Jet Wine Bar

Philly's Global Vineyard.
We specialize in wines from emerging and lesser-known regions, as well as uncommon varietals.

We also have a selection of craft beers and a full bar.

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    6 posts tagged retsina

    Santorini harvest Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Leon Karatsalos    Domaine Spiropoulos Porto Carras

    Greek Wine Tasting

    If you don’t know your Moschofilero from your Agiorgitiko – or even what the heck those are(!) – now is a great time to start sampling Greek wines.  Greece enjoys a long and rich history of grape cultivation and wine-making, which dates back thousands of years.

    In ancient Greece, wine was a major part of daily life. Whole cults were devoted to Dionysus, the God of wine.  Wine was a must at any symposium, and it was likely healthier than water. Hippocrates used wine for medicinal purposes, and, in an aphorism that surely pleases many academics and heavy readers, noted that “drinking undiluted wine” was a cure for eye pains (aphormisms, #46)   

    From this history comes many indigenous grape varieties, such as Athiri, Savatiano, Xinomavro, Mavrodaphne, and Malagousia. Through their active maritime trade, they helped spread many grapes to other Mediterranean countries and also disseminate their knowledge of-  and techniques for- viticulture and winemaking.

    Wine making in Greece suffered in more modern times due to wars, politics, and general economic woes.  However, in recent years the efforts of wine-making families and maverick individuals to modernize production and, at the same time, pay homage to the roots of Greek wines are paying dividends.  Many producers are making high-quality wines with Greece’s unique terroir and numerous in indigenous grapes. 

    For our latest tasting in the Global Vineyard Passport Series, Bob Barrett – our Certified Expert of Wine – chose only wines made from indigenous grapes. 

    Here is what we tasted:

    Gai’a Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina

    Gai’a Wines was founded in 1994 by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Leon Karatsalos.  Both men are Agriculturalists and Yiannis also has an Enology Phd.  Their goal to show the world the potential of indigenous grape-varietals is well-met through their locations in Nemea in the Peloponnese and Santorini.

    Retsina is wine to which pine resin (from the Pinus halapensis) has been added during fermentation.  This tradition grew out of the practice of closing ancient amphorae with such resin, which would lend its flavor to the wine.  Gai’a makes its Retsina with the Roditis grape – instead of the traditional Savatiano. 

    Gai’a makes one of the best Retsinas I have ever tasted.  It definitely requires a few sips to show its full flavor-profile, which at first is entirely dominated by the lemony-pine notes of the pine resin.  Once past the Pinesol-shock, you are rewarded with great, fresh, citrus flavors, lemon zest, a hint of oiliness and a bit of a tingle.  The wine changes noticeably with a fresh cheese – the lemon and pine are subdued.

    I would say that all of our tasters were rather shocked by this wine, and all but one enjoyed it.                                              

    Domaine Argyros Assyrtiko, Santorini

    The Argyros Estate in Santorini was founded in 1903 by Georgios Argyros.  It’s vineyards are among the oldest on the island, with parts more than 150 years old.  The indigenous, Assyrtiko grapes grow vines trained to the traditional “crown”.

    Assyrtiko is becoming better-known in the States for good reason:  it’s grapes produce dry, bright, acidic wines that are easy to drink.  This one is no exception.  In addition to those characteristics, this wine has some notes of apple, mineral from the volcanic soil, and an oily brininess from the sea.  It has a fuller-body and can be described as “racy” – sort of lean and acidic. This wine is also excellent with food, and it tasted great with our marinated olives.  All of our tasters liked this Assyrtiko. 

    Domaine Spiropoulos Mantinia, Peloponese

    The Spiropoulos family has been making wine since 1860.  More recently, since 1993, they have been pioneers in organic viticulture and wine making.  They have vineyards in the Peloponnese in Nemea, and on the Mantinia Plateau 650m above sea level.  Apostolos Spiropoulos is a UC-Davis trained enologist who oversees production. 

    This wine is made from the Moschofilero grape; it is a pink-skinned variety known for its floral aroma, and used to produce white wines and rose.  It also produces wines that are quite varied in style, and this one was a surprise – especially to Bob!  It is a much richer, fuller-bodied expression of Moschofilero.  The almond-flower nose is in contrast to some herbal, bitter notes in the mouth.  Our taster, Cynthia, noted that the bitter was subdued by eating an apple slice.  This wine – like all the other whites – has a very distinctive flavor and character.  It was liked by many, but definitely was not liked by all of our tasters.  It was possibly my favorite of the evening, and was also well-liked by Milton and Goldie.

    Gai’a Notios Red, Peloponnese

    Gai’a (see above) makes this Agiorgitiko from its vineyards in the Nemea region of the Peloponnese.  Grapes here are mature low-yield, and un-irrigated.  It is the most widely-planted red variety in Greece, and produces very drinkable wines.

    This wine is juicy and light, and drinks much like a Beaujolais.  It has a very pretty, red color and definite fruity notes of cherry.  Tannins are low and soft. The Notios was probably the most easy-going wine of the night, and probably also the least distinctive.  It was enjoyed by the majority of the group – even those who said they do not normally drink Beaujolais.  It was a bit too light for Milton.  

    Domaine Porto Carras Limnio, Côtes de Meliton

    The Domaine Porto Carras was established in 1967 in Chaldiki, Central Macedonia.  It has one of the largest vineyards in Europe, with over 475 hectares planted with 27 Greek and international varieties.

    It is difficult to prove the very ancient pedigree of grapes, but many wine experts – including Jancis Robinson – believe that “Limnio” can be equated to “Lemnia”, which is described by Aristotle as a specialty of the island of Limnos.  There is also reference to “Limnia”, by Hesiod and Polydeuctes. 

    The Limnio is full-bodied and muscular.  It has an earthy nose with some vegetal characteristics.  The tannins are strong and round.  This was an excellent red on which to end as it really promotes lingering and sipping. 

    This was very well-liked – especially by our “red wine drinkers”: Milton, Goldie, Rodney, Catherine, and Rachael.  In fact, Rachael revealed that it was the promise of tasting Limnio that drew her to the class!


    The favorites?  Well, the Limnio pretty much blew people away with its richness and depth.  As for the whites, I think sentiment was pretty well divided.  All of the whites were found to be very distinctive and full of unique flavor.  The Assyrtiko is the easiest to drink, while the Retsina and this particular Moschofilero are a bit more challenging.  After the full tasting, though, the Retsina was the most-requested cup-filler.  For some red-wine drinkers, like Catherine, the Greek whites were enjoyed because of their fuller body and flavoring.  

    More information on all these wines - and Greek wines, in general - can be found here.

    Tasting Tuesday Food Pairings

    Tuesdays, of course, are for “tasting” at Jet.  So, we offer you the option to build your own flight for $10, or try a half-glass for half-price.  Want to make it even better?  Add food to the mix.  Our new, summertime menu has 5 different bruschetta options to mix and match.  Get one or get them all.  And, pair them with your wine! Let’s see how this might work:

    Does the Tomato and Mozzarella with basil and olives sound good?  It does to me (and, well, it is good).  What about a wine?  I’d like this food with a white wine, because of the acidic tomatoes and the delicate cheese.  My choice would be the Savatiano, with its light, floral nose and crisp, apple mouth.  Hmm, but maybe the melon and green leaf flavor of the Albarino would taste better?  What to do?  Get a half glass of each!

    What if you want to pick the wines first?  No problem.  Let’s pick a flight of a red, a white, and a rose.  My choice would be "Ce Vin" for red, Retsina for white, and Raboso for our rose.  The red is full and rustic.  It would be wonderful with the spinach, mushroom, and goat cheese.  The retsina is unusual, strong, and lemony.  I’d pair it with the kalamata tapenade.  The Raboso has light bubbles with some chocolate dust, pomegranate, and strawberry.  Hmm. Let’s pair it with the prosciutto - why not, they are both Italian. 

    Drink How You Live, Part 2: Grill Master

    Want to try new wines for summer, but aren’t sure how to find the right style for you?  Look no further than our “Drink How You Live” series.  In Part 1, we featured “Retro” wines like Soave and Asti Spumante.  In Part 2 we are highlighting wines for those who subsist on grilled meats, fish, and veggies all summer long.  If you have a well-seasoned grill, oodles of charcoal (or several propane tanks), and neighbors who shut their windows and curse your smoke nightly, then we have some suggestions for you, Grill Master.

    First things first, this isn’t the time for delicate or subtle wines.  All grilled foods - even fish and vegetables - tend to have strong flavors from marinades, spices, and smoke.  This is food that is good with “big”, flavorful wines; these will stand up to the food and flavors without being overwhelmed.  For specifics, look to the places where barbecuing is king; I think of the US, Argentina, and Australia.

    For reds, each of these countries has a “grilling” grape: Zinfandel (particularly from CA), Malbec, Shiraz.  The common characteristics in many resulting wines are ripe and overripe fruit (e.g. berries that almost taste like compote or jam) and high alcohol.  Additional, typical flavors are black pepper, plum, cedar and, for shiraz, leather.  Does it sound like something you might make into a marinade?  It does to me, and that is part of what makes these wines great with grilled chicken, beef, lamb, pork, etc. 

    While other grapes also produce great wines for grilling, these have the added bonus of being consistent, relatively inexpensive and readily available in the PLCB stores!

    But, if you are feeling more adventurous and have a bigger selection from which to choose, there are many others that fit the bill.  Sticking with Argentina, Bonarda is a great grape for a barbecue.  It offers a brighter (less “jammy”) fruit than do many of those listed above, with all of the spice and earthiness.  Some have a nice “smokey” quality that goes particularly well, in my opinion, with grilled meats.  Speaking of smoke, one of my favorite grapes for barbecue is Pinotage.  Pinotage is a South African hybrid of Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsault).  It is not universally loved - in part for its propensity for tar and burning-tire aromas.  But, its strong earthiness, ripe berry, and cassis notes make it perfect for grilled meats. Xinomavro comes from one of my favorite wine regions in Greece, Naoussa.  The fruits aren’t as pronounced as some of the other wines listed, but has spiciness and acidity to cut through some of the fattier meats on the grill. Xinomavro can be drunk young or aged, but just remember to pair it with a simpler dish if aged.

    What if you are putting “another shrimp on the barbie” and would rather have a white wine?  No problem.  Again, the US, Australia, and Argentina have a plethora of standards.  First to mind is that big, buttery Chardonnay that you keep skipping over in the back of the refrigerator.  The chardonnay grape is exceptionally “neutral” in flavor and it is the oak that makes it big and flavorful enough for grilling.  This is NOT the time for a refined Chablis.  Viognier may also work, thought the heady, flowery aroma can be a bit much in the heat.  That stand-by, Sauvignon Blanc, is also appropriate for these foods.  It has fruit, acid, mineral, and herb that are perfect with grilled shrimp and salads. 

    What about some less-typical offerings?  There are plenty.  Sicilian Grillo can be quite full in body, with flavors of apple and pear, citrus and brine.  It often has “cheese” on the nose - and a bit in the mouth.  Pardillo, from Spain, produces wines a bit like Chardonnay - slightly neutral but with a bigger body.  They typically have citrus and acid, and a pleasant bitter nuttiness (think raw almonds).  Greek Retsina - wine to which pine resin has been added to grape must during fermentation - is not for everyone.  It has a lemony, Pinesol aroma that is not universally agreeable.  But, a good retsina has a compelling flavor of pine needles and lemon with acid that cuts through juicy, fatty meats.  It also pairs exceptionally well with grilled seafood and shellfish - to which lemon is nearly always a welcome addition.

    Of course, there are MANY MORE wines that go well with grilling - including a bevy of rosé wines.  Just pick one and relax - its summer!

    The “Wining Archaeologist” strikes again!  In this podcast, Jill and Phill chat about Retsina and Savatiano - two Greek whites.  Find the whole “Time Out with Phillip Silverstone” show here.

    Restina - love it?

    Retsina, or Ρετσίνα as it is written in Greek, is a wine of character.  Strong character.  It has notes of pine resin, one of its ingredients.  Pine resin?  Why, yes.  Resin from the Pinus halapensis, to be exact. The Pinus halapensis, or Aleppo pine, is grown through the circum-Mediterraean world, including Syria, Lebanon, and Greece. 

    The whole point of the pine resin was to seal the amphorae (left) in which the wines were shipped.  The resin was placed across the wide-mouth of the jar, and also added flavor to the wine.  Now, it is placed into the wine, itself, as an additive.  It helps in preservation, as well as adding its distinctive flavor. 

    The pine flavors are joined by lemon verbena, thyme, and eucalyptus - all pretty strong!  Retsina drinks very well with food, and I think it would be excellent with a plate of grilled sardines.  It would also pair well with two Jet items:  beet salad with walnuts and goat cheese, or Greek Manori cheese with pistachio and honey.  The Manori uses goat’s and sheep’s milk and is very fresh, and very sharp.  It is a great contrast to the Retsina. 

    Currently served on Jet’s by-the-glass menu.

    New Flight: Crazy-sounding and Crisp Whites

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