We tend to have more than our share of mishaps when we travel, but my first taste of Greek wine has topped them all
Prior to our first visit to Greece I did minimal research on what to expect. Much of the information seemed to echo repeatedly on how not to look like a tourist and especially how not to look like an American tourist. I told Steve, “We can’t look like American Tourists on our trip.” Practical as ever he retorted, “Why not? We are American Tourists?” “I don’t know,” I replied, “but sounds like it’s a big no no.” “Then you better start eating European Style”, he informed me.
Having no idea what eating European style consisted of, I was eager to learn. Obviously I have not been very observant over the years as I had no idea my husband ate differently than I did. Being the product of British born and raised parents he was taught to eat with his fork in his left hand keeping holding his knife in the right hand. Me of course used my right hand for everything, and if I did use a knife, I set each piece down when not in use. I’m going to tell you this took a lot of practice and I wore a lot of my food on my clothes.
Fast forward to one of our first evening meals in Milos. I was so excited to be in Greece and although a bit skeptical, try out new food. I was especially excited to try my first taste of Greek wine as I had read that Greek wine is different than anywhere else in the world and is very good.
After a busy day of exploring, we walked to a restaurant set along the water in Pollonia. Although it was dark already, the walk wasn’t far and we enjoyed the short, peaceful walk. The restaurant was fairly full and vibrant considering it was October. The aroma of grilled meat and Greek spices filled the air. The waiter set up an additional table along the water for us. I thought that was very sweet. He spoke English so I told him I would like a glass of red Greek wine please and Steve ordered a Lemon Fanta.
As we sat at our table enjoying the cool breeze coming in from the sea. We listened to the lively chatter of the other diners, the clicking of plates and forks and jolly laughter. We were soaking in the ambiance. From the sounds of the people, we appeared to be the only Americans here.
The waiter brought bread and oil, Steve’s Lemon Fanta, a wine glass and a strange pitcher and took our order. Assuming the wine was coming, I waited. It seemed like quite awhile but I continued waiting in anticipation. Finally, as I have little patience, I wondered aloud if the fancy decanter held my wine. Each time I mentioned it, Steve shook his head saying, “I don’t think that’s your wine, dear.” Finally, convincing myself that it was, I tentatively poured the wine in my glass as Steve shot a photo capturing my apprehension. The wine was a beautiful red and smelled inviting, bold and strong. Pleased with myself that I had figured out where my wine was I poured the entire pitcher in my glass commenting to Steve what a generous pour they served as the wine almost filled my glass.
Smiling I prepared to enjoy my first taste of Greek wine. Much to my disappointment, it was clearly not as I anticipated. From the look on my face, Steve could tell something was wrong. I told him, “it’s definitely homemade. It taste like the wine my dad used to make that turned.” Thinking cleansing my palate might help, I broke off a piece of the bread. After savoring the fresh bread, I took a gulp of the wine, unfortunately, it burned all the way down my throat. Choking I said, “This wine taste awful. It’s went bad.”
At that moment the waiter came to our table carrying a bottle of wine, “Where you get the wine,” he asked nodding at my glass. Timidly I pointed to the little pitcher. Horrified, he threw his hands up saying, “that not wine, that for bread. Balsamic wine vinegar to dip the bread not drink.” He switched to Greek and raised his voiced, speaking too his staff as he walked away. I distinctly heard “Amerikanos” more than once.
Three staff members hurried to our table. One removed my glass and also the vinegar decanter. Another brought fresh vinegar, pointedly setting it on a the separate small table out of my reach. The third staff member brought a clean glass and the waiter poured my wine.
The taverna had become quiet, except for Steve, he could not control his laughter. All the other diners were looking at us with amusement. What a site we made! Me duly embarrassed and mortified while Steve was practicality falling out of his chair roaring with laughter. Definitely the free entertainment for the night.
Even though my appetite was much diminished by this point, I was still able to enjoy my meal and also enjoy it. Furthermore, I even finished the real wine and it was quite good. Trying to mind my manners, I asked Steve for verification I was eating European style well enough to not look too touristy. He almost choked and quipped, “Seriously? If you drink their vinegar you are going to look like a tourist regardless of which hand your fork is in.”
Throughout the meal, Steve just couldn’t keep from laughing every few minutes. He found it hilarious that for weeks. After educating him on blending in, I was the one who made a the faux pas. The irony of it all! I still haven’t lived it down. He joked with the staff asking if this has happened a lot, they laughed with him stating, “No, never before, we will laugh about this for years.” By the end of the meal, I was laughing too, although to this day, I still don’t care for balsamic vinegar. Above all, I am glad that none of my other Greek wine experiences were anything like my first taste.
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