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The Turkish Wine Frontier

I'm always interested in new and emerging winemaking regions, especially when they are places that have historically (and I mean mostly ancient history) been well known wine producing regions. Such is certainly the case for Turkey, which produced a lot of wine in centuries past as part of the Holy Roman Empire and later regimes.

In addition to this history, Turkey has the interesting distinction, like Egypt and Lebanon, of being a wine producing country whose dominant (but not sole) religion forbids alcohol.

Yet, as I was very interested to learn from this news article, Turkey has a growing and enthusiastic wine industry.

Unfortunately it is also hampered by fairly stiff taxes which have, in turn, given rise to a black market in wine. This doesn't seem to be dampening the spirits of those who have made the investment of time and energy in their vines, however. Long-lived vines, as well as the determination of their caretakers, have survived unfriendly fiscal policies elsewhere in the world. There's no reason to believe that in time, Turkey's wine culture won't be able to flourish and grow.

Read the full story. And if anyone knows where I can try some Turkish wine, let me know !

Comments (11)

Ernie in Berkeley wrote:
04.01.06 at 11:41 AM

In Berkeley, a Turkish restaurant called Bosphorus, on University at Tenth St., has bottles of Turkish wine on display behind the counter, but I'm not sure they actually serve them, so call first.

Terry Hughes wrote:
04.01.06 at 3:47 PM

Interesting article. Thanks for passing this to us, Alder, especially as I will be heading to Turkey on April 12 for 12 fascinating days. The word I have got on Turkish wines from an Italian blogger who goes there frequently is, "Drink the beer." But I hate beer, so it's wine or raki!

There are quite a few Turkish restaurants here in NY and they all serve Turkish wines. The few I've had are a bit harsh and rustic, but they do havge real character. More in a few weeks.

heidi breuer wrote:
04.01.06 at 9:46 PM

The Koran does not forbid alcahol okay. The beer is very good in Turkey tried the wine but was not to impressed but Turkey is a wonderful experience just be carful and smile a lot.

04.01.06 at 10:03 PM

Interesting, apparently the Koran does not explicity forbid Alcohol even if it comes very close....

Justin wrote:
04.02.06 at 7:51 PM

There is a nice article about a writer's visit to Turkish "wine country" complete with several pictures in the Jan/Feb issue of The Wine News.

hande wrote:
04.10.06 at 10:49 PM

The production of wine in Anatolia streches back 4000 years. There are couple Turkish wine producers who follow in the footsteps of this long tradition and uses modern methods to vinify both indigenous noble ans new grape varieties.KAVAKLİDERE is the oldest and biggest wine producer of Turkey, exports all over the world including USA. To learn more about wine making in Turkey visit www.kavaklidere.com
On this page you will also find a list of wine distributors around the world.

SailorLinda wrote:
07.30.06 at 10:59 AM

Is wine and beer easily obtained during Ramadan? We will be in Turkey Sept 23 - Oct 8. We plan on bring Alcohol onboard our sailing Gulet and hope it is easy to obtain. Does anyone out there know?

elif wrote:
12.10.06 at 7:29 AM

Here are some recommendations from a Turkish blogs site:

Red Wine

doluca özel kav 98 ve 99
sarafin cabernet savignon 98 - 99 - 00
melen gamay 1998
kavaklıdere öküzgözü 1998
tekel gamay 2000
kavaklıdere carignan alicante 2000

white wine
angora beyaz)
kavaklıkdere muscat

And as a final remark, as I'm sure you all know Turkey is a secular country and you can find and drink wine whenever you want here. I was not any different in Ottoman Empire I guess. Wine is also a theme used by many Turkish and Islamic authors/poets and even religious man. (You can google Neyzen Tevfik and Omer Hayyam to get a gist of it. You can be sure that Anatolian culture overrules Islamic culture in Turkey:)

mark salus wrote:
11.28.07 at 6:26 PM

I am going to travel in Turkey in august And I am wonder if I be able have wine with me mil in Restaurants? If they serve wine in restaurants in Turkey?

Gence wrote:
11.28.07 at 7:28 PM

Yes, most restaurants serve wine in Turkey, especially the finer dining establishments in larger cities or tourist destinations. The selection may not be huge though, especially if the food is authentic Turkish. The cuisine in general is better off paired with the national drink of choice, Raki, a dry anise liqueur or beer, there is really good beer in Turkey.

Now if you were to take your own wine with you, corkage charges are not the norm, simply a courtesy check when entering will be adequate, if they are licensed to serve it, I'm sure they will be OK with it when accompanying a handsome dinner bill.

What Turkish wines to seek and drink is another question that deserves a lengthier answer, but I hope this will be satisfactory.

Vince wrote:
07.12.10 at 2:50 AM

While Turkish wine and beer are drinkable, a connoisseur of either beverage will be dissapointed. At this point in time, they are not Turkey's claim to fame. Of course, that could change; it's a matter of ingredients and methodology.

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