local wines

Before all else I have to own up to the fact that I am not much of a wine drinker - or any kind of a drinker, for that matter. If/when I do have a drink it is usually raki, and that only once in a great while. So, in order to make this post I took some expert counsel from my sister Fatma and my brother-in-law Can, who are the wine connoisseurs in my family ;-).

The wine shelf at my grocery store shows a selection of some of the more popular local wines.

Although it may seem somewhat unexpected in a Muslim country, nonetheless Turkey has a strong agricultural tradition in winery, which goes back for millennia and has flourished during the Ottoman reign also. Historically there have been numerous Sufi Muslim sects which have delighted in wine (as Khayyam's poems are evidence of), and also of course the Greek Christian population of the empire hugely contributed to the upkeep of the wine industry in Asia Minor. With the founding of the republic in 1923 however, large scale commercial wineries were also initiated, of which Kavaklıdere (site here >>>) still remains as one of the largest.

Although wine is not as popular as raki or beer, it is nonetheless a good contender - to the point where according to wikipedia in the first half of 2009, wine consumption in Turkey reached 20,906,762 litres. And not only that - in recent decades Turkish wines are increasingly becoming international award winners and are being widely exported. While wine from all over the world is imported, Turkish wines still manage to compete very well in the local market, and not only in terms of price but also in terms of quality. An excellent website for local wines is vinografi (site here >>>). Unfortunately this site is in Turkish, however you may be able to make sense of it with google translate. (Note: When I searched for a website on Turkish wines in English I also came across this one here >>>, which seems to be quite a nice one as well).

While international grapes are widely used, Turkey also has a number of grapes which are indigenous to the soil. Famous amongst them are Kalecik Karası (read more here >>>), Öküzgözü (read more here >>>), Narince (read more here >>>), Emir (read more here >>>), and Karalahna (read more here >>>).

What follows are images of the output of three selected vineyards which I was especially told by my advisers to mention:

A mixture of local and international grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Karalahna and Öküzgözü are grown to make the Corvus wines which originate from a small island in the northern Aegeis, Bozcaada: http://www.corvus.com.tr/v2/en-US/. The price of a bottle of Corvus wine in a restaurant will vary from 40 to 50 Euros, depending upon vintage.

Kavklıdere Selection is a range of limited edition wines which are made from a blend of grapes which also include Turkish varieties such as Öküzgözü, Kalecik Karası and Narince. A bottle of these at a restaurant will be from 40 to 50 Euros. Kavaklıdere also has cheaper ranges which I was told are perfectly acceptable, notably Ancyra and Yakut, and a bottle of these will cost around 20 to 30 Euros in a restaurant. And here is an extra tip from my sister: Keep a special look out for Egeo which is also brought out by Kavaklıdere. Not a cheap tipple she says, but apparently worth every penny spent. 

Sarafin is a range of fine wines which are produced by Doluca, one of the biggest wineries in Turkey (site here >>>). These will set you back between 40 and 50 Euros in a restaurant. However, Doluca has plenty of more modestly priced wines as well, and the ones to look for are DLC, Villa Doluca and Antik, which will be from 20 to 30 Euros in a restaurant.

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