Guide to Popular Turkish Wines
While the long list of popular Turkish wines might not dominate the global market like the French version, every wine connoisseur will still delight in sampling their favourite tipple. When considering alcohol, Turkey is often associated with Raki, made from twice-distilled grapes with 40 to 50% alcohol volume. Yet, those who know Turkey well will testify that their wine production deserves more admiration. The long list of wine regions and Turkish wineries stands with pride. From the east to the Aegean coast zone, the best wines of Turkey delight every palette. So, here is what to know about the wine world of modern-day Turkey.
Guide to Popular Turkish Wines
1: History of Turkish Wines
Turkey's rich history showcases wine production and traditional viticulture going back 7000 years into the ancient world. With the Hittite and Roman cultures specialising in wine, many assume wine was outlawed during the Muslim rule of the Ottoman empire. Yet the non-Muslim communities, like the Greeks, continued to produce wine. During the early 20th century, exports were higher than they are today. But during the Turkish War of Independence and the years following the Turkish republic formation, all production and sales were banned until Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established a winery in 1925.
2: Turkey's Wine Production in Modern Day
Many people are surprised to learn that Turkey is one of the world's biggest producers of grapes. However, only a tiny percentage is used for wine production, while the rest are table grapes. Hence the annual export of the Turkish economy to other countries is only about 10 million USD. Compare this to France, which annually exports about 10 billion USD, and it is easy to understand why Turkey doesn't have a global reputation for wine. Additionally, although more liberal Turks drink alcohol, many like drinking alcohol like beer or Raki instead. However, this gives much potential for the future of wine exports from Turkey.
Even the Turkish Ministry of Trade says…
"Despite winning gold medals and many other prizes in international competitions, the current export quantity of wine is less than we desire, considering the volume of grape production. Nevertheless, increasing production capacity and raising the quality of Turkish wine will be the future tools for competing in international markets."
3: Grape Varieties by Turkish Wine Regions
- Marmara and Thrace: White varieties include Clairette, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillion, Beylerce, Yapincak and Vasilaki. Red wine cultivation lends to Pinot Noir, Adakarasi, Papazkarasi, Karaseker, Gamay, Karalahana, Cabernet Franc, and Cinsaut. This selection alone will ensure varied wine cellars.
- Aegean coast's vineyards: Turkish white wines include Semillon, Bornova Misketi, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sultaniye. Red varieties include Carignane, Calkarasi, Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet. The Aegean coast is one of Turkey's most extensive wine production areas, and the Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly pairs with red meats cooked without spicy cloves.
- Central Anatolia: Local grapes include Emir, Hasandede, Narince and Kabarcik. Red wines include Okuzgozu, Bogazkere, Kalecik Karasi, Papazkarasi, Dimrit, Sergikarasi and Burdur Dimriti.
- Mediterranean region: White wine varieties include Kabarcik and Dokulgen. Red types include Sergikarası and Bogazkere. The Mediterranean region has mild winters, which once again affects grape production.
- South Eastern Anatolia: White wines include Dokulgen, Kabarcik and Rumi. Red wine varieties include Horozkarasi, Okuzgozu, Bogazkere and Sergikaras. The eastern Anatolia Turkish climate lends weight to completely different tastes.
- Black Sea: White wine varieties include Narince grapes, while red wine varieties include Okuzgozu and Bogazkere. The Black sea region is more renowned for tea production rather than wine.
4: Widely Grown Grapes for Turkish Wines
Kalecik Karasi Wine Grapes: This high-quality Central Anatolian grape lends weight to smooth and fruity, medium-bodied red wines with tastes of strawberries, rose and figs. For their flavour and aroma, Vineyards favour the Kalecik Karasi grape, and the grape is often entered into wine competitions.
Okuzgozu Wine Grapes: This versatile red grape variety, mainly produced in the Malatya and Elazig eastern Anatolia regions, has high acidity and medium-bodied wines with intense aromas and tastes. This grape cultivation during hot summers is said to produce one of the best Turkish wines.
Narince Wine Grapes: Mostly grown at the foot of the Black Sea Turkish Mountain range, this grape variety has good acidity and is ideally suited for wine ageing.
Bogazkere Indigenous Grapes: This dark grape, primarily grown in the Diyarbakir, Elazig, Malatya and Gaziantep wine regions, owes its excellence to red soil, which contains limestone and clay. However, Bogazkere grapes grown in the Denizli wine region produce fruitier flavours.
Sultaniye: This seedless, fleshy white grape owes its fruity aroma to the low acidity, moderate Mediterranean climate and high altitude.
Emir: Grown in the central Anatolia region, the Emir grape produces a dry white wine with distinct aromas. Usually light yellow in colour, this is also an excellent grape for sparkling wine. Emir is considered one of the best wines in Turkey.
Calkarasi: Grown mainly in the Aegean Denizli inland region at an altitude of 1200 meters, Calkarasi is ideal for rose wine with fruity aromas.
5: Vineyard Sites to Visit in Turkey
Urla Winery: Groups of eight or more people can book tasting sessions for this Turkish winery that Trip Advisor users voted the best in Turkey. Established 15 years ago, they produce ten types of Turkish wines and have won over 150 awards in Turkey and abroad. Sitting in the Izmir Aegean region of Turkey, they are one of the better vineyard sites and produce….
- Urla Nexus (Merlot-Nero d’Avola-Cabernet Franc)
- Urla Nero d’Avola & Urla Karası
- Urla Vourla (Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Syrah-Bogazkere)
- Urla Tempus (Merlot-international grapes of Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon-Petit Verdot)
- Urla Serendias Roze (Pinot Noir-Kalecik Karasi)
- Urla Symposium Domisek (Bornova Misketi)
- Urla Chardonnay
- Urla Sauvignon Blanc
- Urla Cabernet Sauvignon
- Urla Bogazkere
- Urla Hypnose (Narince & Beyazkere)
Barbare: Meanwhile, in Turkey's Tekirdag area, Barbare is another award-winning vineyard producing ten different wines. Their tale began in 2000, but these days, they occupy 230 acres to grow the best grapes for wine. The only white wine produced is Sauvignon Blanc. The rose wine blends Cabernet Sauvignon & Mourvèdre. Their Barbare excellent Turkish wine is matured in oak barrels, while their Bordeaux style red wine, Barbare Prestige, made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, suits every wine aficionado. This Turkish winery is open for wine-tasting sessions and also vineyard tours.
Tursan Wine House: Sitting in Cappadocia, this isn't the vineyard, just the boutique winery, but it still perfectly introduces Turkish wine from the Cappadocia region of Turkey, which is at higher altitudes. The winery, set up in 1943, is still run by the same family nearly three generations later. The Cappadocia region is known for the famed Emir grape and Kalecik Karasi making this the place to taste the best Turkish wines.
Sensus Wine Boutique Gallery: Once again, this isn’t a vineyard but if you are in the Galata district of Istanbul, do drop by Sensus for an amazing selection of wines to buy and taste. This is perfect if you want to pair Turkish food and wine since their starters, main courses and puddings are all served to go with various red, white and rose wines from around Turkey and the world.
Also, About Food and Drink in Turkey
Turkish Dishes by Region: Modern-day Turkish cuisine rivals the best in London, Paris, Milan or New York. The cuisine offers varied flavours, from international fine dining establishments to traditional food from street vendors. Whatever you choose to eat, Turks are passionate about their food, so expect feasts.
Eating Fish in Turkey: It may surprise anybody not familiar with the country to learn that eating fish in Turkey is an essential part of its culture. While its stereotyped international reputation revolves around the humble kebab, the cuisine goes much deeper.
Popular Turkish Dishes: Turkish food is world-renowned and ranks as delightful cuisine! Since Ottoman times, chefs have fought to make the best dishes for sultans, and now these top 10 Turkish dishes have expanded into other countries for all to enjoy. But needless, experiencing Turkish cuisine in its original country will always be worth the travel time.