If you’ve heard anything about Greek wine, you’ve likely heard about Retsina. It’s totally unique to Greece, it has a history that stretches back literally thousands of years, and it is divisive.
Besides being total Retsina devotees, we happen to think that all of these things only serve to make it a super cool wine. It’s fresh and crisp, like lime peels, and apples, and just a breath of…evergreen. Yeah, evergreen. The thing that defines Retsina, that makes it divisive, and gives it a little notoriety is that it’s fermented with fresh pine resin.
Way back in the days of Pliny the Elder, it was pretty hard to stop up your wine cask and keep the wine inside from spoiling. So some very ingenious Greeks started sealing their casks with resin from the local Aleppo pine trees. Eventually, casks were able to be sealed without resin but the practice, um, stuck. From there, fresh resin was added to the grape must during fermentation, some say as a way to hide poor-quality wines.
Perhaps this was true: Retsina largely fell out of favor during the late 20th century, even in Greece. It’s safe to say it gained a bit of ill repute. But some winemakers stuck to their roots and dedicated themselves to giving Retsina its due regard with careful and practiced viticulture and a delicate hand with the resin.
The Retsina we pour is from Kourtaki, a producer that has devoted itself to making fine Retsina since 1895, and it’s a great introduction. Tangy and bright, it drinks exceptionally well with herbal food, like our oregano-dusted Greek Salad and the dill-infused Spanakopita.
It’s not for everyone - but that’s the price you pay for being one-of-a-kind.
- Natalie Singer