I had the great pleasure of organising a tasting event of Greek wines for 30+ students and their professors in central Athens. The unusual thing was that the students were from the University of Missouri in the U.S. who were visiting Greece for a 4-week summer program. The aim of the program is to immerse them in the literary life of contemporary Greece. Even more unusual was the way the Faculty Program Director, Scott Cairns, Professor of English, knew about me – he contacted me after reading one of my guest articles that I write for Snooth.com. In today’s world, visibility does count!
After hearing about his idea to introduce his students to the world of Greek wines, I immediately agreed. The University arranged for a budget, and I purchased 6 cases of different wines. I thought it would be best to stick with indigenous Greek grape varieties, as they do offer uniqueness. On Thursday evening we met at Athens Centre, which really is a small oasis in the heart of Athens. The evening was very warm and we were sitting outside in the gorgeous patio.
The students were all really good fun and nearly all of them named wine as their favourite alcoholic drink. Some already had solid theoretical knowledge, and those who did not were not shy to ask questions. I loved the engagement and enthusiasm of the students and professors, a combination that ensured a very successful event. For two hours we tasted the wines and there was so much to talk about that I could have easily spent another couple of hours with them. Maybe it is in the nature of students, but they took in all the info like dry sponges that come in contact with water. The professors were busy taking many notes :)
We started out with four white wines, first a Malagousia (Tetramythos, Peloponnese), which has aromas of ripe peaches and pears. Next we tried a Moschofilero (Tselepos, Peloponnese), the cooler climate in Mantinia makes this wine so special. A Robola (Gentilini, Cephalonia) was next in line, a more serious wine that mirrors its terroir. The last white was an Assyrtiko (Gaia, Santorini), a very complex and bone-dry wine. As for the reds, the unoaked Agiorgitiko (Mitravellas, Peleponnese) pleased everyone. We finished the evening with a Xinomavro (Karyda, Naoussa); the wine stunned the crowd.
I asked the participants what their favourite wine of the night was – there was no winner nor loser, every single wine received 5 to 6 votes. That in itself speaks volumes, there was something to please every palate.
I am simply delighted that this fantastic group will go back home to the U.S. with a very positive image of Greek wines on their mind – they promised me to spread the word. If only I could arrange events like this for the millions of tourists that visit Greece every year… Unfortunately there first encounter with Greek wines will likely be some jug of plain housewine in a taverna.
Thank you “students”, you are a great bunch of people, and I am sure your professors are proud of you! I had lots of fun with you – do enjoy your next 3 weeks at the island of Serifos ;)