Did you know that a visit to Santorini would still be a unique experience even if the island wasn’t as breathtakingly beautiful as it is?
Did you know that visitors here enjoy a feast not just for their eyes but also for their taste buds? The dazzling light and the Aegean breeze combined with the island’s fertile volcanic soil nurture the local agricultural products, endowing them with top quality and a unique taste.
It’s no accident that the Greek word gastérnómos has been adopted by many foreign languages (gastronomia, gastronomie, gastronomy), or that a Greek wrote the first cookbook in history – Archestratos in 330 B.C. Gastronomy in Greece has a recorded history of 4000 years, with local specialities and flavours born out of the unique characteristics of the land.
Did you know that?
Prior to the 1960s, Santorini was largely a rural island, literally living off the fruits of its labour. As tourism grew, locals began to turn their backs on agriculture to try their luck at profiting from the tourist dollar. Fortunately, growing demand for authentic local produce and a more sophisticated tourist appetite for regional flavours has meant a resurgence in the production of high-quality local produce and a focus on innovative local cuisine. Santorini has emerged as one of the ‘tastiest’ islands in Greece, and a first-class gastronomic destination in its own right.
Santorini enjoys 300 sun-filled days a year and its volcanic soils are dry but fertile – ideal conditions for producing outstanding wine, small tomatoes, split peas, capers and white aubergine. Volcanic soil is not really soil at all – it lacks the organic humus of most rich soils – but the plants here have adapted to access its abundant minerals, and absorb moisture from the humidity in the air. Century-old vines produce Assyrtiko grapes that deliver the unique experience of high acidity, intense minerality and citrus flavours upfront.
If there was ever an island worthy of the nickname “the wine island”, then it is undoubtedly Santorini.
Did you know that?
The excavations at the site of Akrotiri have proved that wine making and trading used to be among the most important activities for prehistoric locals. Several eruptions of the volcano over the centuries caused consecutive layers of volcanic matter, including ash, lava, and pumice to cover the limestone and slate subsoil, forming what the locals call “aspa”, i.e. hard, solid ground. Over the years, grape growers have built terraces using petrified lava stones in order to prevent the soil being eroded by the strong winds, and to help retain what little rain falls. Thanks to geographical factors here, the vines are very healthy: the hot sun and strong winds dry up any dampness on the fruit and prevent diseases and other problems such as mildew and botrytis.
In other words, the principles of organic cultivation are automatically applied here, as the growers are left only with the tasks of sulphuration and pruning. The latter involves the use of a special technique to form a “basket” within which the grapes are protected from the sand carried in the wind.
Soaking up the traditional atmosphere in villages perched high on the clifftops overlooking the Aegean is all the more memorable when you are enjoying a delightful meal and the distinctive regional flavours of a local wine or two.
The Esperisma bar-restaurant in Santorini offer a broad range of the local dishes and wines now snapping up awards across the globe.