Friday, November 29, 2013
The ancient Greeks imported their wine from Syria in amphorae (huge clay vases) which were beautifully decorated -- you can see them in museums all over the world -- but not particularly air-tight. This resulted in the spoilage of a large proportion of the cargo and, in order to counteract this, the shippers took to sealing the amphorae with pine tar. Admittedly, this left behind a tarry taste, but better a somehat peculiar tasting wine than none at all. When, in the fourth century A.D., the Romans took to shipping wine in wooden barrels, enough people had become accustomed to the pine tar flavor so that in a few places, notably in Greece, it was added to the barrels directly. If you've not tasted Retsina before I can almost guarantee that you won't like it. If anything can be so desribed it's an acquired taste, best enjoyed of a late summer evening in a seaside caffee, watching the fishing fleet go out to sea from one of the Dodecanese islands. This wine falls somewhere in the middle price range ($9.99) although, in my humble opinion, only a Greek can tell a good Retsina from a mediocre one.