Discovering the Ancient Elegance of Greco Grapes

Greco grapes, often hailed as one of Italy’s most ancient and esteemed varietals, carry a legacy steeped in history and tradition. Originating from Greece, as the name suggests, this noble white-wine grape made its way to southern Italy over two millennia ago, finding a hospitable home in the sun-drenched regions of Campania and Calabria.

A Brief History

Tracing its roots back to ancient Greece, the Greco grape was brought to Italy by Hellenic colonists. Its journey through time has seen it become a cornerstone of Southern Italian viticulture. Over centuries, Greco has adapted to the unique terroirs of regions like Campania, particularly flourishing in areas like Tufo, lending its name to the renowned Greco di Tufo DOCG.


Greco grapes are known for their robust structure and potential for aging. The grape clusters are medium to large, with thick-skinned berries that resist disease well, making them a favorite among vintners in Italy’s sometimes challenging growing conditions.

Flavor Profile

Greco wines are celebrated for their complexity and aromatic intensity. On the nose, they often exude delightful aromas of ripe pear, green apple, lemon zest, and a hint of almond. As the wine opens up, more nuanced notes such as white flowers, herbs, and mineral undertones emerge. On the palate, Greco wines are typically dry, with a bright acidity that balances the fruit flavors beautifully. The finish is often long and marked by a distinct minerality, a signature of the volcanic soils in which these grapes often thrive.

Styles of Wines

Greco predominantly made in a dry, still style. However, there are variations. Some winemakers produce a slightly sweeter version, which allows the natural fruitiness of the grape to come forward more prominently. Another interesting style is the sparkling Greco, although less common, it offers a refreshing twist on the traditional still wines.

Winemaking and Maturation Options

Traditionally, Greco grapes are harvested manually to ensure the integrity of the fruit. In the winery, the approach to vinification varies. Some producers prefer stainless steel tanks to preserve the crisp, fruity character of the grape, while others opt for aging in oak barrels, which imparts additional complexity and structure to the wine.

The decision to age Greco wines also varies. While many are enjoyed young to savor their fresh and vibrant character, certain high-quality Greco di Tufo wines have the potential to age gracefully, developing richer, more nuanced flavors over time.

Important Regions

The epicenter of Greco winemaking is the Campania region, with the Greco di Tufo DOCG being the most prominent designation. This area is known for its unique volcanic soils, which impart a distinctive minerality to the wines. Nearby, the Sannio DOC also produces notable Greco wines. Outside Campania, some winemakers in Calabria and other Southern Italian regions are experimenting with Greco, achieving exciting results.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Greco wines, with their balance of fruitiness and acidity, are incredibly versatile at the dining table. They pair beautifully with seafood, particularly shellfish, enhancing the flavors of dishes like grilled shrimp or seared scallops. Their herbal and floral notes make them a great match for herbed chicken or pasta with pesto. For a regional pairing, try Greco with Campanian specialties like pizza Margherita or seafood risotto. And for those who enjoy cheese, a glass of Greco alongside fresh mozzarella or burrata is a match made in heaven.

The Greco grape variety is a testament to Italy’s rich winemaking heritage. Its ability to produce wines with such depth, character, and versatility makes it a favorite among wine enthusiasts and novices alike. Whether you’re enjoying a glass of young, vibrant Greco di Tufo or savoring a mature bottle with a more complex profile, this grape variety promises a delightful and enriching wine experience.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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