The Bacchus Report: Discovering mythical treasure

Thanks to the Olympics, Greece basked in the spotlight of the world’s populace. This focused interest on everything Greek, including wine, and the country was recently host to elite sommeliers at their world championship.

foto: Věroslav Sixt

No matter where you go in Greece, you’ll find two typical agricultural products – olive oil and wine. White, rosé, ruby-red, and deep red. Dry, sweet, aromatic, heavy, and light. Outstanding, good, or nearly undrinkable for Czechs. Vineyards and olive groves abound in the northern part of the country, near the border with Macedonia, as well as on outlying islands far out in the Aegean Sea. This geographical dispersion, along with original varietals, creates an unbelievably broad spectrum of aromas and flavors that every wine lover or casual tourist is bound to love.
The further you sail south from island to island, the more you encounter a phenomenon that’s unusual for us. The vineyards aren’t planted on southern slopes, but on the northern parts of the islands, to protect them from the fierce summer sun. Vergilius wrote that “It would be simpler to count grains of sand than types of Greek wines.”
For example, nowhere but in Greek taverns around the world can you sample the typical, inimitable wine called retsina. Back-biters claim that the Turks ordered the Greeks to put pine resin in wine to break them of the wine habit, as it violated their religious customs. But the truth is that it’s an old Greek recipe for preserving and storing wine in the country, where there aren’t any cool cellars and the summers are hot. This allowed wine to survive shipping from island to island in amphoras, with olive oil up to the lid to prevent oxidation.
Connoisseurs and lovers of this truly original beverage can discuss different retsina styles for hours. At first taste it’s shocking, but when you combine it with typical Greek specialties like olives, stuffed grape leaves, feta cheese, moussaka or gyros you quickly acquire a taste for it. Greek mythology is also connected with wine. Dionysus, the god of wine and licentious joy was born there. Ampelography, the scientific field dealing with growing and cultivating grape vines, was named after his friend Ampelos, whom Zeus changed into a grape vine upon his death.
In the last twenty years Greek wine production has gone through a technological revolution, thanks to which Greek white wines, formerly heavy and oxidized, are now very drinkable, fresh wines with original flavors and aromas of original varietals. Cellars are ruled by younger-generation winemakers who studied in France, California, and Australia.
Although globally fashionable varietals such as cabernet and sauvignon are grown in Greece, most vineyards are still full of original, old varietals unseen elsewhere in the world. The Greeks are benefitting from generous EU subsidies for supporting and maintaining original varietals that today give Greek wines their originality and ever greater success on the saturated global wine market.

The author is the editor of Hospodářské noviny’s IN magazine.


A sleek and chic corkscrew with matching holder from Philippi will give a new ‘twist” to opening your favorite vintage. CZK 500.

Available at: by DeFacto, Perlová 6, Praha 1

Upcoming tastings

Letenský zámeček, Letenské sady, Praha 7
Oct. 13 – 19:30 tasting of Languedoc-Roussillon wines, from wineries Domaine du Moulin de Lene, Domaine Lafage and Chateau d’Angels.
Oct. 27 – 19:30 tasting of South African wines of Deetlefs Estate winery. Entrance CZK 200, registration on


Golden Retsina
Characteristics: A typical specimen of pure retsina with the distinct taste and aroma of pine resin.
Price: 99 Kč

Grande Reserve Boutari
Characteristics: A fiery red, robust dry wine with long persistence, made from the original Ximomavro varietal.
Price: 386 Kč

Xerolithia V.Q.P.R.D.
Characteristics: A greenish-gold fresh wine with a marked aroma of tropical fruits, made from the Vilana varietal.
Price: 295 Kč

Nobile V.Q.P.R.D.
Characteristics: A mature, full-bodied red wine of the highest quality, with tones of fresh-roasted almonds, made from the Kotsifali and Mandilaria varietals.
Price: 568 Kč

Moscato of Samos A.O.C.
Characteristics: A golden-yellow, naturally sweet wine with a marked, elegant muscat aroma and flavor.
Price: 225 Kč

These wines are imported by:
Olympia gastro, Americká 8, Praha 2, tel.: 602 850 290,
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