Retsina Renaissance lauded in New York Times report

Retsina has a long history as a traditional Greek wine many have disdained and tried to avoid, but as the New York Times’ Eric Asimov reported in his article “Great Retsina, an Oxymoron No More,” it is time for wine enthusiasts to give restina another try.

Asimov writes, “The flavor of retsina, a wine infused with the resin of Aleppo pine trees, has often been likened to turpentine, even by people who like the stuff. Most modern retsinas are made with poor, thin wine. A potent addition of resin masks the dullness of the base with a sharp, bracing pungency.”

The pine resin in wine goes back to ancient times when Greek winemakers “used pine resin to line and seal terracotta amphoras,” Asimov reported, adding that “even after wooden barrels replaced amphoras as the preferred storage vessels, the Greeks retained their taste for retsina.”

He continued, “A hundred years ago, when Greece was still largely agricultural, farming communities would drink retsina made from the local white wine. Taverns and families might tap the local pines for their own supply of fresh resin.”

Mass-market retsina today is often the cheapest wine, mixed with Coca-Cola for a buzz college students can afford, the Times reported.

Some producers are now making retsina more “thoughtfully and carefully, from grapes grown conscientiously,” the Times reported, adding that “it can be a delicious wine that goes beautifully not only with a wide variety of Greek foods, but with many other assertive cuisines as well.”

“The producers who have embraced retsina are not trying to transform it into a profound wine, a collectible or a bottle worth aging to show its complexities,” Asimov writes, noting that “instead, they want to turn retsina into a cultural tradition of which modern Greeks can be proud.”

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