Athens’ New Wine Club

Global gastronomy specialists Culinary Backstreets sees Greece’s great wine potential and sets up the first ever club for aficionados of great local produce.

In the post-war years, whiskey was the cool drink to sip in Greece; today it’s all about perfectly mixed cocktails, trendy locally brewed craft beer and wine. Greek wine. Amazing, world-recognized, multi-varied Greek wine from all over the country, rising up like a phoenix from the ashes of antiquity.

A great deal of it produced by vineyards that are hundreds of years old, a few using grape varieties that have remained since millennia ago, often by families who are devout to honouring their oenological history. Wine bars have sprung up around the capital and sommeliers nationwide are honing in on sophisticated knowledge about local wines to offer excellent suggestions for tastings and pairings. Numerous websites present everything there is to discover – and keep learning – about Greece’s exciting wine production and grapes, with travel stories, interviews – and great sales.

Creating a New Wine-Lover’s Rendezvous

Insights Greece - Athens’ New Wine Club

Enter Culinary Backstreets, a well-established gastronomy website (with print publications to match) that showcases global cuisines through expert reviews of restaurants and food and drink produce across markets. This September, Culinary Backstreets launched its Athens Wine Club, organized by one of its regular contributors Carolina Doriti, and following successful examples of such clubs in other cities such as Lisbon and Tbilisi. The club is set to meet once or twice a month, each time showcasing a different independent winery and tasting venue.

As a wine aficionado I quickly booked myself a space at the gathering, which took place at Ta Karamlidika Tou Fani restaurant on Ermou St and presented the wines of Brintziki Estate. The winery produces 13 wines, of which we sampled four. This was accompanied by a platter of delicious bites by the restaurant, which is known for its Asia Minor roots and optimal variety of cheeses, cold cuts like pastrami, pastourmas and salami as well as main dishes. Each meeting will be based on this very concept – of combining the wines of an independent winemaker with foods from a local eatery in a Covid-safe environment. ‘’As always, Culinary Backstreets celebrates lesser known people in the foodways. Likewise, for the Wine Club, we are focusing on smaller, and/or independent winemakers. It was a pleasure to have a female winemaker at our first gathering,’’ Doriti says.

Tasting Brintziki Estate’s Best

Tinaktorogos, the first Brintziki Estate wine we sampled, is made from a grape that roots back to Homeric times and is only produced in Olympia by the Brintziki Estate vineyards. The wine is white, but when looked at carefully in the light, reveals a few flashes of green which is thought to resemble the colour of the sea. We also sampled the Avgoustiatis rose and the cherry red Avgoustatis reserve. Almost as fascinating as drinking a wine that existed in ancient Greece was trying Esperos, the estate’s ‘Orange Wine’ which is made from an ancient variety of the Assyrtiko grape and produced using completely natural winemaking methods, without any preservatives being added. A truly unique wine that Brintziki was inspired to make after visiting several raw food and wine festivals in the world.

Creating Connections Sip By Sip

The tasting experience was exciting enough. Add to that the tasty bites, great conversation with the winemaker and participants and the feeling of discovering new things about Greece, and there was a winning combination. ‘’ The goal is quite simple: these days, more than ever, it is important to keep the human connection strong to what we eat and drink,’’ Doriti says.

“The Athens Wine Club is all about building that human connection in a safe way. From meeting to meeting, that connection will strengthen between the guests who join and the winemakers we celebrate, and through those connections, knowledge will be shared. And of course, the goal is to drink a lot of good wine!’”