Greek traditional drinks to suit all tastes
An alcoholic beverage or a soft drink? Chilled or at room temperature? The choice is not an easy one when there are so many options!
A tasting experience in Greece usually includes a glass of wine. Here are some tips for you: try the famous white Retsina – a resinated wine produced mostly in Attica, Evia and Voiotia; Moschato Limnou – a PDO varietal white produced on Limnos Island; PDO Robola from Kefalonia (Ionian Islands); PDO Zitsa wine (dry or sparkling) made from debina, a white grape variety cultivated in Zitsa (Ioannina, Epirus); Vilana, an indigenous Cretan grape variety which is used to make fine white wines such as PDO Peza and PDO Siteia; PDO Mantineia, a white produced in Arcadia, Peloponnese. If you’re a fan of red and rosé wines, try the ones produced in Nemea from agiorgitiko, a local variety cultivated in Argolida and Korinthia, NE Peloponnese, the largest Greek PDO wine zone; in NW Peloponnese, savour Mavrodaphne of Patras (a sweet vin de liqueur). In Macedonia, taste reds from Epanomi, Thessaloniki (mavrotragano, limnio, mavroudi local varieties), PDO Goumenissa from Kilkis, PDO Amyntaio, Florina, PDO Naoussa, Imathia and PDO Rapsani (xinomavro, negoska, stavroto varieties).
If you’re into stronger spirits, enjoy a glass of chilled ouzo (from Plomari, Lesvos Island and from Tyrnavos, Thessaly). On Crete Island, taste tsikoudia (also called raki), the standard treat offered either with food or after the meal. An equally strong alternative is tsipouro, anise-flavoured or not and a great place to taste it is Volos town, Thessaly.
Thrill your palate with traditional flavourful liqueurs, made with local fruits & spices, such as mastic liqueur (Chios Island), citron liqueur (Naxos Island), kumquat liqueur (Corfu Island), rozoli (an orange and cinnamon liqueur made on Lefkada island, tentoura (containing fruits & spices) prepared in Patras, W. Peloponnese and cornelian cherry liqueur, well loved in Macedonia.
If you’re a beer fan, here’s a list of special flavours for you to try: Volkan is a lava rock filtered beer brewed on Santorini Island; Septem is produced in a microbrewery on Evia Island; Vergina is a craft beer produced in Komotini town, Rodopi, Thrace; and Solo beer is a Cretan craft brew produced in Kallithea, Heraklion.
Last but not least, make a point of tasting the following refreshing beverages, fizzy or still, especially if you’re an alcohol-free person: soumada (a drink made with sweet and bitter almonds, water, and sugar) prepared on Lefkada and Crete Islands; tzitzibira, an effervescent beverage made on Corfu Island with ginger root, lemon juice, water and sugar; kanelada, a fragrant cinnamon and clove spiced drink, much preferred on Crete and Kos Islands, and across the country vyssinada, a sour cherry refreshment, mandarin soda, lemonade and orangeade.