I keep a spreadsheet of the wines in my house. From a time management standpoint it is not particularly effective. But from a 'choosing the wine for tonight' standpoint, I kind of love it. I like to filter by varietal. I like to sort by drinking window. I like to sum up how many wines I have from a given country. I apparently like to be a geek. Sometimes however I get a little sad at the lack of diversity in grape varietals that most wine producing regions are producing. The great grapes of France seem to dominate my list whether I am searching Old World or New World. I love cabernets and pinots and appreciate the distinct differences that different terrors and philosophies bring to my collection, but to have 100 wines and only 10 different varietals can be a bit disappointing.
So I find that there are a few countries who are doing great things with distinct, native, and rare varietals - and I get excited. Greece in particular has had a place recently on my list, and while pronunciation and spelling becomes an issue, diversity becomes a catalyst for exploration. These Greek wines were not only all delicious, they were also different, distinct, and compelling. They were affordable and food friendly, and brought smiles and surprises to those who shared the dinner table. When looking for Greek wines, here are a few varietal suggestions:
Moschofilero - melons and flowers seem to dominate here, for my nose, and a sense of honey through the palate keeps the ultimately dry wine frisky. The wine is so clearly not cut from the same cloth as our typical chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, it is a white wine alternative that will enliven your lighter fare.
Xinomarvo - Now this grape can get me all geeked up. A lighter bodied red with a tendency to have a decent dose of acidity, this is not pinot noir - but can certainly be used for meals in which your natural inclination is to open a pinot noir. Suede, cedar, and fresh raspberry highlighted the examples I have had, and as a bonus - this grape can take a bit of age and become rather velvety.
Assyrtiko - Another alternative to your everyday whites this grape, when grown in the right soil, mixes a rather intense minerality with its fresh orchard fruits. Again, you will not mistake this for the more pedestrian varietals, and it is well worth a try for those of you who make white wine exploration a part of your regular consumption (which, by the way, should be ALL of you.)
Feel free to butcher the pronunciation, it is unlikely your wine store clerk will have the confidence to correct you. Feel free to check out my wine reviews linked in the header for specific bottles to seek out. Then let Greek wine continue to expand your horizons. Diversity is the key to continued pleasure when trying to master the un-master-able pursuit of wine!