Does anyone know for what Boxing Day is, other than passing post-Christmas dinner wind and returning doubled gifts? (This year I received two food processors; my crusade to project an image of Nigella-level domesticity is almost complete.) Spending Christmas weekend with another family is a frightening exercise of navigating when you are welcome to join in-jokes and reveal kinship with the slobbish-tendencies of other relatives. Naturally, my greatest refuge is in food and wine.
Earlier this year, Dan and I traveled to Greece for a week long island-hopping excursion (yeah, we’re the worst), but rather than take on the non-stop Queer Candyland™ that is Mykonos, we went to Crete. Crete has an incredible viticultural industry, but it is rare to see Cretan wines outside of the Mediterranean. Cretan wine stays mostly in the hands of locals, where it is drunk like water. A great number of local shops in Crete sell wine in water bottles, marked only as “White” or “Red”. This wine is not quite bathtub gin, but chances are none of it saw time in oak or stainless steel.
There are a few wineries in the region which are gaining international attention, particularly for the ways the Cretan terroir affects the grapes. One is Domaine Economou, an estate with vineyards that are self-cultivated with the utmost respect for the environment and unique variations of the island. We were lucky this past week to rediscover this wine at Brooklyn Wine Exchange, which is currently stocking five different bottles from the Domaine’s Oikonomou Winery. To pair with our ginger-glazed ham (praise be to you, Nigella) we bought their shockingly affordable 1999 “Sitia”, made from the Liatiko grape. Exotic, complex, and replete with dark fruit notes, this wine is comparable to a Barbaresco or Barolo of a similar vintage. The age did wonders for the tannins and while the slight oxidation gave a lingering vinsanto flavor (cooked cherries), the spices, leather, and mineral finish make this wine a heady experience. A bite of ham, a sip of wine, bye bye family, hello Chania.
Where to find? – Brooklyn Wine Exchange
Price? – $59.99 (Oops) (Treat yo’ self) (It’s really really worth it!)
Grapes? – Liatiko