In the history of man there have been civilizations that have been based on viticulture and wine trade, while even today many people believe that wine means civilization. In prehistoric times, in places where the climate favored wine-growing, a civilization was “born” and vice versa: the flowering and prosperity of a civilization was associated with vine and wine. This is no coincidence: the cultivation of vines presupposes a permanent residence, not a nomadic life, and it takes place on infertile soils, leaving the fertile ones for cereals and other crops. The production of wine requires technical knowledge and specialized practices, while its trade requires transport means, knowledge of transactions, economy, shipping, etc. The Greek civilization was one of the wine ones, the most famous and long lasting.
The ancient Greeks considered wine a gift of nature and made it a work of art. Greek wine and civilization kept their worth over the centuries and marked history. Even in the Byzantine era, when Christianity – to which the Greeks converted- initially fought against the ancient Greek civilization, with the passing of the years two were the main ideas that were preserved and spread: the Greek language and the enormous Greek wine-growing heritage. The byzantine civilization and the Orthodox Christian art, which over time was identified with Greece, are full of symbolism and references to vines and wine. They can be found in mosaics, religious paintings and monastery manuscripts, in folk art and poetry. The famous Byzantine wines of the Aegean Sea and of other Greek regions were the best ambassadors of a civilization that for centuries, – in the Dark Middle Ages- enlightened the West.
However, the Greek wine and civilization did not only benefit Greece. The various conquerors of Greece, in manners sometimes hostile and sometimes friendly, along with the Greek civilization, used the opportunity or took advantage of the famous Greek wines, winning reputation and money and developing their own civilization. The Roman civilization, apart from Dionysos (as Bacchus), appropriated several of the advanced wine-growing techniques along with the famous wines produced by Greek vineyards. The Venetians and other European sea merchants, already in the medieval times, had Greek wines as their main income, while the Ottoman Empire benefited and boosted both the taxation of the famous Greek wine production and also the coexistence with the Greek Christians, who have never lost their “gene” wine instinct.
There are many nations in the world, where vines and wine were or are closely associated with their everyday life. The wine in the everyday life of Greece is an ancient tradition. In fact, it is lost in the mists of time. The relationship between the vineyard, then and now cultivated almost all over Greece – and of course the wine produced and consumed over time-, is long-lasting. Both the vine products and the wine are basic cultural, social and nutritional goods of the Greek people.
Wine, in everyday life of the Greeks, from prehistoric times till today – as a nutritional supplement, as a religious good or as a simple delight – has been an integral part of the collective Greek memory and tends to become part of the Greek DNA.
Greek wine and civilization are inextricably linked concepts. Greek wine and civilization, in today’s Greece, continue to be one thing. In the same lands, the descendants of ancient Greek wine-growers and winemakers cultivate their vines to give the whole world the fruit of the Greek sun through their new wine culture. Thus, modern Greek wines are products of a nation for which the history of vine and wine is the history of its civilization!
Wine as food
For thousands of years, wine in Greece, being a food pillar has acted as a catalyst.
Wine and religion
The importance of wine, which poets praised and kings glorified, is present in ancient Greece through the festivities of Dionysos worship.
Wine on the daily table
Wine on the daily table of the Greeks was and remains one of the everlasting goods.