THE WINES OF GREECE: A WAY OF LIFE by STELLIOS BOUTARIS, KIR-YIANNI

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There is no product that encompasses the Greek way of life better than Greek wine! Greek wine is the one and only product that transcends time, linking the Greece of antiquity to that of today, somehow representing everything that modern Greek society is, as well as what it once was. What’s more, Greek wine is the best Ambassador of Greece in the world!

Wine is an agricultural product, yet it has the ability to land on every table with a story to tell. Agriculture is still one of the main pillars of the Greek economy. Whether it is fresh produce, such as tomatoes or kiwi, or artisanal items, Greek products are probably some of the best in the world. Although this has been the case for many years, only recently have farmers and producers truly understood the value of their goods. Over the last few years, with the help of the Greek government and EU funds, there has been a proliferation of high-quality branded foods that have given Greece a new image in the world.

Wine has been in the forefront of this “revolution,” and many other sectors are following the path that Greek wine has blazed. There are more than 200,000 farmers cultivating grapes and working closely with wineries that are always aiming to increase the quality of the products offered. This has been a major change in the rural economy; young people are staying close to their roots and cultivating the land where they were born, instead of emigrating to Athens and other cities to make a living. The social impact of this development is significant and, once fully realised, will change Greek society. A Greek farmer who used to sell grapes at cost to the local cooperative is now producing a branded product, capturing added value that was once lost, and adding to the chain of the local economy. This success also builds self-confidence among our people, an attribute so much needed for any society to thrive.

The uniqueness of Greek wine, however, based on local varieties and on places, plays an important role in more than just the structure of society. Greek wine is the only product that mirrors the Greek way of life. We Greeks don’t drink wine as an alternative to beer or spirits. Greek wine is consumed with friends, around a table and always with food. Greek wine  always has a name on the label that tells a story of the place it was born, the style in which it was made and the people who crafted it. Greek wine is the one and only product that is present in all aspects of the easy, friendly, relaxed and simple way of life we Greeks like to enjoy, and that so many people from around the world experience once they visit Greece.

In recent years, Greek wine has travelled around the world, “preaching” the Greek way of life. The establishment of modern Greek restaurants everywhere and the proliferation of people looking for Greek wines have allowed Greek wine to find a place in both cozy and serious restaurants, and in wine shops all over the world. The positioning of Greek wine as a specialty, hard-to-find, almost exotic, sommelier-sweetheart item has further augmented the reputation of Greek wine. As a result, the image of Greek wine-making, and of Greece as a country in general, has been improved. Today, Greece and Greek products are going through a modern renaissance; the quality and the image of both have improved dramatically in the last few years. Greek wine is at the forefront of this development, serving as Greece’s best ambassador abroad!

Next time you go out for a meal, ask for a Greek wine from the islands or from the mainland, and you, too, will be part of this great experience! g

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