How 50 GGW arose 

The concept of 50 Great Greek Wines (50 GGW) slowly matured in my mind as a natural development of my passion and expertise on the Greek vineyard. Getting to know Greek producers, talking to them and tasting their wines led me to share their problems and concerns. Our predominant common concern was how to make Greek wine more recognizable internationally and help it avoid the generic category of ‘The Others’. I refused to compromise with the rather sad reality, as I believed in the existence of value and quality and that these needed to be showcased.

After all, this was the main reason for which I started www.karakasis.mw. I considered it a first step in strengthening the voice of Greek producers internationally. My articles are always inspired by the authentic stories of people who want to stand out with their wines. I felt I brought treasures to the surface that needed to be noticed by the world. My joy increased with every finding, every new attempt by an acclaimed or less-known producer who laid his soul in the vineyard and cellar.

What the 50 GGW is not

With a vision of displaying the real value of Greek wine at the core of my thoughts and actions, 50 GGW is the most structured and definitely the most comprehensive sequent of the above-mentioned idea, which transcends the very limited context of a conventional competition of the kind we are familiar with. It is easier for me to begin describing what it is not.

It’s not another wine competition where everyone receives a prize that is usually of little value. This is rather common and not only in the world of wine. Everyone gets a prize, but very few are happy in the end.

It was crucial to us not to repeat this modus operandi, but to actively contribute to the high quality (greatness) of Greek wine – now we all know that Greek wines are great. To achieve this, we pursued a specific and rather different philosophy: nomination of 50 Great Greek Wines with the greatest possible credibility and development of a comprehensive platform that, in its fullest expansion, can serve as a basis for creative dialogue and dynamic promotion of Greek wine as a whole through the winner wines, but also through the promotional activities.

In other words, 50 GGW is a pedestal that promotes the extremely high quality of Greek wine (what we call greatness) that 50 equal winners represent in each of its editions.

Such a powerful strategic goal could not stand without strong values. Values and principles that are central to 50 GGW are Transparency, Cooperation, Progress, Creativity and Competence.

The central ideas

The 50 GGW key points are simple to verbalize but challenging to implement. But, we like to grapple with challenges, so we chose them. Gregory Michailos (Founding Partner & Development Manager) and I believe that:
  • All wines should have an equal starting point – that is why they are bought from the market.
  • All wines must only be evaluated by flexible and homogeneous judging panels that are made up of reputable judges of international acclaim who, besides their status, have hands on knowledge and love for the Greek vineyard.
  • The evaluation process is entirely unimpeachable and leaves absolutely no room for questioning (that is why we have developed special software where the notes and marks of the judges are automatically recorded and registered. Also, we have no commercial relationship with any winery.
  The essence of 50 GGW starts on the day after the announcement of the winners of the different categories with the promotional actions of 50 GGW | More, and we consider that 50 GGW’s reciprocity is exactly what distinguishes it from other competitions. These wines, the 50 best of those that participated, we then communicate in multiple ways to the whole world. For example, in the two previous editions, we implemented the following:
  • We issued a Digital Book with the award-winning wines available to all at https://greatgreekwines.com/ebook-2022/
  • We held events in Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Holland, Hungary, Cyprus and Germany.
  • We collaborated with retailers and wine shops and cooperated with restaurants both within Greece and overseas, the lists of which boast the wines of 50 GGW.
  • All of the above were rewarded with references in the international and domestic press and a three-page featured article about 50 GGW from 2Board, the official airport magazine and an amazing article by Julia Harding on one of the most acclaimed wine sites in the world, jancisrobinson.com the title of which was 50 GGW – Synchronic Excellence.
  • We showcase the greatness of Greek wine with the participation of the 50 GGW in the welcome reception of the Masters of Wine Symposium in Germany, an event with 600+ key people from the wine industry.

50 GGW 2023

Always according to the values and principles set but also in open communication with producers, consumers and the markets, 50 GGW dares a series of changes that will improve the process and bring it closer to its aims.

More specifically:

  • The announcement of the 50 winners will not be made according to placing but alphabetically, thus applying the 50 GGW motto of the second year “Greatness is not a Number”. Each of the wines on the list is to all of us – in real-time –  an illustration of the Greatness of Greek wine.
  • Numbering will only be applied to the winners of each separate category (eg. top 5 Assyrtiko wines). We are renewing these categories and strengthening these from this year’s edition of 50 GGW to make the message of the Greatness of Greek wine even louder.
  • 50 GGW 2023 is opening participation to the very promising Cypriot vineyard, and Cypriot wines will have their own separate category, but can be included in the 50 GGW | The List of the 50 awarded wines.
  • There will be special mention and strengthening of the categories “Value for Money” and “Sweet Wines”. Wines under 12 euros retail price that stand out in the competition process for the quality they offer will be promoted separately as important representatives of a significant category for many consumers. Also, the sweet wine category, which traditionally is another facet of Greatness for both Greece and Cyprus, with important and renowned representatives internationally, will be strengthened in terms of promotion and actions. We would like to remind you that according to the rules we have set sweet wines are not included in the basic list 50 GGW | The List of 50.
  • We are establishing the Greek Wine Lab, a mechanism of planning and materialising comprehensive creative propositions and solutions that will cover the needs of extroversion of all the participants of 50 GGW, both for the Greek and Cypriot markets and for the international markets.

Why are few wines awarded?

“The value of the defeated gives glory to the winner”. In a market where Greek wine is generally excelling, we are trying, through the competition part, to focus on strict criteria and to award few, which gives the prize great value and substance. What is important is that the structure of 50 GGW does not exclude anyone from the idea of Greatness. All have equal chances of being included in the much-desired list, which the previous competition processes have already proved. Nevertheless, what would the significance of the idea be if, in the end, all the wines are awarded, or almost all? The fact that few are awarded gives added value and helps focus the message of excellence we aim at.

Of course, in a market that includes many high-quality wines, the fact that we highlight 50 winners does not mean that there are losers. Our fixed policy is not to announce the wines that do not make it into the list, and strict confidentiality pertains to the participation. This means that participation in the competition section of 50GGW only has winners, and nobody loses from having participated. If the wines do manage to be included in the 50 GGW – The List, they have managed to enter a league, if they do not, they have nothing to lose. Contrarily, each year we work hard for many days to give valuable feedback to all the wines that participate in the competition based on the remarks and notes of the judges. To us, this feedback is a tool for a winemaker who chooses to take advantage of it. It is an integral part of our philosophy and of the “new ideas” that 50 brings to the Greek and Cypriot market from its founding.

Yiannis Karakasis MW