The resinous wine (Rezine = resin) is probably one of the most famous wines of Greece, which was already produced in ancient Hellas. Due to the hot climate the Greeks were confronted with the problem of shelf life. Therefore, the amphorae were sealed with pine resin or a resin-oil layer was applied to the surface of the wine. It was wrongly assumed that the better durability achieved exclusively by sealing was due to the resin. From this, the wine characteristic of the Greek drinking culture developed, and the method of resin is still used today.
Along with the Verdea from the Ionian island of Zakynthos, this is one of the two wines that have been awarded the special OKP label (protected of origin and with traditional pressing method). Retsina wines are produced in white, rosé and red versions. The most common form is the white retsina, which is mostly pressed from the Savatiano grape variety and, in small quantities, from the Roditis variety or, on Samos, also from Moscato Aspro(Muscat Blanc). The rosé wine known as Kokkineli is made from a blend of Savatiano and Mandilaria grapes, while the rare red version is produced exclusively from the Mandilaria variety.
Resin from the Aleppo pine is added to all versions during fermentation, up to a maximum of one kilogram per hectolitre. The resin does not remain in the wine, however, but is precipitated again during fining and filtration. It gives the retsina a very typical tone with a fresh, bitter taste that stimulates the appetite. Retsina is produced in almost all Greek wine-growing regions; its share in Greek wine production is about 10%. However, the classic production area is Attica in central Greece. These wines are allowed to bear a seal of quality if they are made of pure Savatiano grapes. The wine, which contains around 11.5% alcohol by volume, should always be drunk very young, at best in the first or second year. Good quality can be determined by the colour (as light as possible and not already golden yellow) and the smell (resinous smell not too strong). Strictly speaking, retsina is actually not a type of wine, but rather flavoured wine like wormwood. It is also not declared as quality wine (POP or OPAP). Leading producers are the wineries Malamatina (with 60% market share in Greece) and Kourtakis.