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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 25

Tales from Crete | 25

Could you imagine going into a Danish restaurant, ordering some delicious food and when the waiter asks what you want to drink with the meal, answer: "I would like Harpiks". The waiter would probably look like a big question mark. But it is nevertheless what you are asking for if you go to a Greek restaurant and order Retsina with your food. Here, however, the waiter will not in any way look like a question mark, but may even ask you what brand or type you want.

The name Retsina comes from the Greek word for resin: ρετίνη (ritíni) and Retsina is a protected trademark for the characteristic resin-flavored wine that can only be produced in Greece. So even though there might be some individual Danish wine producers who could be induced to start production of Retsina, it is strictly illegal and something the Greeks cherish very much.

In ancient Greece, resin from the pine tree was used to seal the amphorae and clay jars used to store the wine. It is also believed that the resin helped preserve the wine so that it could be kept young and fruity in taste. Later, when wine began to be stored in barrels and large wooden casks, there was no longer a need to seal these casks and barrels, so in order to preserve the characteristic taste, resin began to be added to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how intense a resin flavor you would want.

There are countless Retsinas, but they are all made in the same way and are basically just a fruity light white wine with a resinous taste. Like so many other things, it tastes best in the right surroundings, i.e. in Greece, but I think it is gaining more and more traction in Denmark too, because there are actually more Danes than you might think, who are very happy with the distinctive taste.

Personally, I have never been a big fan of Retsina, but just as it is said about olives that you often have to taste a few times before you learn to appreciate the olive taste, it is my experience that you also have to taste Retsina a few times before you take it to heart. In this connection, it pays well to start with the Retsinas, which are not so distinctive in taste, but are both fruity, pleasantly rounded and have the young, fresh taste of the grapes as the mainstay. It could, for example, be the Retsina of Pnevmatikakis in Crete or the Ritinis of Gaia.

When you move up a bit in the league and want the completely authentic Retsina, it is undoubtedly Malamatina that is both the most well-known and in demand. In fact, to such an extent that drinking Malamatina has become almost cult-like. If you get Malamatina in a restaurant, it is not uncommon for the waiter to discreetly place the capsule on the table, as proof that you belong to those who drink real Retsina. 

Good weekend!

See our range of Retsina here.

Tales from Crete | Elena's - The taste of Greece

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