Wine at the daily table of Greek families was and is permanently present. Even during the Turkish occupation, when the Moslem rulers of Greece had temporarily forbidden the consumption of wine, it defiantly remained on the Greek table. Together with winegrowing and wine production, wine consumption was the Greeks’ way of standing up to their rulers, at a conscious or subconscious level, and claiming their freedom by that small albeit rebellious act. During those long centuries of oppression a rich tradition in proverbs, poems, and songs surrounding vine and wine emerged to be handed down from generation to generation and was preserved to our days.
In modern times, wine continued to be an element of everyday life in independent Greece. Throughout the country which, in essence, is anchored on agriculture, every village had its own vineyards and every family had its own little vineyard whose products went towards ensuring that every family was self-sufficient in wine, year round. The wine aside, vineyards also produced such goods as table grapes; tsipouro; vinegar; molasses (boiled must used in sweets and desserts); and grape leaves, used in the making of dolmah, the stuffed grape leaves dish of Greek cuisine. The wine itself occupied a prominent position in cooking. It is thus clear that in Greece, wine at the daily table has been serving a multitude of purposes.
The austere Mediterranean diet, Greece’s regional cuisines, the Cretan diet, and fasting as a religious duty or as a conscious way of life, all have always been accompanied in Greece by a glass of wine. The tradition of the union between wine and Greece is age-old: Today, wine continues to be directly linked to the Greek people and their everyday life. Thus, wine at the daily table is not perceived as a mere accompaniment to Greek cuisine: It is the life of the Greeks itself and it is deeply etched into their hearts and collective memory.