Wine Culture in Turkey

Good wines are produced in Turkey for centuries as it is one of the most ancient wine-producing countries in the world. Turkish regions adjacent to Georgia and Iran played a major role in promoting wine culture in the country. Some people are of the opinion that Noah first planted vineyards and drank wine after the flood in a Turkish region. Archeological evidence suggests that wine in Turkey is produced about 7000 years ago. Furthermore, it is assumed that the oldest civilizations such as Hattians and Hittites, produced wines in the Anatolia region at that time. The wine was a significant part of their social life. They also had Gods and festivals, expressing the importance of wine in their cultural and religious life.

The culture of wine production and consumption was a part of Ottoman rulers. It played a crucial role in the history of Turkey and was one of the factors involved in the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Selim II, born in 1524 AD, was the son of the famous Ottoman ruler, Suleyman The Magnificent. He was famous for his love with wine and is known as Selim the Drunkard.

Also read: The Importance of Wine in the Soviet Union’s Food Regime (SFR)

Ottoman Empire expanded to its maximum size during his father’s rule, but the Drunkard ruler had the least interest in the rule and handed over power to his ministers. He was focused only on drinking quality wines, which resulted in the downfall of the Ottoman empire. Apart from its impact on the downfall of the empire, Wine production flourished during the last period of Ottoman Empire, and Turkey exported wines to Europe during the Phylloxera epidemic. Wine production was significantly reduced after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. However, the wine industry was re-established and modernized in the 1980s.

Wine Culture in Turkey

Vinkara vineyards in the Anatolia region. Photo by Nicole Hakli.

Currently, Turkey has 502,000 hectares grapes producing land. The area is more than 10 times grape producing land in America. However, wine production in Turkey is very low and is only the fourth largest wine producer in the world. The statistics shows that most of the grapes cultivated land produces table grapes.

Turkey’s climate is favorable for grapes production throughout the country and has 600 indigenous grape varieties.. Although, it lacks the specific wine appellations but has wine regions distributed in the country. Aegean Cost, Marmara and Anatolia are famous wine-producing regions. Aegean Cost contributes half of the wine production of the country. Marmara carries out two-thirds of wine production and Anatolia is the oldest wine region in Turkey.

Wine is a part of Turkish culture and cuisine. It is easily available throughout the country in shops, markets and supermarkets. Wine is available to legal age (18 years) at the pre-defined time of the day. Hotels, bars and restaurants serve 24 hours a day. . Raki is the national alcoholic drink oI Turkey. When water or ice cubes are added, it turns white. That’s why known as Lion Milk.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute,74% of Turkish above 15 years abstain from alcohol  The same study suggested that 90 % of Turkish women between 25-74 years never consumed alcohol during their lifetimes. Similarly, men between 24-74 years never drank alcohol throughout their lives.

Did you know: Only after Atatürk came to power in 1923 and ensured the separation of religion and state, as well as fundamentally reforming the country in general, was viticulture revived on a larger scale. Atatürk was a wine enthusiast who advocated for the establishment of private wineries. Phylloxera, persistent rural exodus, and a large wave of emigration caused a severe slump in viticulture between 1960 and 1980, with many areas no longer cultivated.

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