When the vine had been first brought by Dionysus from the Red Sea into Greece most men perversely turned to unmeasured enjoyment of it, and drank it unmixed. Some, in their insane perversity, became delirious while others became like corpses they were so drunk. But a few weeks later, when some of the men were drinking at the seashore, a rain-storm fell upon them and broke up the party, but it also filled up the large bowl they were drinking from, which still had a little of Dionysus' potent wine left in it. After the weather cleared they returned to the same place, and tasting the mixture of wine and water they found it as enjoyable as the former but a lot less painful. When the unmixed wine is poured during the dinner the Greeks call upon the name of the good divinity, doing honor to the divinity who discovered the wine; he was Dionysus. But with the first cup of mixed wine given after the dinner they call upon Zeus the Savior, because they assume that he, as the originator of rainstorms, was the creator of the painless mixture derived from the mixing of wine and rain.

Unless otherwise specified, wine refers to the naturally fermented juice of grapes. More broadly, the term can include alcoholic beverages created from other fruits and even vegetables. Wine has a rich history that has evolved along with that of humankind. Its historical roots reach back almost 12,000 years. As various cultures spread out into new parts of the world, so did the grapevine and the art of winemaking. Wine is broadly classified in the following categories:

  • still (nonsparkling) wines including red, white and rosé which can be dry (nonsweet), semisweet and sweet
  • sparkling wines, including champagnes as well as effervescent wines
  • fortified wines such as sherry and port, which have been made with a dose of brandy or other spirit
  • aromatic wines, such as vermouth which have been flavored with ingredients like herbs or spices.

Vintage wine is that which is made with 95% of the grapes harvested in a specific year; the year or "vintage" is indicated on the wine label. Nonvintage wine is made from the juice of grapes harvested over several years; there's no year noted on the label of such wine. Blush wines are made with red grapes, but the juice has had a very brief contact with the grape skins, which produces pale pink wines. Wine storage locations should be dark, vibration free and at an even temperature. The ideal temperature is 55°F, however, anywhere from 45° to 70°F is acceptable, providing the temperature is consistent. The higher the temperature, the faster a wine will age. Wine bottles should be stored on their sides to prevent the cork from drying and shrinking, which would allow air to enter the bottle and disrupt the wine's flavor. White wine should be served at a range of between 50° and 55°F; red wine at around 65°F. Chilling white wine for more than 2 hours before serving can dull its flavor and aroma.

Retsina - Made for more than 3,000 years, this traditional Greek wine has been resinated treated with pine-tree resin (originally done to help preserve the wine). The resin gives the wine a distinctively sappy, turpentine-like flavor that, according to most non-Greeks, is quite an acquired taste. Retsinas are either white or rose and should be served very cold. Unless one has grown up drinking it then it is doubtful they will appreciate the flavor of this wine.

Spiced or Mulled Wines - Spiced wines are red or white wines that have been heated with various citrus fruits and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice or nutmeg. Spiced wine is generally sweetened with sugar and often fortified with a spirit, usually brandy. Some recipes call for stirring the hot wine mixture into beaten eggs, which adds flavor and body to the beverage.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License