Remember the days when you
considered 'Domestica White or Red a good Greek wine? Or, in a
desire to 'fit in', one suffered through a dose of Retsina!!
Greek wines have soared to great
heights in the the last 25 years and I am sure they will not fall
again as did the sorry Icaraus. Over 300 varieties of grape can now
be found in Greece, many resurrected as they had vanished.
Unfortunately the majority production volume is consumed
domestically and within the EU. Only small quantities make it to far
flung corners of the globe!
Our glasses were raised in
Papagianakou Winery, conveniently located outside Athens, but
close to Athens airport. There is a hotel nearby and no, the airport
noise is not a problem. Perhaps an alternative airport stop before a
Italian Wine Regions
wine is one of the most difficult regions to get to know. Why? Well
for one, the Italians use an esoteric wine labelling system, like
the French. But that’s not even the biggest problem. The hardest
part is learning all the different grape varieties.
At the moment, there are about 350 official Italian wine varieties.
There have been rumours that over 2,000 different Italian grapes
exist, but this might be a bit of an exaggeration– something
Italians do well.
Click here to access wine region map.
brimming with wine festivals throughout August – but these delicious
nibbles can be enjoyed at any time of year. Find out how Natasha
Singh sees things!!
If you like a good tipple, August is the time to visit Germany. Take
your pick from the Stuttgart Wine Village (a huge celebration which
sees the city centre transformed into a wine village), the Wine
Festival of Aachen (a charming grape juice-glugging Roman spa town),
and the Reisling Festival (three glorious days completely dedicated
In Germany, wine is to be taken very seriously. That’s probably
because, like German cars, most German wine is a seriously
high-quality product. And of course, any German worth his weight in
bratwurst will be able to tell you the difference between a Spätlese
and a Riesling.
But savvy swiggers beware: you should only eat certain things with
certain kinds of wine. You don't want to be gobbling a sickly sweet
strudel with your eiswein – causing the barman to stare at you in
horror as you wash down your dessert with pricey speciality wine. So
here's the low-down on German bar snacks, paired with the choicest
German wines for a real Deutsches dinner...
1. Zwiebelkuchen (pronounced tsvee-bell-koo-hen) literally
translates to ‘onion cake’. Like a quiche or tart, this savoury dish
is made from sour cream, fried onion and bacon in a pastry case.
Rich and filling, zwiebelkuchen is best served with a light
beverage, like Federweißer. It's made from pressed grape juice
that's bottled halfway through the fermentation process. As a
result, it continues to ferment in the bottle, which has a permeable
lid that allows the gas to escape. It tends to be produced during
harvest-time, late August or early September according to the
2. Raclette, a Swiss-born dish adopted as Germany's own,
traditionally involves a large hunk of cheese held near an open
fire. The melted cheese is then scraped off onto a plate – the name
comes from the French racler meaning 'to scrape' – and eaten with
bread, dried meats and pickled vegetables. More commonly, however,
raclette involves a table-top grill, which you can use to cook
strips of vegetables or meat, with pans loaded with melted cheesy
You can buy cheese specifically for raclette at any German
supermarket – and get a bottle of good-quality dry white to go with
it – preferably a Riesling, a German favourite. Local understanding
dictates that beer or even tea should be drunk with this particular
dish – but don't drink water, as it causes the cheese to become a
hard ball in your stomach, impairing digestion.
3. Handkäse mit Musik ('hand-cheese with music') is a strong
yellowish cheese well-known in Frankfurt, traditionally served with
chopped onion, caraway seeds, and well-buttered bread. Its odd name
originates from the fact that it is first shaped by hand;
post-consumption it produces a large amount of intestinal gas, thus
lending the musical accompaniment.
The pungent cheese is typically served with Frankfurt's famous
Apfelwein or 'apple-wine', an alcoholic beverage that more closely
resembles cider than wine, but a refreshing accompaniment
nonetheless. A festival in celebration of the beverage takes place
in August, for hard-core fans.
4. Weinbeißer are small elongated ellipses formed from gingerbread
and encased in a thin smooth frosting shell. Available throughout
the year but more typically associated with Christmas, these
fragrant biscuits are usually paired with an earthy Spätburgunder
(the German version of Pinot Noir) for a high-class version of tea
and biscuits - as Weinbeißer are usually dipped briefly into the
wine before eating.
5. Eiswein (ice wine) is prized by wine aficionados around the
globe. It's usually served as a 'dish' on its own, though it's
occasionally paired with a fruit-based dessert or sorbet (as long as
the dish isn't sweeter than the wine itself).
Produced by a laborious process of waiting past harvest-time through
winter (the temperature must drop to at least -7°C before the grapes
can be picked), the fruit must actually freeze on the vine. It is
then picked in the early hours of morning and pressed while still
frozen. This results in a naturally sweet wine unaffected by
bortrytis – the 'noble rot' typical of standard dessert wines – but
gives eiswein its refreshing sweetness. Definitely something to
reserve for a special occasion – not least because it tends to be
6. Bratwurst sausage is served with a strong mustard and a heap of
the notorious sauerkraut (sour pickled cabbage). Flavourful and
mildly spicy, this dish fits perfectly with a glass of
Gewürztraminer, a slightly-sweet wine which is lesser-known than its
famous German rivals, yet delicious nonetheless. Its floral notes
and fruity bouquet make it a perfect partner of the sharp mustard,
which is why it is often drunk with Asian-style dishes