x0x Wines in Turkey
* Anatolia, in addition to being the cradle of ancient civilizations
is also the birthplace of viticulture
ANKARA- Turkish Daily News
"Wish I were a fish in a bottle" says Orhan Veli Kanik, the popular
Turkish poet who is famous for his love of two things; Istanbul and
Veli and his verses frequently spring to mind when the subject is
Anatolia, in addition to being the cradle of ancient civilizations is
also the birthplace of viticulture.
According to legend, the dizzying and relaxing effect of wine was
first discovered when Noah's goat ate wild grapes on the slopes of Mt.
Agri (Ararat) and got tipsy.
This was considered to be some sort of magic.
Since then the inhabitants of Anatolia have always enjoyed wining and
It is believed that wine was first taken to Europe from the Aegean
coast of Anatolia.
A grape loving society
Turkey holds fifth place in the world in terms of wine production. The
soil and climatic conditions are favorable for cultivating grapes and
each region has its own distinct flavor characteristics.
There are about 1,000 different kinds of wine grapes in Turkey,
including domestic and foreign varieties.
Turkish wines from Pinot Noir, Carignane, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet,
Cabarnet, Sauvignon, Semillion, Clairette, Riesling and Sylvaner
cultivars are highly regarded by connoisseurs.
However, EU countries seem to prefer Turkish wines made from local
grape varieties with a regional flavor.
Favorites are Papazkarasi (kara meaning "black"), Kalecikkarasi,
Adakarasi, Hasandede, Narince, Emir and Buzbag.
The current trade has its origins in the 19th century when European
vineyards were destroyed by disease and the Ottoman Empire supplied
wine to European countries.
Most quality wines bear the name of the grape variety on the label.
Wines from the Marmara region, Thrace and central Anatolia are
considered to be the best Turkish varieties.
Thrace is the region most renowned for the special flavor of its
It is accepted that Turkish wines owe their special flavor to the
natural characteristics of the soil in which the vines are planted.
Vineyard owners try to avoid using synthetic fertilizers as much as
possible in order to preserve the natural flavor of the fruit.
A great number of quality table wines are marketed under different
brand names. Wines produced by the Turkish state monopoly (Tekel) have
been awarded prizes at international wine fairs.
Grape products as appetizers
Turkish people have always considered grapes and raisins to be a
valuable source of energy.
Sultanas (dried grapes), sira (fresh grape juice), pekmez (molasses)
and pestil (pressed dried grape paste) are widely consumed in rural
areas and are favorites of gourmets as well. They are available in
speciality shops where appetizers such as dried fruits and nuts are
A Brief History of Viticulture
The cultivation of grapes and the practice of wine making in Anatolia
dates back to 4000 B.C.
What is believed to be the first vineyard was found by archaeologists
excavating at the foot of the Mt. Agri (Ararat).
Evidence of the fermentation process was found in large jars
discovered at the site. Similar evidence was also found in the
vicinity of Ankara which was controlled by the Hittite civilization in
2000 B.C. These are the signs of the first wines to be produced in the
The grape-shaped wine cups and gold wine goblets and other objects
found in the Hittite royal tombs in Alacahuyuk between Corum and
Yozgat in central Anatolia prove that wine making was fairly developed
at that time.
Indeed, it is said that the word "wine" originated from the Hittite
word "wee-an" or "weanas" meaning wine.
Countless sealed amphorae which have been found in the sea contain
traces of wine which over the centuries has turned into powder. These
are displayed in the Bodrum Museum (Halicarnassus).
Scenes of grape harvests with musicians playing flutes are depicted on
rock reliefs and paintings unearthed at various archaeological sites.
There are also scenes of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus, showing him
with a flute in hand, an indication that he was the patron of music
What Turkish Wines Say About Themselves
Products of sunshine
Yakut, Cankaya and Lal wines produced by the Kavaklidere winery of
Ankara are called "products of sunshine" and carry the slogan: "Let us
introduce you to `the wine'. "
The 70-year-old winery also introduced wines and sparkling wines to
the market for more selective customers.
On the other hand, the famous Doluca wines carry the unique and
special flavor of the Marmara shores of southern Thrace, home of some
of the world's best wine-grape varieties. The wines have the further
distinction of being aged for many years in cool underground cellars.
Advertisements for Doluca wines state: "If you are a wine connoisseur,
or just appreciate the good things of life, a pleasant surprise may be
in store for you in Turkey, especially when you try some of the famous
"Centuries of Quality"
Meanwhile, the wines from state producer Tekel, the biggest wine maker
in Turkey and the holders of "best" awards at many international wine
festivals, advertise their "Centuries of Quality" and say: "The
knowledge and experience acquired through centuries of viticulture and
wine making and the high quality of the grapes grown in Turkey have
contributed to the excellence of Turkish wines."
Sipping from a silver cup
It is no wonder that the container in which the wine is offered means
a lot to the wine lover. It distinguishes the flavor of the wine as
well as enhancing the special fantasy of the person drinking.
While some like sipping their wine from fine crystal glasses others
prefer silver cups and there are those who like earthenware jugs.
The archaeological finds on display in the Ankara's Museum of
Anatolian Civilizations indicate how the fancies of people have varied
since the Hittites and their contemporaries.
A golden goblet and pitcher found in the Hittite royal tombs dates
back to 2000 B.C. The bull-shaped wine cups from 1350 B.C. and the
grape-shaped wine cups from 1800 B.C. are other examples of such
These days people tend to sip their wine from fine crystal. One can
find beautiful crystal wine and champagne glasses at the state run
glassware industry Pasabahce stores throughout Turkey.
The ancient "magic" of Anatolian wines is still with us, so why not
rediscover their special flavors on an evening of culture and
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