Tasting Retsina, the Greek traditional wine

Anyone who has traveled to Greece will have encountered Retsina, in some form or other. You might have just seen it mentioned on a menu in a traditional taverna, and thought it was a particular brand of Greek wine, or maybe you’ve had the chance to try some yourself.

Either way, Retsina is one of Greece’s most iconic drinks. The techniques and traditions of making Retsina go back over 2,000 years, and it is a huge part of Greece’s food and drink culture.

So if you are heading to Europe on vacation this year and want to experience the best cruise to Greece possible, this is your ultimate guide to discovering the joys of Greek Retsina.

What is Retsina?

Retsina is a Greek wine, usually white or rose. It is found across the Greek mainland and on every island, in tavernas, bars, cafes, and restaurants. It is a ‘resinated’ wine (hence the name) which means that it is stored in jars sealed with pine resin, which gives it its distinctive flavor. This is an ancient tradition, a method designed to prevent oxygen from spoiling the wine during storage and transport.

The taste

Retsina has a unique flavor, quite mild, neither bitter nor sweet. It is, nevertheless, an acquired taste, with some experts describing it as sappy, even medicinal. However, it is considered by plenty of others to be one of the best, most authentic Mediterranean wines, particularly when served cold and combined with the fresh flavors of traditional Greek cuisine.

Where can you find the best Retsina?

Santorini is one of the quintessential Retsina spots, as well as a gorgeous destination in its own right. Many wine connoisseurs believe that even the normal wines made on Santorini carry a slight resinous flavor, due to the vaporous air and volcanic terroir of the island. There are some wonderfully atmospheric spots on Santorini to try Retsina, like the tavernas that cling precariously to the cliffs at Fira.

There are a number of great Retsina brands that are available across Greece, like Malamatina, Amelicious, and Kechribari. But the best way to try Retsina for the first time is directly from the vineyard. You can try Retsina on the slopes of Kithairon in Boeotia at the Gikas vineyards, or experiment with orange Retsina from Kechris.

However you choose to explore Greece’s traditional drink, you are guaranteed a transcendent experience. Yamas!

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.