Good wine has been
produced in Turkey for millennia,
and still is. You can see how it's made on wine and vineyard tours.
Several of Anatolia's climatic
regions, inluding the Marmara and Aegean,
the East around
Elazığ, and the Southeast near Diyarbakır,
some with volcanic soil (such as Cappadocia),
are suitable for producing wine grapes.
In the past, the grapes have mostly
been local traditional varieties such
as Öküzgözü (Ox-eye)
from Elazığ and Boğazkere from
but Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon
blanc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan,
and Alicante are now
being used for premium wines as well.
The standards were set for Turkish
wines in the mid-1900s by the Kavaklıdere and
vineyards. Simple table wines such
as Kavak and
the better Çankaya (white), Dikmen and
the better Yakut (red), Lâl (rosé/blush)
and Villa Doluca (white and
red) are drinkable and not the most
West of Tekirdağ (which is west of Istanbul in Thrace; map), are numerous vineyards such as Barbare taking advantage of the moderate climate, sandy soil, and abundant sunshine.
the Kocabağ (KOH-jah-bah)
and Turasan (TOO-rah-sahn)
labels are two to try. I prefer the Kocabağ,
especially their Öküzgözü and Cabernet
Sauvignon reds. More...
Tatlısert, by the
way, is a fortified red similar to
In the 1990s, after changes in the
laws governing alcoholic beverages,
small local vintners began to make
good quality. The best wines are often
from the well-run vineyards of
wealthy industrial and commercial families.
Discerning (and wealthy)
Turkish wine-drinkers are only a small
market, and the conservative government
has levied high taxes on alcoholic
beverages, so sipping wine with dinner
At dinner in a famous Istanbul restaurant, main course plates were
priced around TL24, but the cheapest bottle of wine was TL60, with others
as high as TL125.
Though table wines such
as the red Kavaklidere Dikmen
and basic Doluca labels
sell for TL15
in shops, and mid-priced Villa
Doluca and Kavaklıdere's Çankaya white
Barbare Vineyard's premium wines and other upscale wines
such as Kavaklidere's red Yakut and Egeo wines,
Ancyra and Vinart appellation/vintage
or more in a shop, and 2-1/2 to 3 times
as much in a restaurant.
Prices for imported wines can
be even higher, although Chilean vintages sometimes compete with Turkish ones on price. The inexpensive wine
you're used to drinking at home may
be a premium-priced wine in Turkey.
High taxes also
play their part in the high price of
wine. The tax just about doubles the
cost of a bottle of inexpensive table
wine. In part because of the high taxes,
I'm told there is a large illegal,
untaxed and uncontrolled wine industry that
competes unfairly with the legitimate
vintners and may put the health of
the wine-drinking public in danger. More...
Although the governing Islamist
AKP party denies that it acts against
those who drink alcoholic beverages,
the cost of enjoying a glass of wine—or
indeed any alcoholic beverage—has
risen dramatically during their tenure
During the holy month of Ramazan,
alcoholic beverages are less in evidence,
following traditional custom.
—by Tom Brosnahan