Written / Financial Times –
Athenian wine bars are uncorking stellar bottles from local vineyards to match island-hopping delicacies. The Greeks know a thing or two about wine – as they should: they’ve been making it for the past 6,500 years. Until quite recently, though, visitors to Greece might have questioned the evolution of a culture that offered a choice – in tavernas, at least – of insipid, mass-market plonk or floor cleaner-scented retsina. It came as a pleasant surprise, then, to stumble across a clutch of excellent wine bars in Athens, all nestled between Monastiraki, Syntagma and Pláka – districts better known for tin jugs of house white than carefully stored and poured vintages. Greece’s economic woes are well known, but the wine industry has – despite obstacles at every turn – bucked the trend. Patriotically, these bars also offer Greek cheeses and charcuterie to nibble with your tipple. You might find yourself island-hopping without leaving your seat. Assyrtiko is perhaps the best-known Greek white, but Robola deserves equal renown. It is similarly dry and bracing: I tried the Vino di Sasso, made by Sklavos in Cephalonia, at Heteroclito, a wine bar as bright and bubbly as its Blink Brut from Macedonia.