CULTURE

Maria Netsika’s savvy guide to pleasures of Greece’s wines

«I magine traveling to Greek vineyards. Driving among the vines; visiting wineries and chatting to the makers of your favorite wines; stopping to enjoy your favorite foods at the countless restaurants and tavernas that are hidden in the Greek countryside or waiting for you beside the sea.» With these enticing thoughts Maria Netsika begins her latest book, «The Wines of Greece: A Journey in Enjoyment,» just published in Greek by Ianos. «The biggest question,» she writes, «is which wine to taste next.» Netsika, a chemist, oenologist and wine writer, packages information about Greek wines as a journey. Introducing each winegrowing region, she offers an illuminating snippet of history, a brief description of the soil, climate, and the grape varieties grown in the area, and concludes with a list of local wineries. The trip starts in Thrace, at Maroneia, whose wines, which go back to the Bronze Age, star in a memorable episode in the Odyssey. Wily Odysseus saves his companions by making the Cyclops drunk on the ambrosial wine given him by Maron, the priest of Apollo, for having protected him and his family. Maron’s name lives on in the placename of Maroneia but the vineyards fell into decline, being uprooted in the mid-20th century because they were no longer profitable. It was not until the 1990s that Evangelos Tsantalis, founder of the famous winery of the same name, revitalized the vineyards in cooperation with local winemakers. Netsika is a well-informed guide on this journey from Thrace to Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, Crete and the Ionian Islands. Appended are sections on legislation covering Greek wines and their names, a glossary of winetasting terms, an index of wineries, photographs of wineries and an index. All you need to know to set out on that journey in enjoyment is presented in a compact guide that fits easily into a pocket.