Wine varietals and styles


By Halliday Wine Companion

12 Jul, 2023

Here's your guide to the Greek grape variety, xinomavro [ksee-noh-mah-vrow].

Go to section: Xinomavro tasting characteristics | Origins of xinomavro | How to pair food with xinomavro | Serving temperature for xinomavro

Xinomavro is a thick-skinned, sun-loving red grape indigenous to northern Greece. Although one of around 200 varieties native to the Aegean nation, xinomavro is one of the more well-known exports (alongside agioritoko, assyrtiko and malagousia). While off-dry, sparkling and rosé examples can be found, it’s predominantly used to make dry red wines with outstanding ageability.

Vineyard in GreeceXinomavro is a red grape indigenous to northern Greece.

Xinomavro tasting characteristics

With a name that roughly translates to ‘sour/acid’ (xino) and ‘black’ (mavro), you’d be right in assuming xinomavro can be a big wine. Think high tannin, high acid, super ripe, and you’re on the right track.

Signature characters range from stewed raspberries to plums, ripe tomato, tobacco and baking spices. Traditionally, tannins have been tamed by heavy oak use, but a new wave of winemakers has been pulling back for a more nuanced approach. Much like we’re seeing in Australia with shiraz versus syrah. 

Origins of xinomavro

Xinomavro is grown all over Greece, but the most sought-after wines hail from Náoussa – both a region of Macedonia and a protected designation of origin (the latter since 1971). The best vineyards are situated on the slopes of the Verimo mountains, where higher altitudes provide cool relief in a warm growing region.

Try these examples from Greece: 2021 Thymiopoulos Young Vines Xinomavro (Náoussa), 2019 Thymiopoulos ATMA Red Xinomavro Mandilaria (Macedonia), 2018 Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro (Náoussa), 2022 Kir-Yianni L’Esprit Du Lac Rosé (Amyndeon).

The grill at MordrelleXinomavro loves to barbecue.

How to pair food with xinomavro 

Fire up the grill, because xinomavro loves to barbecue – think charred veg, juicy steaks and fat sausages, alongside your favourite herb-laden, olive oil-based Greek dishes. 

Serving temperature for xinomavro

The ideal serving temperature for assyrtiko is 12–15 degrees.

Image credit: Mordrelle Wines.