Greek Wines: How Do You Sell a Mouthful Like ‘Agiorgitiko?’ – Businessweek

The words Xinomavro [Ksee no’ ma vro] and Agiorgitiko [Ah yor yee’ ti ko] —grapes commonly used to make Greek wine—are intimidating enough to trip up most English-speakers before they get to the end of this sentence. Not that “Sauvignon Blanc” or “Montepulciano” roll trippingly off the tongue, but U.S. wine drinkers have been practicing pronouncing the names of those French and Italian varietals for several decades.

While Greece has been making wine for 4,000 years by some accounts—and even celebrates a god of wine, Dionysus—its bottles have yet to gain recognition in the international market.

“The biggest obstacle isn’t the quality of wine; it’s the names,” says Jennifer O’Flanagan, a spokesperson for All About Greek Wine, a consulting company that specializes in Greek wine and spirits, at the New York Wine Expo.

The show, which was held at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from March 2-4, welcomed business owners and consumers to try and to buy the latest from winemakers.

The expo presented 130 wineries representing 12 countries to about 4,000 attendees, says show director Ed Hurley. Eleven wineries from Greece participated in the event, pouring samples from bottles that retail for about $15 to $25. Additional Greek varieties that could tie tongues, especially after a glass or two, included: Moschofilero [Mos ko fee’ le ro], Malagousia [Mah lah gou zya’], and Assyrtiko [A seer’ tee ko]; click here for pronunciations.

via Greek Wines: How Do You Sell a Mouthful Like ‘Agiorgitiko?’ – Businessweek.

Strange Random Greece Quote:

“Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts / And eloquence.” – John Milton (English Poet, Historian and Scholar. 1608-1674)

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Posted on March 7, 2012, in Article and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m not impressed… if this were truly a problem, they’d Anglicize the names – for example, the wine from the Greek village of Monemvasia, called Malvasia in Greek, has been called “Malmsey” in English forever. Moschato -> muscat.

    • I agree. I think there’s an element of apathy and perhaps even some snobbishness on the part of both the distributors and the public in general.

      That is, why try something new when a) it probably won’t be as good as what we know already and b) it’s got “a funny name”? Admittedly, this never stopped a generation of English wine drinkers from murdering the names of German varieties, but things have changed since then and there are a lot more wines on the market from more countries than there were, say, 20 years ago.

      Perhaps a middle ground solution would be best. Anglicise only the most complicated names and avoid at all costs the My Big Fat Greek Wine label 🙂

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