Many moons ago when I was regularly tasting with wine reps, I mentioned to one of them that I was looking for “scary good juice.” When I sat down to taste, he had already placed about a dozen Greek wines before me, (thank you George!) none of which I could easily pronounce. I slid my glass closer…
Afterward, I got to thinking about fear. Not the pseudo-scary horror film kind, mind you, but that simple fear of not knowing what’s in a bottle, how to pronounce said contents and exactly what to expect. We make important decisions on a daily basis, but many folks are apprehensive regarding what they don’t know, especially when it comes to not identifying liquids. Wine should never be scary! Perhaps the take-away is the mere fact that there is a commonality inherent in the unknown: people. Behind that cool bottle of unpronounceable juice are interesting folks making wine they love to drink themselves and for others to enjoy as well.
What else I find incredibly cool regarding Greek wine is the indigenous varieties. There are more than 300 native varieties grown on varying types of some of the rockiest soils on earth, but what these vines produce is nothing short of liquid magic.
At the time, I contacted Markus Stolz, one of the most influential wine journalists today regarding the Greek wine industry. I think the biggest obstacle for exploring the odyssey that is Greek wine is pronunciation. I asked Markus for some tips and he was kind enough to provide a video of grape pronunciation with his kids—brilliant!
This past February I attended the USBevX Conference in Washington D.C. and I had the distinct pleasure of receiving a Facebook PM from none other than Cathy Huyghe. Cathy and I have been nurturing an online friendship for several years now so when one is invited out for dinner and drinks, you say yes.
But then Cathy created a distinct wrinkle for me: we would be joined by Steve Raye, Bevology President and CEO and Dr. Damien Wilson, Chair of Wine Business Education / SSU. I must admit I almost bowed out only because I was nervous about with whom I'd be dining - these folks are like wine industry royalty! But then the practical gal in me kicked in and said "fuck it, you gotta eat." Needless to say I had a blast and sipped on some tasty Greek wine while we dined at José Andrés new D.C. digs Zaytinya. (Big thank you to Crystal Schaad for coming along!)
Break out of the familiar and explore the unpronounceable, the provocative, and some of the most palate-friendly wines on the market today, no matter from what part of the world. And be sure to share those wines with dinner mates and friends - you'll be glad you did.