Wines of Turkey, One of the Earliest Places for Wine

Cappadocia vineyard. Photo by Yannick Garcin

Turkey is one of the oldest lands for cultivating the grapevine for wine. The history of wine production in Anatolia dates back to 4500 years ago, to the Bronze Age. The Hittites were the first people to make laws and regulations about viticulture and wine making. The Euphrates and Tigris Rivers were used to carry wines of Eastern Turkey to the Assyrian and Sumerian lands.

In the tumulus type grave of King Midas of the Phrygians who ruled in the 8C BC, the remains of wine and bread were discovered.

The biggest temples dedicated to Dionysus, God of wine, were in the Aegean Region of Turkey.

Bozcaada wines. Photo by Volkan Çelik

What is the current situation?

Turkey is the fourth largest producer of grapes in the world; however, the majority of these grapes are used to eat and in producing raisins instead of producing wine. Only 2% is used for wine.

Turkey is divided into 5 regions for wine production. The brands that I list below are among the recommended wines and have been chosen from those most readily available in Turkey.

Recommended wines of Turkey
by Murat Yankı, wine specialist

(A) Average (AA) Above Average (AAA) Much Above Average

Marmara Region (Around the Marmara Sea)

  • Local red grapes: Papazkarası and Adakarası
  • International red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Gamay
  • Local white grapes: Vasilaki and Çavuş
  • International white grapes: Semillon

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Sarafin Merlot (AAA), Doluca Antik (AA), DLC Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot (AA), Kavaklıdere Angora (A)
  • White: Sarafin Chardonnay (AAA), Doluca Antik (AA) and Villa Doluca (A)

Aegean Region (Western Anatolia)

  • Local red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Syrah
  • Local white grapes: Misket and Sultaniye
  • International white grapes: Chardonnay

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Sevilen Syrah (AA), Sevilen Majestik (A) and DLC Syrah (AA)
  • White: Kavaklıdere Angora (A), Doluca DLC Sultaniye-Emir (AA) and Sevilen Chardonnay (AA)
  • Rose: Sevilen R. (A)

Pamukkale Region (Inner Aegean)

  • Local red grapes: Çalkarası
  • International red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
  • International white grapes: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Anfora Cabernet Sauvignon (AA), Anfora Syrah (AA)
  • White: Anfora Senfoni (A), Anfora Chardonnay (A)
  • Rose: Kavaklıdere Lal (A)

Central Anatolia (Ankara, Cappadocia and Tokat )

  • Local red grapes: Kalecik Karası
  • International red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
  • Local white grapes: Emir (from Cappadocia), Narince (from Tokat)

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Kavaklıdere Ancyra (AA), DLC Kalecik Karası (AA)
  • White: Doluca Nevflah (A), Kavaklıdere Çankaya (A), Kavaklıdere Narince (AAA)

Eastern Turkey (Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in North Mesopotamia)

Although there is no white wine production in this region, the red wines are among the best-bodied wines of Turkey.

  • Local red grapes: Boğazkere, Öküzgözü

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Terra Öküzgözü-Boğazkere (AA), Kavaklıdere Yakut (A), Doluca Kav (AA)
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