There are countless vineyards in Greece. The Greeks love
their wine and drink plenty of it. All together red wine is
more popular than white. There are exceptions obviously but
as a general rule it works. Local wine is quite cheap when
you order it in a taverna but even bottled wine is a lot
cheaper especially if you compare it with prices in the UK
Put it this way, the local wine they offer in tavernas
wouldn't win a medal and to a French most likely is
disgusting, I personally like it a lot especially in certain
areas like southern Crete. It is rather sweet, quite strong
and with 2-3 Euros for half a litre dirt cheap. It comes in
an open carafe. Ask for grassi with a sharp s and you order a
kilo rather than a litre. I never found out why they measure
in kilo rather than in litre but I am sure there is a
perfectly good reason. The idea of a pint never appealed to
me either until I found that with two pints you actually get
more than a litre. I like that.
In very touristy areas like Santorin or Mykonos it might be
difficult to get open wine. If a waiter tells you they don't
have open wine you basically know you are sitting in a
In most places they do have open wine and it is perfectly
fine to ask, if you can try it first. In most small tavernas
they serve their own wine and the owner will gladly drink a
glass with you. If you don't like the wine be polite and
order it anyways. From my experience after a few glasses it
doesn't really make a difference anymore.
Quite common is Retsina. It is white wine with resin and well
put it this way. There are people who like it but most people
find it repulsive. When I first tried it I went to brush my
teeth. Some Greek friends later explained me that there are
huge differences. The cheapest Retsina is generally the best
and it does take a while to get used to it. Drink a bottle
and you will know if you like it.
A popular question is: What is a typical Greek beer? Back in
the old days the answer would have been Heineken and Amstel.
At this stage there are local beers as well but most of them
are disgusting. Mythos is OK but allegedly gives you a bad
hangover. Well at least it is cheap. A bottle in a bar will
cost between 2 and 2.50. Again, if you are in a touristy area
they will charge you 3-4 Euros.
Only recently the Greeks discovered the beauty of draught
beer. It is a lot more common these days.
Ouzo is probably the most famous Greek liqueur. It has a very
distinct taste. It is basically brandy with an Anis taste.
It's quite cheap and strong. You get it everywhere, sometimes
even for free after a meal. Here is a little trick. I find
the taste let's say below average. However, if you mix it
with water (about 50:50) it suddenly tastes quite nice and
refreshing. Get some ice as well and you have a not only nice
and but really cheap long drink.
In most parts of Greece people would drink
Ouzo, Crete is different. They don't consider themselves
Greek anyways. They are Cretans first and to them Athens is
as far away as Brussels. What they have in common: They want
from the Cretans and give nothing in return. And this is how
popular they are.
Of course the Cretans have their own national poison and it
is called Raki. Raki has up to 70% alcohol and you never know
how strong it is. The really nice tasting Raki is the strong
one by the way. Raki with 40% is just wrong. It is distilled
in old local distilleries and there is a good reason. The old
places don't have to pay tax. You would build one now the
government would charge you so they just keep the old ones or
do it illegally in their backyard. Raki is dirt cheap. If you
drink to get drunk that's the one to go for. Don't forget to
drink plenty of water. The stuff is vicious.
Non alcoholic beverages
Besides the standard lemonades like Fanta and Coke you have a
few local brands. As an alternative to beer I'd personally
choose fruit juices. They are really nice in Greece and that
shouldn't surprise you. The more sun an orange get the
sweeter it gets. There is plenty of sun in Greece.
In most places you can drink tab water on some islands you
shouldn't. I can't give a general advice other than: ask the
locals if the water is fine. Bottled water is relatively
cheap. It has to be, after all it is a hot country and
generous supply with drinking water is essential. Always make
sure you drink plenty.
Coffee and tea
Greek coffee is served in tiny cups and quite strong. It's
not bad but quite frankly most people don't particularly like
it. For example it is not filtered. The loose coffee ground
is in the cup. Most people these days are not used to drink
their coffee "Turkish" and find it disturbing.
The taste itself is fine. Greek coffee is served very sweet (gliko),
just sweet (medrio) or without sugar (sketo). Very common is
Nescafe. You can get it as a hot cup of coffee or cold as
Frappe. I initially dismissed the thought to drink cold
coffee but Frappe turned out to be really nice. Especially on
a hot day it is my first choice.
In some places you also get filter coffee. It is called "galiko
kafe". Literally translated that means French coffee.
A good alternative is tea. Don't expect too much though. You
won't get English breakfast tea. Herbal teas from Crete for
example are quite nice. To play it safe I would just bring my
own. I'm sure you are well aware it is almost impossible to
get decent tea on the continent.
Pubs and bars
The coffee house is a traditional place. It used to be the
meeting place for the men, women were not allowed. It is a
bit more chilled out these days and only in remote villages
you will find the men sitting there while the women gather
next to it. You are welcome to join in. Most of the old men
will probably speak some English and they are generally very
In these coffee houses they serve coffee, Raki (on Crete),
wine and cold finger food. Sometimes you even get it for
free. In some Kafenions you will also find a menu. That's
rather unusual though.
Bars and Disco
You'll find bars and discos in all touristy areas and of
course bigger towns. Most of them are western style. Prices
went up a lot in recent years but they are still cheaper than
in the UK and Ireland for example. The clientele depends on
the location. In touristy areas there will be mainly tourists
and may be some local men that want to try their luck with
the tourists. In other areas you'll mainly find young
Greeks. They like to party just as much as the foreigners and
may be even more.