Cyprus Wine


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Wine growing areas of Cyprus

Limassol is the centre of the wine industry in Cyprus.  It hosts the annual wine festival, which is the biggest piss-up of the year, and outdoes even the carnival.. It happens on the 27th August to the 8th September and is well worth attending if you wish to get very drunk, there are thousands of litres of free booze on offer, and thousands of people attending, Unless of course you are a wine buff, in which case it is plonk city for a week.

If your interest is 'wine' then we have the expert for you. Patrick Skinner has written a book on the subject of Cyprus wine, and we are  lucky to have had him writing for us in these pages. To go directly to his wine opinions.
There you will find articles entitled;

Wine growing is one of the oldest crafts on the island, and a third of the agriculturists here are involved in the production of the noble grape.

Wine is far older than recorded history. It emerges with civilization itself from the Eastern countries. The evidence from tablets and papyri and Egyptian tombs fills volumes. Mankind, as we recognize ourselves, working, quarrelling, loving and worrying, comes on the scene with the support of a jug of wine.

wine map.gif (19148 bytes)The Spread of the Vine

Starting in Caucasia or Mesopotamia (1) in   6000 BC it was cultivated in Egypt and Phoenicia 2 in about 3000 BC. By 2000 BC it was in Greece 3 and by 1000 BC it was in Italy, Sicily and North Africa 4. In the next 500 years it reached at least Spain, Portugal and the south of France 5 and probably southern Russia as well. Finally it spread with the Romans into northern Europe 6, getting as far as Britain.

The best grapes are grown on the Southern slopes of the Troodos range, where the rain is annually more regular, and then also on the coastal plains.  It was written in 1904 that Cyprus produces wheat, barley, cotton, silk, sponges, gum mastic and immense quantities of wine. Things have not changed so much after all, she still ranks as one of the top producers per capita.  There are many village wines produced in the mountains and the grape is distilled into brandy. The skins, stalk and residue are distilled into a spirit called Zivania, an eau de vivre.

Palouze is a jellified non-alcoholic substance made from grape juice and flour and eaten as a blamanche, Sudjuko is a solidified version of Palouze, into which strings of almond nuts are dipped, it then cools and solidifies and you will see them hanging in various shops and stalls.

Then there are the big boys, these are Etko, Keo, Loel and Sodap, all are based in Limassol and are open to visitors, during normal business hours, for tours. hic.

My particular favourite is the dessert wine known as Commanderia. It was first made in the 12th century by    the Knights of St.John. They named it Comanderia. after their commandery of Colossi.  It is made from 9 black "Mavron" grapes to one white "Xynisteri" grape and has a rich dark and heavy sweetness to it. It has been compared to other dessert wines , but I think there is no comparison anywhere. It is the most excellent  beverage also to cook with , and a tomato sauce containing it transforms into a poem, so ladies be advised, take a bottle home with you for your kitchen and you will just have to return next year to replenish your stocks.

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    Commandaria, our favourite


Monastery wines can be excellent. Ayios Andronikos and Ayios Ellias in particular. You will find them if you are lucky.
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The types of grape grown here are : Mavron, Ofthalmo and Maratheftiko . (black)   and Alexandria Muscatel, Xynisteri (white)  They are naturally resistant to philloxera and never suffer from it.


The sherry of Cyprus is also excellent and well worth taking home with you,

The sparkling wine like a champagne to try is "Duc de Nicosie"
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The Brandies of Cyprus deserve a special mention here. There are many different strengths . Try Anglias as a nice daytime drink. VSOP  or 5 kings as an after dinner companion.   A friend of ours who had the Peristiani Brandy factory in Cyprus would add his secret ingredient to the barrels and they would then wait 12 or 15  years to taste the finished product. Cheers Gogo.

Brandy Sour has almost become the national drink, and can be delicious if made properly.

My Recipe. (with a little help over the years)    

Brandy Sour

Smear the rim of a tall glass with a wedge of lemon then hold the glass upside down in a saucer of sugar.  The glass should now be sugared.

Pour in 3 fingers of brandy   Half a finger of Lanitis lemon squash (or make your own by squeezing some fresh lemons, place in a saucepan with enough sugar to almost double the quantity, simmer gently until the sugar is all melted and then allow to cool slightly before bottling in clean bottles - this will keep for about six weeks or longer if refrigerated, makes a great lemon squash for the kids, full of vitamin C ) Half a finger of lime juice or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional) A dash of angostura bitters (or cocktail drops) fill up the glass with soda water -stir,  pop in a slice of lemon and a cherry,  and drink. mmmmm.

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We have tours of the factory every working day. 

Visit Etko's Home page by pressing here:

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  Some 'Did you knows' about wine,
 its history and its production.

The world today has some 20 million acres  of vineyards. They produce an annual crop of more than 25,000 million bottles of wine; enough, if there are 5,000 million people on earth, to give the world's entire population five bottles a year each.

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Europe still accounts for over three-quarters of the worlds wine production. Many Eastern countries have considerable vineyards but produce very little.  wine.

Italy and France remain far and away the biggest producers (with Spain now in third place) - but no longer the biggest consumers by their traditional massive margin. From 1968 to 1991 the French average consumption dropped by nearly two-thirds: from an annual 150 bottles per head to 67. Italian wine-drinking is dwindling almost as fast. Modern life has no place for the heroic quantities working people used to put away. A car-filled world inevitably means drinking much less - but also better. Expenditure on wine has risen as consumption has fallen.

The wines of Greece herself, (Now winning international prizes), were lavishly praised and documented by her poets. There was even a fashionable after-dinner game in Athens which consisted of throwing the last few mouthfuls of wine in your cup into the air, to hit a delicately balanced dish on a pole. Smart young things took coaching in the finer points of 'kottabos'. But such treatment of the wine, and the knowledge that it was almost invariably drunk as what we would call 'a wine cup', flavoured with herbs, spices and honey and diluted with water (sometimes even seawater) seems to question its innate quality.

                wine cop, greek.

That the wines of different islands of the Aegean were highly prized for their distinct characters is indisputable. Greeks industrialised winegrowing in southern Italy, Etruscans in Tuscany and further north, and Romans followed.

Much was written about wine and winemaking in ancient Rome. The greatest writers, even Virgil, wrote instructions to winegrowers. One sentence of his - 'Vines love an open hill' - is perhaps the best single piece of advice which can be given to a winegrower. How good was Roman wine? Some of it apparently had extraordinary powers of keeping, which in itself suggests that it was well made. It was frequently concentrated by heating, and even smoked to achieve what must have been a Madeira-like effect. On the other hand Pliny, whose Natural History contains a complete text-book on wines and winemaking, recommends the boiling of concentration of must in vessels made of lead, 'to sweeten it'. The resulting lead oxide poisoning must have been excruciating. The colic's, and eventual blindness, insanity and death that resulted were never connected with their cause; pains were even put down to bad vintages. Rome's great vintages were discussed and even drunk for longer than seems possible; the famous Opimian - from the year of the consulship in Opimius, 121 BC - was being drunk when it was 125 years old.

The Romans had all that is necessary for ageing wine. They were not limited to earthenware amphora's like the Greeks - although they used them. They had barrels just like modern barrels and bottles not unlike modern bottles. The art of glass-making came to Rome from Syria. Most Italians of 2,000 years ago probably drank wine very like their descendants today; young, rather roughly made, sharp or strong according to the vintage. The quantities they drank, though, were prodigious; the Roman orgy is by no means a flight of later imagination.

Here is something interesting we came across to make you feel better about over doing it

Study: Wine Drinkers At Lower Risk For Some Cancers

SAN FRANCISCO (SW) -- Researchers found that wine drinkers are at a "significantly reduced risk for four types of cancer," a scientist said in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Separately, scientists from INSERM, the French National Institute for Health, report that moderate amounts of alcohol appear to help improve brain function in older women.

In the Cancer Institute study, Marilie Gammon, lead researcher, said the study found cancer risk unaffected by all alcohol drinking, but there was a 40 percent decrease in risk to cancers of the stomach and the oesophagus associated with wine drinking.

"If the reduction in risk is real, there may be a protective ingredient in wine, such as resveratrol, that is not present in beer or liquor," researchers wrote.

The work of the team of researchers represents the largest population based, case-control study of this kind conducted to date, encompassing all incident cases of cancer of the oesophagus and stomach identified in three geographic areas.

The French study, Epidemiology of Vascular Aging (EVA), was reported in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"In conclusion, this analysis did not suggest any negative effect of low to moderate alcohol intake on cognitive functioning in older adults," the researchers wrote. "Moreover, we found that alcohol consumption was associated with better cognitive scores in women."

For both women and men, most of the total alcohol intake came from wine. Older women who drank the equivalent of two or more glasses of wine daily were 2.5 times more likely to score in the top 10 percent on neuro-psychological test scores than female non-drinkers. Other women who drank less than two glasses daily were 1.7 times more likely to score in the top 10 percent than their teetotalling counterparts.

Researchers said that while moderate consuming women were found to score higher on these tests measuring memory, learning, and problem-solving skills, cognitive scores for men had no association with alcohol consumption.

"The most likely interpretation of our findings is that in women-but not in men-low to moderate alcohol consumption is a marker for general well being or for behavioural patterns associated with good cognitive functioning," researchers said.

In March of this year, another French study found moderate wine consumption to be associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia in both women and men, and other studies have found moderate alcohol consumption to be associated with improved cognitive function in elderly populations.


The growing of the grape for wine and other alchoholic and non alchoholic beverages in Cyprus is one of the oldest recorded activities on the island. Famous for our Commanderia, which is a sweet desert type wine produced by the Knights Templar, ( notably similar is the altar wine used by the church for the  Holy Communion ceremony, )  recent changes in grape types have resulted in a boosting of the quality of the local wine.

More recently I discovered a delightful organic red wine called Agravani. I put down a case for 5 years and after lesser wines had turned to vinegar, my Agravani was better than ever! Is that the sign of a good wine?

Drink on .. but please don't drive !

We were promised a wine of the month section, which is below, however, it is exactly that, one month!


Wines of the Month Cyprus Wine

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