In the Eurovision Song Contest the Greeks offered us a glimpse of what a post-independence Scottish entry might sound like.

An elderly man with a tiny guitar and a twinkle in his eye was surrounded by four guys in kilts wielding trumpets and an accordion, and singing about booze. With their catchy, rabble-rousing chorus – "Alcohol is free" – they trounced the UK and came sixth.

Lest you're planning to go carousing through the Greek islands this summer, I should point out it's not free. Beer and spirits cost less than here, but wine – at least the good stuff – is never cheap because of the way it's produced. A typical Greek vineyard will be planted on a steep, rocky slope and tended by hand to produce half the average yields of France and Italy due to the low rainfall. The altitude of the vineyards and the wonderful natural acidity in native grapes explains why the country's wines can be so fresh and vibrant despite the vines cooking in the heat.

In the past the Greeks were famed for their retsina, a resinous, white "vino collapso" that slipped down OK beside the Aegean Sea but didn't taste half so good back home. That's all history now according to Mary Pateras, who has been importing the country's wines since she married a Greek 11 years ago. "If you go on holiday now," she says, "you don't find retsina in the local tavern. Nobody drinks it any more."

The first real pioneer was Steve Daniels while he was head buyer at Oddbins. Having helped launch Australian wine into the UK, he rose to the challenge of Greece in the late nineties and brought over no less than 40 wines. Many were excellent, but what with their strange-sounding names and the odd residual memory of dodgy retsina, we weren't quite ready for them.

The much slimmed-down chain – with just 10 Scottish stores split between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – has decided to try again, and this time the omens appear much more promising thanks to a country at the other end of the Mediterranean. "Last year we took a conscious decision to take a lead on Portugal," says Oddbins buyer Ana Sapungiu. "With customer tastings, the response has been phenomenal – and our bestselling wine is now a Portuguese red. It goes to show anything's possible."

It also shows we are becoming more relaxed about unfamiliar grapes and blends, at which Portugal excels. For anyone bored with sauvignon, pinot grigio and merlot, Greece offers respite, albeit at slightly greater expense.

Here are a few good choices: for reds, try agiorgitiko, a fragrant, widely-planted grape that produces soft, beaujolais-style wines from Nemea in the Peloponnese peninsula. Or the potentially more exciting xinomavro, ("sour black") with its tangy, olive-like flavours that comes from Macedonia in the north-west. Most famous among the whites is assyrtiko, grown in the black volcanic soil of Santorini to produce bone-dry, citrus-scented wines, but don't ignore the exotic, aromatic moschofilero.

If we get one warm, still day this summer, any of these would make a lovely picnic wine for the beach. After a few glasses you might almost feel closer to Greece – an illusion that will soon be shattered when you dip your toe in the sea.

Fix Hellas

£1.65, Oddbins (5%, 330ml)

Besides reviving its Greek wine range Oddbins has thrown in a couple of beers. Founded by a Bavarian expat in 1864, Fix used to be ubiquitous in Greece. Now relaunched, It's a German-style lager with a trace of that glycerol sweetness you get in Indian beers.

Semeli Feast White 2012

£8.50, Oddbins (11.5%)

I can't say I've drunk much moschofilero, but I might do now after drinking this intensely floral yet wonderfully crisp example from the Peloponnese. It has an almost oriental aroma of rose petals and tangerines, followed by a burst of mouthwatering citrus fruit.

Naoussa Jeunes Vignes 2012

£12.50, Oddbins (13.5%)

While the Semeli red – a straight agiorgitiko – tasted a bit hollow, I was really impressed by this raspberry-scented xinomavro from Macedonia, where average temperatures are similar to Bordeaux. The relatively cool vineyards explain the wine's elegance and its savoury red fruit.