A wine unique to Greece
. It is usually a white wine
, though some variants do come in rose
. It originally arose as wine was stored in barrels
that were sealed with pine tar
to reduce/prevent spoilage
. The pine tar introduced a bit of resin
into the wine, thus the name "retsina". The wine was even occasionally
referred to as wood nymph
Since then, legislation has been passed in Greece setting the level of resin required for a wine to legally call itself retsina - a level that is many times that which used to occur just from being sealed in the barrels. This level is usually obtained by adding chunks of resin to the wine as it ferments, later removing the chunks when the wine is prepared for bottling. The two main types of grape used for the whie are Savatiano and Rhoditis, though they are not the only ones.
The flavor has been described by some as a sappy taste - others describe it as turpentine-like.
Retsina has encountered decreasing popularity in Greece over the last few years, mostly blamed on people switching to cheap bulk wine, produced in mass amounts. Between 1985 and 2000, annual sales of retsina by the major distributor in Greece fell from 3 million to 850,000, and sales continue to drop by 15% a year.