Wine – Drinking Greek History
by Maria Athanasopoulou
In ancient Greece, wine was considered as a very important product. Its position within the daily diet of the Greeks was significant. Apart from its good taste and the pleasure it brought to the palate of the people, it was important that the wine was considered the medium that made better the mood of the people and also it made easier for people to communicate with each other.
But the ancient Greeks hated abusing the pleasure that wine brought. So, they drank the wine with water, in order to have its beneficial effect but in the same time avoiding the unpleasant effects of intoxication.
The god Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of viticulture, wine and joy of life. The fact that the ancient Greeks had a god specifically for wine shows exactly how important it was to them.
At the famous ancient Greek Symposia (where the ancient Greeks gathered together, sharing wine and food and discussing with each other), they relied precisely on providing plenty of wine, but with water, so that all who participated could be happy but not drunk. The word Symposium means “I drink with others”. In other words, ancient Greeks considered wine as important as food.
The great ancient Greek poet Homer, in his epics, references wine often. These references have passed down to us today a lot of useful information about wine in ancient Greece. For example, we learn that many parts of ancient Greece were famous for their very good wine.
In the Iliad, Homer describes the shield of the great Greek hero Achilles and informs us that it was decorated with a vineyard scene.
There were many areas known in ancient times for the very good wines they produced, such as Chios, Pallini, Samos, Lesvos, Corinth, Methoni of Messinia etc.
The quality of the wines of ancient Greece was so good, that many of them were even marketed and sold abroad. Even in ancient times, the Greek product was of high enough quality to export.
It would be a great omission, however, not to mention the great importance of wine in relation to the religion of the ancient Greeks, who used to offer wine in prayers to their ancient gods.
According to experts, the earliest discovery of wine in Greece was from the Bronze Age. This is evidenced by the analysis of findings in wine storage jars (amphora), discovered in Myrtos, a proto-Minoan settlement of the 3rd millennium BC, on the south coast of Crete.
Thousands of years have passed since then, but wine remains a very important product for Greeks. Their relationship with wine continues to this day. Its production has been refined and today Greece is renowned worldwide for its excellent wines. But, for anyone to enjoy a Greek wine, the best way is to try it there for yourself. Only in this way will you understand all the richness of its taste. It’s like drinking a mouthful of history.
Maria Athanasopoulou is the chairwoman of the World Food Travel Association (WFTA), a Certified Ambassador of the Association in Greece and holds a Master Culinary Travel Professional degree. She is also the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On Demand.