Romance With Wine

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As the waiter covers our table with the plastic backed paper tablecloth that is the style at every Greek tavern, setting the basket of bread in the center, he asks us, “What can I get you to drink?” Everyone looks at each other knowing that this is not the easiest question for our group of wine lovers

Yianni is going to order the lamb chops; Lydia says she has been dreaming this week of the grilled red mullet fish; Georgia, the health nut of the group, will have the specialty of the day, Vegetarian Eggplant-Potato Mousaka.   Our starters include grilled octopus and stuffed zucchini blossoms.  There couldn’t be larger variety on the table. With all the diversity on our table—It is hard to choose one bottle that can be shared among us all, but after some debate, we decide that a bottle of Semeli Orino Helios.

Greece produces some very good roses, and often is a great choice with many of its traditional and non-traditional foods. It is my opinion that Greek roses have some of the most beautiful coloring. Many of Greece’s roses have enough body to stand up to grilled foods, don’t overpower lighter fish dishes, and often have enough acidity to cut through oilier vegetable dishes.


Semeli’s Orino Helios (Mountain Sun) wine is affordable and easy to drink on those lazy evenings in Greece, whether you are in a city tavern with the smell of night jasmine from a planter in the corner, or at the seaside where the aroma of saltwater fills the air. 100% Agiorgitiko, it has a bright cherry color with a nose of red fruits, spices, cherry and a hint of chocolate. It has enough acidity that it tastes fresh and concentrates the cherry flavor. It is obvious that this is Agiorgitiko. Serve it slightly chilled to 10-13 Celsius.

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Semeli was founded in 1979 and began with its first location at the base of Penteli Mountain, close to Athens, where it created wines with the local Savantiano grape as well as some international varieties. . The company then acquired vineyards in the Peloponnese, at Nemea and Mantinea, where the indigenous varieties of Roditis, Moschofilero and Agiorgitiko are used.





Nemea is one of the largest winemaking regions of Greece, producing some of its best wines. The prominent grape here is the Agiogitiko (Agios Georgios/ St. George). This grape variety produces wine with a deep color, soft tannins and balanced acidity. Versatile in range from fresh light wines to some full bodied, age worthy reds. This Agiogitiko grape along with the talent of the winemaker produces the aromatic award winning Orinos Helio 2012.

  • Concours Mondial De Bruxelles: Gold Medal
  • Vinalies Internationales (Paris): Silver Medal
  • Thessaloniki International Wine Competition: Silver Medal
  • Decanter World Wine Awards (London): Bronze Medal
  • International Wine & Spirits Competition (London): Bronze Medal
  • International Wine Challenge (London): Bronze Medal

I recommend a trip to the Koutsi region of Nemea about 30km south of Corinth. A short drive (about an hour and half) on Atiki Odos from Athens, it is a great place to run away from the hustle of the city for a well-deserved break. One can enjoy wine tasting, visit the area, and then spend the night at one of the areas guest lodgings. I suggest staying at Semeli winery. The winery sits atop a hill and provides a beautiful view of the valley. The eight quaint and comfortable rooms are nicely decorated and surround a great hall, which is available for events.   The smell of wine and oak are always in the air. My first trip to this winery was in 2009, and I remember how I enjoyed sitting back on the large patio balcony enjoying that view, with a glass in my hand.

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The Semeli winery is enough reason alone to travel there, but there is much more to enjoy. Nemea is a great town. Even my young son enjoyed the visit, excited to be in the place where Hercules completed the first of his 12 labors by slaying the wild ‘Lion of Nemea’. It is easy to balance your day of wine tours with nearby cultural treasures and historical monuments.




I am not a wine professional, but rather a semi-knowledgeable novice and devoted wine lover. According to Matt Kramer, who has contributed to Wine Spectator regularly since 1985, in his in the June 2014 issue of Wine Spectator, page 40, ‘Why Amateur Matters’ article, he writes, “Because the judgment of talented amateurs isn’t tied to some preordained criteria, it remains the gold standard.”

 I guess my opinion matters:), and, it is my opinion that most often the wine that holds the dearest place in our heart hasn’t anything to do with the varietal, vintage, or anything else. Certainly, I appreciate fine wines, but often the best wines for me are those that tug on my emotions and bring back memories. I will always be found of Meursault’s Chardonnay wines because of the glorious summer I spent there with my husband. I remember being the ultimate tourist with the girls on a trip touring the route of the movie ‘Sideways’, ending up in the Hitching Post where we laughed and talked over their Highliner Pinot Noir. Drinking Brunello warms my heart, as it triggers memories of awesome game of hide and seek I played with my son among the rows of vines while visiting the estate and cellars of Fattoria Dei Barbi, Montalcino.

…And, as I sat there in the bustle of the tavern drinking Orino Helios —I was taken back to Nemea, spending the evening at Semeli winery watching my young son play Hercules among the barrels and bottles!

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Don’t get too caught up in what you should drink, and what someone else says, because at the end of the day the wine isn’t just enjoyed by our sense of smell, taste and sight…but by our hearts and souls! Let yourself enjoy wine on your terms.

semeli wines






  1. susy @aegeansea

    November 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Well done! I’m familiar with the wines of the region & agree with you!

  2. Patty

    November 2, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Susy, thanks for the comment. Yes, it is such a fantastic region of Greece , and the wines are out of this world. Glad to know you agree with us. (We people with great taste agree on many things:)

    • susy @aegeansea

      November 4, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Had to respond to you! This says it all:
      “Don’t get too caught up in what you should drink, and what someone else says, because at the end of the day the wine isn’t just enjoyed by our sense of smell, taste and sight…but by our hearts and souls! Let yourself enjoy wine on your terms.”

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