is a risk of micro-organisms growing on the corks.

• They should be well protected from petrol odours, cleaning products and foods in general that emanate strong odours to prevent them from penetrating into the wine.
• They should be laid sideways in such a manner so that the cork wets the wine. Otherwise, the cord will dry up and become hard which leads to quicker air penetration and oxidization of the wine.
• Bottles of white and rose wines should be placed on the lower shelves where the air that circulates is cooler and there is less light. Then the red wine bottles should be placed. Alcoholic beverages and wines-liquors are usually kept in an upright position.

What Greek varieties exist?

There are many Greek quality varieties, of which we present the most well-known:

Red Wines:
AGIORGITIKO This is, perhaps, the most well-known variety. Soft, fruity wine, which thrives mainly in the Peloponnese.
XINOMAVRO. The characteristic variety that is cultivated in Northern Greece, in the areas of Macedonia with high tannins and maturing capabilities. It is often compared to Nebbiolo.
MANDILARIA. Also known as Amorgiano, it is cultivated mainly on the islands of Rhodes and Crete. This is a particularly tannin wine that is often mixed with other varieties to soften its strong character.
MAVRODAPHNE. A famous variety from the Peloponnese and the Ionian islands. It is usually served as a dessert wine and has a strong aroma and character.

White Wines:
ASSYRTIKO. A manifold variety, the acidity of which increases as it ages. It is traditionally produced on Greek islands.
ATHIRI. A variety with low acidity and of the most ancient. It was initially cultivated at Santorini, but is now produced at Macedonia, on the island of Rhodes and in Attica.
MALAGOUZIA. A high quality Macedonian variety with a unique aroma and a full body.
MOSCHOFILERO. A protected designation of origin variety from Mantinia (the Peloponnese). This wine has a strong, fruity character.
ROMBOLA. Cultivated on the mountainous vineyards of Cephalonia. It has an earthy character with the aroma of tobacco.
RODITIS. A variety that is produced mainly in Attica, Macedonia, Thessaly and the Peloponnese. A luxurious, light white wine with a citrus aroma.
SABBATIANO. A characteristic white wine of Attica, with a fruity scent of flowers.

What is Retsina?

Retsina is the wine which contains a dissolved quantity of gum resin (retsina). It was discovered by accident during ancient times while the Greeks were trying to preserve their wines for longer periods of time (retsini was the air-tight material on the lid of the wine amphora.

Today, according to National and Community Legislation, the name RETSINA mainly refers to white dry table wine. Retsina bears the “Traditional Appellation” label. In other words, it is listed as a Greek product and no other member-State of the European Union has the right to state “Retsina” on the label of its product, even if the same production method has been applied.

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