This will be my coffee table the morning after the steeplechase. What the hell is going on with that race? You have trained your whole life and your parents took out a second mortgage on their home so you can jump over puddles?
This year has been… rough. Politics. Violence. Lots of ALL CAPS Facebook posts. It’s a tense time in the world and in our nation. I would like to think that the kick off of the Olympics this evening will do something to unify us as a country again. If watching a shirtless Ryan Lochte attempt to speak English to Bob Costas doesn’t bring us some solidarity, what will?? But, the Olympics could quite possibly be a shit show as Brazil’s own government issues sound like a Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion right about now. How do we ease the anxiety that comes with watching an American preteen precariously back flip on a balance beam while also bracing for a mosquito coup on live television? DRINK!
And what better way to celebrate humanity’s greatest tie to ancient civilization than with some of its most OG juice? Greece had been cultivating and drinking wine LONG before the first Olympic games were held in 776 B.C. It is said that every European grape, from Merlot to Riesling, originates from the wild vines of Greece. Greece is basically the Janice Dickinson of modern wine: they did it first and they won’t stop reminding you about it.
Greek wines have been a great value the last decade, due in part to both a lack of knowledge as well as a severely crippled economy. Like how you can often score nice laptops on Craigslist from irresponsible college kids who need to pay rent in two days. And although interest, and price, is slowly growing, there are still some fantastic values when it comes to indigenous varietals.
Retsina is some serious old school business. Like, thirteenth century B.C. old school. Soooo vintage. Since there was nothing in the way of air tight containers back then, Greek winemakers would add pine resin to stop oxidation during the fermentation process. Not only did it work, it imparted a pungent pine flavor. And while it can be overwhelming to a tourist, its long been a staple of Greek dining as it is an excellent match to the briney and salty foods of Mediterranean cuisine. This particular white wine controls the amount of Aleppo pine introduced to the cirtusy Roditis must, leaving a bright, honeysuckle wine with more subdued eucalyptus and mint notes. Not your ya-ya’s wine! This refreshing take on a somewhat outdated standard is kind of like when hipsters have bar carts or I eat Vienna sausages with an oyster fork.
Xinomavro, or Xynomarvo if you were in a frat, is the most important red grape of northern Greece. Growing in the high altitude vineyards of Naousa in the northeastern part of the country, the grape has to deal with winds and cooler weather, resulting in both high tannins and acidity. While not techincally related, Xinomarvo is kind of like a cousin of Nebbiolo in structure and climate. Like when Uncle Jesse had a Greek criminal cousin that was just John Stamos in a bad suit on split screen. Anyway, like Nebbiolo, this wine is complex, age-worthy, and specifically great with fatty meats and meals utilizing soy sauce. This specific wine is from the southernmost vineyards of the appellation at the lower end of elevations, resulting in a full bodied yet red fruit forward and balanced wine that is a little more French Gamay than Barolo. A good way to ease into a often times tricky varietal. At 7-10 years old, these vines are truly young, further evidenced by the fact they are bio-dynamic, organic, and totally on fleek. YOLO.
Two Greek wines that are different, but completely accessible and affordable and will help you almost forget that America is currently a dumpster fire. If booze and Olympics aren’t enough, remember Netflix, and therefore your childhood, is always a short click away…
That bag, tho…