Does your idea of the perfect holidays in Santorini have the island’s iconic wine in the scenario? Santorini wine is indeed a point of pride and plays a huge role in the local culture, traditions, and economy and is well-worth deep-diving into. Read on to learn how the uniqueness of Santorini’s landscape and long-honored wine heritage make the very best wine varieties that you shouldn’t miss out on during your holidays.
Learn what makes Santorini wine so special
The reputation of excellence is well-deserved for Santorini wine. One of the best things to do in Santorini is to get acquainted with the wine culture and how it came to be such a global standout. Thanks to a distinct landscape, way of cultivating grapes, and an expert dedication to wine, there’s much more to the wine scene than meets the eye.
2. Unearth the unique volcanic soil
More than anything else, Santorini’s one-of-a-kind soil is the catalyst for excellent wines. Dating back to when the Santorini volcano had its catastrophic eruption in 1600 BC, the island’s landscape completely transformed. Thousands of tons of volcanic lava settled into the earth and created a mixture of basalt, sand, and pumice stone, which acts as an elixir for grape growth.
Today, a variety of grapes that are indigenous to the island grow exceptionally well in Santorini’s soil. And, in fact, the white pumice stone that is embedded in the ground acts as a somewhat magical tool since it reflects the intense Santorini sun and acts as a sponge to absorb much-needed water. In all, the soil makes Santorini wine robust, multi-layered and features distinct characteristics.
2. See the ancient kouloura system in action
The harsh and almost uninhabitable climate in Santorini’s desert landscape means that farmers and harvesters have had to develop unique ways to keep their products alive and thriving. The ancient kouloura technique does just that. Meaning “weave” or “basket,” the kouloura shapes the grapevines in a protective and cocooning basket and is found only in Santorini.
The kouloura technique has been passed down from the generations for thousands of years and has been perfected. It protects the grapes from the harsh sunlight and fierce Aegean winds.
During a Santorini sightseeing trip to wine country, keep your eye out for such techniques, which can be seen throughout every vineyard on the island.
3. Experience expertise & dedication at Santorini wineries
In proportion to the size of the island, Santorini is the only place on the whole planet with so many wineries. In fact, there are over 20 wineries on the small island, all of which highlight the dedication, hard work, and labor of love that goes into cultivating some of the world’s best wines. Employing lifelong harvesters, expert sommeliers, and a team that takes you on a journey of the senses, visiting wineries is one of the best things to do in Santorini.
Scattered throughout the island, the wineries of Santorini embody many personalities and characteristics. From traditional wineries in cozy cave houses to sleek and modern buildings that showcase the latest techniques and trends, every Santorini winery is special in its own way. Take tours through vineyards, sample the wines, learn how to pair them with food, and talk to experts who love their job and wish to share history and information about Santorini wine.
Sample the very best Santorini wine varieties
Santorini is well-known for its indigenous grape varieties, which thrive under the island’s peculiar conditions and harsh climate. As a result, wine varieties in Santorini are unlike any other in the world. From white to red and from tangy to sweet, sampling the lot should be a must during your holidays in Santorini, Greece.
1. Sweet Santorini Vinsanto wine
For a sweet treat during wine-centered holidays, Santorini Vinsanto is a must. This world-famous dessert wine is naturally red in color but actually comes from a white grape variety that is left out in the intense Santorini sun for upwards of 8 days. This process gives the grapes a sweet and concentrated flavor profile that grows stronger through the oak barreling process.
Santorini Vinsanto is unique because it is one of the only sweet wines in the world that does not have any added sugar to it. Its flavor profile is noted as having hints of fig, raisins, and honey. It pairs excellently with decadent chocolates, tangy cheeses, and treats sprinkled with warm spices and nutty textures.
2. Citrusy Santorini Assyrtiko wine
The most popular wine variety in Santorini is undoubtedly the ultra-refreshing white Assyrtiko. Made from a variety of white grapes that grow throughout the island, it can be found on restaurant menus that are both high-end and taverna-style, meaning it is highly versatile.
Assyrtiko is often compared to having a similar taste profile of a Sauvignon Blanc because it is citrusy, acidic, smooth, and intense. Though it can sometimes be sweet, it is mainly regarded for its dryness which pairs well with fresh fish and acidic dishes such as anything tomato-based.
3. Earthy Santorini Mandilaria wine
Even though white grape varieties are what comes to mind most often when people think of Santorini, it would be a shame not to mention the fantastic red varieties as well. Berthed from the black-skinned grape, this medium body is delicious without being overpowering. Mandilaria is well-balanced and aged to perfection in oak barrels for up to 12 months before being enjoyed.
It is a wine that is regarded mainly for its earthy taste. Taste notes include cherry, vanilla, and a hint of strawberry marmalade. It is recommended to be enjoyed alongside hearty dishes that can stand up to its flavors, including cheeses high in fat, prosciutto, roast beef, and lobster pasta.
Find memorable things to do in Santorini for stellar holidays
Learn why Santorini is one of the most beloved destinations in the world thanks to its bevy of activities, tours, and things to do that are sure to keep you entertained. Whether you’re sampling Santorini wine in the countryside or lounging by the beach, you’re sure to fall in love with the island.
Curious to learn the Santorini Travel Guide’s must-know tips on the island?
If you’re ready to dive into all the fantastic things to see, do and experience in Santorini, we’ve got you covered. Check out our endless ideas for unforgettable holidays with our tailored blogs, including:
- Megaro Gyzi Museum: dive into the island’s best arts & cultures scene at the renowned Santorini museum
- Catholic Church in Santorini: discover the history, significance & every must-visit Catholic Church in Santorini, Greece
- Museum of Prehistoric Thira: unearth historic artifacts & find new additions to the upgraded Santorini museum