The first time I ever got drunk I was fifteen. I was on spring break with my mother and sister and we were sitting on the dock of the bay in Athens Greece. There was quite an interesting assemblage of people sitting around the table put together by my mother – actors, writers, artists, including one rather attractive 20 year old Australian male who told me I looked like Alice in Wonderland. (We found out later he was a pornographic author.)
The beverage of choice, the only beverage offered, was retsina, a wine that people often compare to turpentine. Originally it got its special aroma and flavor from being stored in barrels sealed with pine resin. Now, I am told, it is stored in steel barrels and flavored with resin, in a process similar to steeping tea. The modern version is not so intense. But back then, I thought the extremely dry and flinty retsina was the perfect complement to the olive oil saturated food. I was going to like everything about that day anyway, but I have always has a special fondness for retsina.
So you can imagine my surprise when I attended a Greek wine tasting set up by my women’s culinary group at the North Square restaurant here in New York City and found the wines to be quite elegant and complex. We tasted a sparkling wine (organic), two whites, two reds and a dessert wine. I liked them all. And even better they were affordable. I have put the names and prices below. They are all available at Astor Place wines.
But I learned something else that evening. At my table was Marilyn Krieger who now works at Winebow. Many years ago she had taken Kevin Zraly’s legendary wine class at Windows on the World. She showed the rest of us at the table a simple way to augment the aroma of a wine. First you swirl it in the glass, then you put your hand over the top to capture the vapor and finally you remove your hand, stick your nose in and take a whiff. You get a much better sense of the aroma than by just swirling and sniffing.
Spiropoulos Ode Panos NV, $20
Argyros Atlantis White 2011, $16
Domaine Mercouri Foloi 2011, $16
Gai’a Notios Red 2010, $17
Thymiopoulos Young Vines 2010, $15
Samos Vin Doux 2010, $18