Sri Panwa Phuket - Thailand
Anyone who has traveled to Greece or even eaten at a Greek restaurant in the United States may have received well-meaning advice from wine-loving friends: Don’t drink the retsina.
On the face of it, the warning makes sense. 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 Greeks have favored retsina since the earliest days of ancient winemaking, when they used pine resin to line and seal terracotta amphoras. Even after wooden barrels replaced amphoras as the preferred storage vessels, the Greeks retained their taste for retsina.
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.
Nowadays, mass-market retsina, sold in clear 500-milliliter bottles with crown caps, is usually the cheapest wine available in Greece. Often, in cities like Athens, it is mixed with soft drinks and consumed (primarily to catch a buzz) by those on student budgets. These are the retsinas we have been warned about.