Quick Recipes and Easy

Retsina – a Wine to Enjoy?

You are sitting in a restaurant in the US, or round a dinner table in England. It’s cloudy and blowy outside. You are waiting for your wine. The waiter, or your host, brings you a bottle of retsina. It’s simple to guess what your reaction would be. You would be horrified! And if you were tasting it for the first time, you would no doubt pull a face.

Retsina – from Greece – certainly doesn’t taste like any other wine. And its distinctive taste has made it the subject of jokes – and worse.

Some people complain of its “turpentine-y” taste. The reason for this lies in its history. The original makers needed to preserve and ship wines in pine-pitch sealed vessels. To prevent the wine from spoiling, the wines were often adulterated with all sorts of ingredients as preservatives. Retsina had pine oils or pine resin added to it. (The name Retsina really comes from “resin”.)

Whatever you do, don’t take your first taste of retsina at home, or in a situation where you might expect a more sophisticated wine. Try it where it belongs – in Greece!

· You need to be in the Greek sunshine and absorbing the Greek atmosphere. To many, the best place of all to be introduced to retsina is the island of Santorini. One of the most romantic and gorgeous of all Greek islands, Santorini is a fantastic place for retsina. The retsina there has a particularly resinous flavor – this could be due to the volcanic soil. Find one of the spectacular tavernas by the sea or on the cliffs, and sit and sip your retsina, preferably at sunset. You will find it is the perfect accompaniment to help you delight in the mind-blowing scenery.
· Don’t serve it chilled. Chilling intensifies the resinous flavor and stops you appreciating the other fruity flavors – which it DOES have!
· Serve it in a tumbler as the Greeks do, not in a wine glass. The inward curving rim of the wine glass will prevent you enjoying the right flavor.
· Drink it with food, not on its own. It goes superbly with meze, the appetizers served at the beginning of the meal. But it’s the perfect accompaniment for all types of Mediterranean cuisine, especially those with herbal or aromatic flavors.

Yes, retsina is an bought taste. But try it in the environment where it belongs, and it won’t take you long to buy it!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Vintage Wine Associates, a small company for those who like wine and everything to do with it. For information about all aspects of wine and a selection of unique and original wine gifts, come and join us at myvintagewine.com myvintagewine.com

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