Embrace Greeks Bearing Gifts

A great value at $10-12 a bottle, I was pleasantly surprised by the velvety, cherry taste.

Two weeks ago, longtime Lowell resident George Zaharoolis presented me with a bottle of Greek red wine. “I want you to try this,” he said. “Tell me what you think.”

Zaharoolis, who co-hosts a Friday radio show on WCAP, knew that I had started writing this blog and wanted my opinion. “George”, I told him, “there is a reason my blog is called Wine Novice. I am not an expert but an explorer.” He urged me to explore Greece, beginning with the wine he insisted I taste. On Tuesday night, I sat down with my wife and sampled the wine, “My Big Fat Greek Wine” from the Peloponnese region of Greece. In two words, “Holy Olympus!” The light-to-medium body ruby red liquid was superbly satisfying. I found it slightly aromatic, with subtle cherry and pleasant berry fruit tones. I detected a mineral presence too, which is often the case with Old World wines.The first sip confirmed a Pinot Noir-like mouthfeel and texture, and a wonderful cherry fruit taste. I swirled the liquid on my tongue and it became drier and velvety, without any overboard heat. It went down smooth and had a nice finish. It wasn’t long, but it certainly inspired another sip. The second taste, in fact, was better than the first. Several news tastes emerged, beyond cherry, and I wish I could articulate it. I’ll have to try a second bottle. I learned the varietal grape is Agiorgitiko, a thin red grape that is grown in a classic Mediterranean climate: lots of sun but cooled by ocean breezes and tempered by rugged mountain ranges in the Pelopennesean peninusula. This wine was well worth the $10-12 it costs. I actually thought it was more expensive. The wine complemented our meat lasagna (light sauce) and feta cheese salad exquisitely.

My Big Fat Greek Wine is a takeoff on the hit movie and musical of a similar name (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and the marketing brainchild of Nikolas Mastorogiannakis, the founder of Hellas Import Ltd. He’s introducing the world, and America, to unique grape varietals from Greece that have been around for centuries but received little attention off the island nation. In addition to the red wine, MBFGW labels also produce two  whites, the indigenous Savatino as well as Chardonnay. Wine Enthusiast rated the 2010 Savatino with 89 points. It sells for $10.

This weekend marks Greek Independence Day in Lowell and there will be a host of celebrations including the raising of the Greek flag at City Hall on Saturday morning. I wish all my Greek friends the best. I urge all wine explorers to pick up a bottle of My Big Fat Greek Wine and toast all the contributions of the ancient Greeks and their present-day American counterparts who have given so much to Lowell, Massachusetts and the nation. If you are at the Athenian Corner in downtown Lowell, you can sample a glass or purchase a bottle of MBFGW off the menu. The wine is also starting to hit the shelves of local wine shops, and is also featured in the Boston area. This is one Greek gift you don’t want to pass up!

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