by Markus Stolz

call for change

byMarkus Stolz
August 9, 2010, 9 Comments

The wine sales of tavernas in Greece are still massively dominated by bulk wine. It is an intrinsic part of the Greek culture to consume wine with food, and people here are accustomed to “wash down” their meals with a glass of jug wine. The problem is of course that the 16 million tourists who visit Greece every year will receive the same exposure, which leads to the impression that the quality of the wines leaves much to be desired. I had written an open letter to the Greek wineries last year addressing the issue; please take a moment to read it here.

While spending some time last week with my family in Laconia, Peloponnese, I was intrigued by a taverna that offered high quality bottled wines from one of my favourite producers in Laconia, Vatistas. The holiday season lasts from June until the end of September, and I asked the owner of the taverna how many bottles he sells during this time. He replied that they sell about 100 bottles during the holiday season, roughly one bottle per day. As for open house wine, they sell about 1200 litres during the same time, about 10 litres per day. The bottled wine was 11 € per bottle, a litre house wine priced at 5 €.

I asked what grape varietals the white house wine consisted of (I was not able to identify this, and believe it was a blend). The answer was accompanied by a shrug with the shoulders: “It’s white, we also have rosé and red.” Tavernas outside of Greece continue a similar tradition – they do not have access to open house wine, but fill this void by offering mostly cheap bottled wine that is mass-produced and often dull.

I renew my call upon the Greek wineries to seriously consider an additional alternative by introducing more solid quality bag in box wines and promote those to the tavernas. Imagine the tourists would be able to taste a few different varietals by the glass at competitive prices… There is enough talent in this country to ensure that the quality would be much improved in comparison to the current offering.

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  1. Viviane Bauquet Farre / Food & StyleAugust 9, 2010, 6:59 pm

    Markus, I admire your persistent efforts to make high quality wines available to everyone in Greece. Ten years from now, you will see the impact you’ve had… I’ll drink a great bottle of Greek wine to that!

  2. elloinosAugust 9, 2010, 10:53 pm

    Viviane, I have to be persistant and explore every possible angle to enhance the image of Greek wines. Not because of my own business, but because the wines deserve this. Change is brought by taken action – I am well aware that change also needs time, and thankfully I have patience in this regard. Thank you for your wonderful encouragement, it really does mean a lot!

  3. Ανδρέας ΓάβρηςAugust 10, 2010, 4:21 pm

    The bulk wine is the misery of greek wine, and cheap retsina too.
    And the worst is that we train the turists to drink worst quality wines namely vinegars.
    what a shame!

  4. Friedrich BolleAugust 15, 2010, 4:30 pm

    Vinegar and headache was my souvenir from Greece :-)

  5. NeaAugust 15, 2010, 4:57 pm

    Thanks for the update on Greece. There is also a good site for news in Greece called nea which offers realtime news about Greece. However it’s only in Greece but it’s good to use Google translate with it to get the latest news.

  6. Paul DSeptember 3, 2010, 2:37 pm

    Having just returned from Crete I was encouraged to see an increase in the quality of the bottled wines on offer at one or two tavernas. However, in my humble opinion, I suspect some people (tourists) may well be put of by some of the hideously high prices listed.

    ps managed to track down some of the Assyrtiko mentioned above, it certainly is a bargain.

  7. elloinosSeptember 3, 2010, 2:42 pm

    Paul, glad to hear you enjoyed Crete. You are quite correct, unfortunately tavernas quite often list bottled wines at crazy prices. Interestingly enough, I went to a Chinese restaurant a few days ago, they had a good list of Greek wines and marked all their prices down by up to 25%! Certainly a sign of the current harsh economic conditions.