A Local’s Guide to Santorini Wine

A Local’s Guide to Santorini Wine

The mythical Greek island of Santorini is justifiably renowned for its authentic wine culture. The local wine varieties are featured on the top of the wine lists in every gourmet restaurant around the globe. Are you curious to learn how the famous Santorini wine gets its distinct unique flavor? Read on to discover the many secrets of the famous Santorini wine.

Santorini is a true delight to the eye with its wild pristine nature, traditional architecture, and distinctive crescent shape that was formed by the biggest volcanic explosion in recent millennia. 

The devastating eruption completely destroyed the prehistoric settlements; however, it still had one major positive impact on the island. Once the ashes had cleared new inhabitants arrived at the shores of Santorini. Phoenician sailors carried grape seeds and cuttings to replant the land yet they were in for a surprise. Grapevines had no issue growing on the rocky land. 

The rich volcanic soil contains high amount of silica oxides and other nutritious minerals that give Santorini wine its signature taste. What you get is a fresh, slightly acidic flavor with a touch of salinity. 

The volcanic island has seen many rulers throughout its history but all of them agreed on one thing: the superior quality of the Santorini wine. Even the Ottoman Turks who captured the region in the 16th century continued to cultivate wine even though their religion forbade such practices.

It’s not just the flavor that is so unique about Santorini wine but also the way it’s produced. Santorini vinedressers use a special technique to protect their grapes from the scorching summer heat and the rough wind. They take the grapevines and curl them up into the shape of a large wreath-like basket. The unusual practice is called kouloura which means round in Greek. 

Today, more than 40 different grape varieties are growing on the island. The most famous Santorini wine is the white Assyrtiko which has noticeable minerality. Vinsanto, the popular dessert wine, is also made of the indigenous Assyrtiko grapes. The local whites come with a refreshingly dry crispy aroma that resembles tropical citrus fruits.

For those who prefer red, the earthy tannic Mandilaria and the full-bodied spicy Mavrotagano are a must-try. Both two varieties have strong fruity elements. Reds are often aged in oak and, hence, they have a more robust flavor. 

Are you wondering what Greek specialties go with each local wine? The right food matches to Assyrtiko are the traditional haloumi cheese or some freshly caught oysters. Red wine is typically paired with spicy lamb meatballs or eggplant stuffed with minced beef.

If you want to make the most of your Greek vacation, you should visit the legendary Santorini wineries and the traditional wine-tasting cellars. Although wineries are dotted all around the island, you will find the most authentic Santorini wine cellars around the tiny village of Pyrgos. You can learn about the winemaking processes during guided tours which will take you through endless vineyards and centuries-old barrel rooms. Savor the area’s gourmet culture while watching the mesmerizing vistas of the Santorini caldera!  

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