Word of the Week: Amphora

The amphora is one of the most ancient containers of wine, its name deriving from a Greek word meaning “two-handled.” While they varied in precise shape and size, most amphorae in antiquity, often made from clay or terra cotta, did indeed feature two handles, as well as a narrow mouth and neck and a pointed bottom. Amphorae were used for the transport of several liquids and goods, but those carrying wine were coated with a layer of pine resin to prevent leakage. Retsina , a category of Greek wine where small pieces of Aleppo pine resin are added to the wine during fermentation, is said to evoke the flavors and style of these ancient wines. While amphorae are no longer used for the transport of wine, they are experiencing a revival in the cellar. A number of established and experimental winemakers across the world are utilizing the vessel during both the fermentation and the ageing processes. In the country of Georgia , massive earthenware amphorae, called “qvevri,” have remained in use for millennia for the production of wine. In other regions, from Bordeaux to Sicily to Oregon , vintners are rediscovering amphorae as an alternative to oak barrels. Like oak, amphorae are porous, allowing a small amount of oxygen to seep through and soften the wines, but without imparting any “oaky flavors.” They may be one of the oldest tools in the box, but amphorae are reemerging as one of the most innovative tricks for the modern winemaker.

Azienda Agricola COS

Pithos Rosso Vittoria Nero d'Avola Frappato 2010

Marc Stubblefield

Yes, you lose some of the fruity/floral qualities of the Nero d'Avola/Frappato blend when you put in amphora. But you gain such texture and earthiness that it's worth it, especially with some age. The acidity? Don't worry, still there. — 6 years ago

Keith, Bill and 20 others liked this



Saturday lunch with friends in Nikoklia village, Paphos, Cyprus. 100% Roditis (grape predominantly found in Peloponise, southern mainland Greece) with 1kg of pine resin every 1000 lt of grape juice. Of which it is then fermented in amphorae. Then a small amount of Roditis is added to the mix in order to maintain the wine, Retsina is a wine by tradition.
I find it to be possibly the best there is in the market, with a fruity element and finess, not to mention THE BEST VALUE FOR MONEY, based on the quality.
Bravo Panagioti for producing such a wine!!!!!!
— 9 years ago

Maria, Matt and 1 other liked this

Pheasant's Tears

Rkatsiteli 2015

Never in my life have I encountered a beverage like this. This is truly like liquid stone and stone fruit skin in the absolute craziest way. I don’t really know what to do with it but I will be back for more if for none other than shear interest. Not a quaffing wine and by no means is this fun, this is the most serious wine I have ever encountered. Not sloppy and not flawed. Georgian shamanism at its most psychedelic. — 6 years ago

Kai liked this

Beckham Estate Vineyard

A.D. Beckham Amphora Pinot Gris 2013

Only 4 cases made. Surprising salmon in color. Well structured with a bit of initial grip that mellowed with time. Quince and fresh butter. Delish. — 9 years ago

Matt liked this

De Martino

Viejas Tinajas Valle del Itata Muscat 2015

Old vine Chilean Muscat aged in amphorae. Smelled like a sour beer but with layers of complexity on the palate. Really cool. — 7 years ago

Matt liked this

Gaia (Gaia's Estate)

Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina

Lyle Coffield

You want to taste absolutely the best retsina you've ever had with grace and finesse and blah blah blah blah blah? This is it! Made with a subtle hand aromas of Masticha and Kefir peel... Mind blowingly interesting. — 9 years ago

Kristin and Matt liked this
David Marcovici

David Marcovici

Really? Retsina??
Lyle Coffield

Lyle Coffield Influencer Badge

I'm going to bring a bottle to your bar mitzvah... This stuff is like none you've ever tried!
David Marcovici

David Marcovici

Lol, can't wait! Glad to see your Greece trip was productive.