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Page 5

Greek Vintages

 

    All Greeks, however, drink their wine so diluted with water that it takes a decided quantity to produce a "reaction." The average drinker takes three parts water to two of wine. If he is a little reckless the ratio is four of water to three of wine; equal parts "make men mad" as the poet says, and are probably reserved for very wild dinner parties. As for drinking pure wine no one dreams of the thing—it is a practice fit for Barbarians. There is good reason, however, for this plentiful use of water. In the original state Greek wines were very strong, perhaps almost as alcoholic as whisky, and the Athenians have no Scotch climate to excuse the use of such stimulants.[5]

    No wine served in Athens, however, will appeal to a later-day connoisseur. It is all mixed with resin, which perhaps makes it more wholesome, but to enjoy it then becomes an acquired taste. There are any number of choice vintages, and you will be told that the local Attic wine is not very desirable, although of course it is the cheapest. Black wine is the strongest and sweetest; white wine is the weakest; rich golden is the driest and most wholesome. The rocky isles and headlands of the Ægean seem to produce the best vintage—Thasos, Cos, Lesbos, Rhodes, all boast their grapes; but the best wine beyond a doubt is from Chios.[6] It will fetch a mina ($18 [1914 or $310.14 2000]) the "metreta," i.e. nearly 50 cents [1914 or $8.62 2000] per quart. At the same time you can buy a "metreta" of common Attic wine for four drachmae (72 cents [1914 or $12.41 2000]), or say two cents [1914 or 34 cents 2000] per quart. The latter—when one considers the dilution—is surely cheap enough for the most humble.

 

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