Retsina is among the best wine from Greece and it has been made for around 2000 years.
The wine has a flavour that is unique and is thought to have come from practices of sealing wine vessels, in particular amphorae with Aleppo Pine resin, during ancient times.Before the invention of impermeable glass bottles oxygen would cause some of the best
wine to spoil, within a year. It was pine resin that helped to keep air out of the wine, and it helped to infuse the wine with the aroma of the resin. Romans began to use barrels in the 3rd century and this removed the need for resin, however the flavour by this time was so popular that it continued to be used and is widespread, even today.
The earliest record of resin being used with wine dates back to the first century when Roman writer Columella detailed his work. The resin could be used to seal a container and be mixed into wine. He said however that the very best
wines should not have resin used in them due to them adding unpleasant flavours. There are many anecdotes regarding the evolution of Retsina which come from the Roman conquest of Greece. Some say that it was the Romans who plundered wines of Greece which angered the citizens who then started using pine resin to deter the conquerors and extend their storage of the wine. It was said that the Romans did not like the harsh flavour and refused to drink it. Another story says that drinking an excess of Retsina that was undiluted was lethal for King Eric I of Denmark and Sigurd I of Norway.In Greece there is a local luxury
Retsina that is produced all over the country. Some of the major production centres include Attica, Boeotia and Euboea. The European Union treats Retina like a protected designation of origin and a traditional appellation for Greece along with parts of some of the regions of Cyprus. There is also an Australian wine made in the South that is called resinated wine but this is not Retsina. One of the most traditional and best
of grapes used in Retsina is Savatiano although often Assyrtiko and Rhoditis are sometimes blended into the wine in Greece, along with other varieties of grapes. Today Retsina is made in the same way that white or rose wine is made with the exception of the very small pieces of Aleppo Pine resin which is added during the fermentation of the wine. These then elute an oily resin like film which is mixed with the must and at racking the wine is clarified and solids and film removed.