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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wine (Κρασί)

I was saddened to hear that Greek wine producers are facing a dip in sales. The crisis has stopped people from buying wine. But wine prices have never been better than now. This is one reason why I am actually buying bottled wine these days, something I had not done for at least 15 years.

We are not heavy drinkers, but there has never been a lack of wine in our house. In fact, we even give wine away to our friends. My late father was an amateur wine maker, in the style of many rural people, and he left us four 20kg barrels of home brew. This wine is quite different from bottled wine. It's made with the grapes of the season, and is usually drink quite soon after it is made, with supplies running out just when the next wine-making season starts.

Home brew is not considered by wine makers to be true wine in the spirit of modern wine making. It's the stuff tavernas serve. It's very cheap and can be bought in bulk. The display of barrels in a taverna make for a picturesque but rather quaint view. It varies in taste and quality. It is wine, but it does nto compare in any way to bottled wine. Sometimes, it's downright awful, like house wine in restaurants in Western countries, which serve the leftover untouched wine of other customers, all mixed together, or the bulk-buy wines that we can get in plastic bags packaged in boxes. But there are also times when it is very good. It is very cheap to buy: a 1.5 litre PET bottle (for that is how this wine is sold) won't cost you much more than €3-4.

None of the bottles pictured cost me more than €4-5 a bottle, and all were purchased as a pair (buy one, get one free). Our local friends will be getting wine (and good Greek craft beer) for Chrsitmas.  

It's all a question of taste. I am now tired of our rose-coloured home brew, which is starting to taste more like brandy than wine. I have always liked dry white wine. When I decided to buy some (I have only started buying bottles Greek wine since last summer), I was surprised to find such a large array at our local supermarkets. The bottles are nearly all standard size wine bottles (750ml), at a range of prices. What's more, there seem to be many offers these days for wines being sold as 2 bottles for the price of 1, so you can get 2 bottles for under €10. The range of wines is so large that I never seem to be buying the same wines.

A friend asked me to consider buying some imported wine to understand the differences in wine making traditions from different countries:
"There is a lot to be said for the creativity and unrestricted rules of the Kiwi winemakers that few Greek producers can match, burdened as they are by history, tradition and unadventurous customers. Kevin Judd recently said at a talk in Athens that there is very little bad NZ wine."
Despite my friend's advice, I will probably not bother buying foreign wines. They will most likely be more expensive than Greek wine, but there is another reason why I wouldn't buy imported wine. Even if I bought wine just once a week, there are hundreds of wine producers to choose from even at the supermarket, and all Greek of course. And I've never bought 'bad' wine (ie something that is not drinkable). It's all a matter of taste which is measurable by degrees.

I am not a wine geek, but I would like to be, in a sense. At the same time, there is too much mysticism surrounding wine: there are people who who analyse it not just by its taste but by its aroma; then there are those who tell you what food will pair with which wine variety; the price factor is also another aspect - must wine be expensive to enjoy? I know nothing about the above-mentioned aspects. I just know what I like to drink.

It's times like this when our finances do not allow for luxuries that Greek wine has not just become  affordable but also improved greatly in quality. So now is definitely the time to buy wine.

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