You have a piece of stone in the middle of the Aegean sea. Hot, barren, dry and windswept. And you can imagine that there is no way that this stone can give birth to any kind of life. And then you try the wine that its vineyards produce. And it’s probably the most aromatic wine you have ever tasted. Well, if that isn’t a miracle, then what is?

SantoriniWhen we refer to the wine of Santorini, we are mainly talking about the white wine, which is based on a blend of local varieties Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani. Of these, Assyrtiko is the most well-known variety because it has a special aromatic and taste interest, but also great a capability for aging.

A lot of you may have already visited the Greek island Santorini and, if so, you have probably tasted its delicious alcoholic juice while enjoying the view of the deep blue of the sea from the high volcanic caldera. I know I might be asking too much, but those of you who are planning to spend your summer vacation in Santorini, try only for a second not to remember the amazing view or the typical Aegean architecture and focus on discovering which is the main ‘green’ element of the island? Yes, you are right, it is its vineyards! Which in some places are organised and cultivated systematically, while in others they exist in a ‘wild’ state and are found even in the most unlikely places.

Santorini is undoubtedly Greece’s top destination for wine tourism

In proportion to the size of the island, Santorini is the only place on the whole planet with so many wineries. It is undoubtedly Greece’s top destination for wine tourism. Across an area of only 76.19 km2, there are more than 18 wineries.

Santorini vineyard

Santorini grapes grow close to ground and weave into circles (credit: seligmanwaite)

Since when?

Viticulture has been part of the tradition but also of the daily life of Santorini for centuries – according to official sources, for 3,500 years! Naturally, the cultivation of vineyards in Santorini has inevitably adapted to the difficult – essentially adverse – climatic conditions that characterise the island, and especially to the relentless summer heat and the constant, strong winds. Thus, growers traditionally weave the branches of the vineyards in Santorini into ‘rolls’ like nests, with the fruits growing on this inside, protected from the wind, and with a rich ‘cap’ of leaves on top for extra protection from the heat of the sun.

How does it taste in sommelier words?

A typical white wine bearing the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini is characterised by a distinctive fruity character, framed by rocky and metallic aromas, reminiscent of the special volcanic soil of Santorini. A key feature of such a wine is its high acidity, which makes it very refreshing, but also enables it to evolve over time. Indeed, the incomparable way in which Santorini’s wine ages, while maintaining its sparkle and vitality, never stops impressing professional and amateur wine lovers, both in Greece and abroad.

You can enjoy it with or without food

Santorini seafoodAt the table, the white wine of Santorini is paired well with quite greasy food, to take advantage of its intense acidity. It is ideal to accompany raw, fried or grilled seafood or fish, such as mussels, squid and shrimps, as it will highlight their delicate flavours.

So, when you visit Santorini, in addition to the romantic walks and the frantic fun, take some time to also walk in one of its many vineyards, enjoy its amazing gastronomy and try its famous wines.

SantoriniVirtual travel is the new black

But because of the coronavirus flight restrictions, you don’t have to wait until you find yourself in this beautiful Cycladic island. Just go to the nearest wine shop, grab a bottle of white dry Santorini wine and enjoy it on a spring Dutch evening. Close your eyes while smelling the wine in your glass and let it take you on the white roofs of Oia, watching the sun go down in the Aegean blue sea.

Christina Kambanella