Turkish Wines

Dining with our beloved ones is something special and Turkish wines can make it even better. These are the tastes you may want to experience during your Bodrum trip especially if you are a wine lover.

Wine and Candle in Bodrum: A Classic!A Winter Classic in Bodrum: Wine and Candle

The importance of a quality wine for a gourmet is undeniable. I think if we are talking about dining and the Aegean cuisine, Turkish wine should be a part of the conversation.

However, some legal restrictions about alcoholic drinks is another thing I have to take into consideration. In 2013, current Turkish government announced a new legal regulation and banned promoting, selling and even introducing all kinds of alcoholic beverages which limits me to provide a comprehensive wine guide of Turkey. Instead, I am going to talk about grape varieties of Turkey. I hope this information would serve you well while picking the right wine during your visit.

Viticulture in Turkey

Viticulture is one the most important agricultural activities of the world. More than 10 million hectares of the planet’s surface is covered by vineyards. Geographically the best suitable locations for growing wine grapes are between the 30th and 50th latitudes in south and north hemispheres where Turkey is also located.

The grape family, Vitis Vinifera, covers all the grapes that can be used in wine production. According to the latest reports, there are more than 1250 different grape varieties in Turkey and around 40 of them belong Vitis Vinifera family which we use to produce Turkish wines.

Women working in a vineyard - Image from www.kavaklidere.comTurkish Women Working At a Vineyard

Turkey is the sixth biggest grape fruit producer of the world and the fourth biggest country in terms of vineyard area coverage. However, these data is not proportional with the wine consumption. Considering average yearly wine consumption in France and Italy is 50-60 litres per person, it is just 0.9 in Turkey. Quite a difference, isn’t it?

Anatolia played a major role in the history of wine. It is where wine and viticulture were born. Although the prohibition of alcoholic beverages had caused negative impact and stopped further advances during Ottoman Empire, today a lot of producers are producing award-winning wines with the unique selection of Anatolian wine grapes. 

Wine Regions of Turkey

Turkey can be divided into 4 regions for better classifying the diversity of local and international grape varieties.

Regions of TurkeyRegions of Turkey

Marmara Region

Northwest part of Turkey is the biggest producer of the wine grapes. Marmara supplies more than 30% of the total demand. High humidity, mild climate makes the region favourable for viticulture. The most important areas within the region are Sarkoy, Murefte, Tekirdag, Edirne, Avsa Island, Bozcaada Island, Gokceada Island, Canakkale and Adapazari.

Grape Varieties in Marmara Region
Local Grapes International Grapes
Black White Black White
Papazkarasi, Adakarasi, Karalahna, Karasakiz Vasilaki, Cavus, Sidalan, Yapincak Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Gamay, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Grenache Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonay

Aegean and Mediterranean Regions

Due to hot summers and mild winters, the wines produced in Aegean have usually higher alcohol volumes. International grapes are well-adapted to the region so they are the main varieties currently being cultivated. Vineyards can be found all over the region. It is also the most popular region for the amateur wine producers.

Grape Varieties in Aegean and Metiterranean Region
Local Grapes International Grapes
Black White Black White
Calkarasi, Kalecik Karasi, Okuzgozu, Bogazkere Misket, Sultaniye, Bornova Misketi Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Alicante Bouchet, Sangiovese, Nero d'Avola, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc

Central Anatolia Region

The largest wine region of Turkey can be divided into 3 areas: Kalecik, Cappadocia and Narince. Narince white grape grows at Tokat province. Kalecik Karasi is an Ankara grape which is one of my favourites. Cappadocia is also an important centre for viticulture with its volcanic soil among. It is also a popular destination for international visitors with its natural and cultural beauties.

Grape Varieties in Central Anatolia Region
Local Grapes International Grapes
Black White Black White
Dimrit, Kalecik Karasi Emir, Narince Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonay

East and Southeast Anatolia Region

The continental climate with dry and hot summers and cold winters affects eastern part where a special grape, Okuzgozu, is cultivated especially in Elazig and Malatya. On the other hand, the Southeast Anatolia, where Bogazkere grape is grown, has a mild and rainy winters and hot summers. Diyarbakir province is the biggest producer of this type.

Grape Varieties in East and Southest Anatolia Region
Local Grapes International Grapes
Black White Black White
Okuzgozu, Bogazkere, Karaoglan, Kohnu Rumi, Dokulgen, Kabarcik Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache N/A

Unique Grapes for Turkish Wines

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the grape varieties of Turkey offer a wide selection of Turkish wines. The excitement comes from our varying We all prioritize different senses at varying levels when Every individual has different likes and dislikes when picking a bottle of wine. However, they all agree on the quality. 

Below are some of the local grape varieties which produces popular Turkish wines. Since these are endemic to Turkey, It may be a good idea to give them a try while you are in Turkey. You will also find their brief characteristics which may help you to choose the right one.

Black Grapes

Kalecik Karasi

Kalecik Karasi Grape - Image from www.winesofturkey.orgKalecik Karasi

Kalecik Karasi is the finest quality wine grape of the central Anatolia and cultivated mainly in the Kalecik district of Ankara. It is a rare grape which can only be found in Anatolia and has been used in wine making since the Hittites. Acidic, fruity red wines of medium intensity and tannin are produced from this varietal.

You can enjoy it with grilled fatty fishes, fried chicken, red meat and even pide (a Turkish kebab looking like a pizza).

Okuzgozu

Okuzgozu Grape - Image from www.winesofturkey.orgOkuzgozu

Okuzgozu means “Ox Eye” in Turkish. The name comes from the shape and colour of the grape itself. Malatya and Elazig are the two major producers of this type. Black mulberry, ripe cherry, violet and raspberry flavours are dominant in Okuzgozu grapes which usually produce medium to full bodied wines with light tannin.

Lamp, Anatolia’s sauced meat dishes and kebabs are good companies for Okuzgozu wines. 

Bogazkere

Bogazkere Grape - Image from www.winesofturkey.orgBogazkere

Bogazkere grape is a product of Diyarbakir province which is located in northern Mesopotamia. It produces a highly tannic wine with cherry, sour cherry, blackberry, black mulberry, thyme and black olive aromas. Its blends with Okuzgozu, and sometimes Kalecik Karasi, are quite popular.

Spicy dishes, hot sauces, pizzas and cheese may go together well with this old varietal.

White Grapes

Emir

Emir Grape - Image from www.winesofturkey.orgEmir

It is a juicy white grape from Cappadocia. These grapes produce wines of high acidity and mineral content with hints of citrus, and green apple. If you enjoy unique and distinguished aromas and refreshing tastes, it would be a good choice. Their colours vary from green-yellow to light yellow. It is also used for producing sparkling wines.

You would probably like it with hot and spicy sea foods, olive oil dishes, fried food and low fat cheeses.

Narince

Narince Grape - Image from www.winesofturkey.orgNarince

Narince is a grape from Tokat, a beautiful city where Black Sea and Central Anatolia regions intersect. Recently Cappadocia has started to cultivate Narince as well. The wines made from it are usually suitable for aging and have citrus, mineral and pear aromas.

Narince can be consumed with white meat, pastas and steamed fish stews.

Sultaniye

Sultaniye Grape - Image from www.winesofturkey.orgSultaniye

Sultaniye is widely planted in Aegean Region, especially in Manisa and Denizli. It is a thin skinned grape which produces light and fruity wines. Exotic fruits, pine apple and mango are the dominant aromas of this varietal.

Sultaniye is a popular choice along with steamed sea foods, green salads and starters.

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