What is a Retsina?

20190715_175913.jpgUpon a recommendation from a friend we found ourselves at a Greek restaurant on a beautiful summer day and I could think of nothing more perfect to continue the evening.  As I looked over the wine list I quickly realized I would have to brush up on my knowledge of Greek wines, but I didn’t let that stop me from choosing a bottle.  This Retsina wine looked interesting and I love to explore a culture through wine and food so I went for it.  At $20 a bottle it was a lovely surprise and it was perfect for a day after lounging poolside in the sun.  We sat outside on the patio, dinner was a whole grilled sea bass and grilled octopus, with a side of roasted beets, a hunk of warm cheese and crusty bread to pour olive oil over.  The wine was crisp, dry and bright with a mouth-watering tartness, a hint of herbaceous notes and citrus on the palate.  After a day of sunshine it was refreshing and carried throughout the meal.  We had two bottles.  The next day, I did some homework.  This is Retsina from Attica, the appellation being Attica, Greece.  Produced by the Kourtaki winery, the style of wine is a Retsina and the grape variety is Savatiano, one of the most widely planted white grape varieties in Greece.  Retsina, as a white or rosé is made traditionally with resin chips in the *must during fermentation.  This unique secret ingredient is an homage to the style of wine produced when it was necessary to store the wine in amphorae; which is a type of container used throughout the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Middle Ages, that was sealed with resin consequently affecting the flavor.  This resin affect became a characteristic the wine was known for.  Although resinated wine is produced in other parts of the world, the name Retsina is a PDO recognized by the European Union indicating it’s origin from Greece or some parts of southern Cyprus.  The Savatiano grape variety is grown in Attica, Central Greece, Cyclades, Western Crete, Macedonia and the Peloponnese.  Although known for Retsina, Savatiano is also produced as a wine without resin and is commonly blended with Assyrtiko and Roditis.  Savatiano wines are known for being easy and fruity with good acidity.  For a great summer wine and a great food wine, Greece is the perfect place to take your palate on a vacation.

*the word must in wine terminology refers to the juice that undergoes fermentation and everything in the tank with it that adds to a wines character which can include: seeds, skins, and possibly stems in a soupy pulpy mass of grape juice.
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Enjoy!

xo, Margot

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