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The Wine Laws of Greece

Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Wine Laws

In today's winemaking world, all sorts of regions have rules. In fact, the wine region in my apartment has a rule that no bottle of wine can be left unopened or unconsumed. Greece, obviously following my lead, is no exception. When it comes to wine laws, theirs are set in stone - or at least bronze.

In 1971, the wine laws of Greece were administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, an organization that governs agricultural growth. This only lasted for ten years when Greece laws molded with the policies of the European Economic Community. These policies worked together to define what grapes can be planted, what winemaking processes can be used, how wines can be labeled, and what wine regions exist (e.g., the mouth is a wine region, the floor is not).

In Greece, the laws are divided into three sections. All sorts of varieties, in all sorts of qualities exist in each section.

Appellation of Origins: Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality and Controlled Appellation of Origin are used as virtual grape birth certificates, allowing wine drinkers to know that the wine they are drinking does indeed come from the area stated. With as many as twenty eight wines under Appellation of Origins in Greece, these laws apply to both dry and sweet wines.

A sub-law of the Appellation of Origins exists to define wines that are reserve and grand reserve. White wines with reserve status must be two years old, spending at least six months aged in barrels. Grand reserve whites must be three years old, with twelve months of barrel time. Red wines with reserve status must be three years old, spending at least six months aged in barrels. Grand reserve reds must be no less than four years old (though some insecure grapes lie about their age), with twelve months spent in barrels.

Epitrapezios Oenos: The Epitrapezios Oenos do not have appellation laws enforced; they are, instead, a melting pot of the wine industry, often made up of grapes from several different regions. These wines are very similar to the table wines in other countries.

Under the Epitrapezios Oenos law, the best wines are labeled Cava, and often aged much longer than wines of lesser quality. White wines with the Cava label must be aged for two years, with six months of barrel aging. Red wines with the Cava label must be aged for three years, with either one year in old barrels or six months in new ones.

Topikos Oenos: Like the Epitrapezios Oenos, wines under Topikos Oenos are not dictated by appellation laws. These wines, with cowboy hats and a penchant for lassos, are similar to country wines. Made with a lot of different grapes - both grapes grown in Greece and grapes grown in other nations- these wines are blended in variety. Sometimes labeled with the words archondiko, kitma, or Monastiri, the Greeks typically refer to any wine of this category simply by T.O.

The wine laws of Greece aren't something you- as a visitor- need to worry about breaking: breaching one won't cause you to find yourself imprisoned, a vine handcuffing your hands behind your back. Instead, the wine laws are used to help visitors understand the wines they are drinking and understand the only crime is in not drinking them.