Wine styles vary enormously from the rich sweet dessert Commandaria to the lightest, crisp dry white and from the delicate rose to the robust full-bodied red.
White Wines White wines fall into one of three categories Dry, Medium and Sweet, and each has a distinctive taste.
- Dry, light and crisp, the range tends to be softer than dry European wines, as Cyprus grapes are full and lush. Three hours is about the average time of chilling. Ideal for starters and fish dishes as well as veal and poultry.
- Medium, for slightly fragrant taste. Dry to Medium can be drunk at any time of day with or without food and is best suited as an accompaniment to fish, pates, ham, veal, duck, goose and chicken.
- Sweet and sunny, for people with a taste for the sweet. Enjoy it on its own or with a dessert. Succulent Cyprus grapes have a high enough sugar content to satisfy the sweetest tooth.
Rose WinesRose delights are made from local red grapes and fermented in pressure tanks to retain their natural aroma. They have a delicate character and mellow taste. Available in light dry and medium sweet, rose wines are best slightly chilled.
Commandaria - The Apostle of Wines
Perharps, this is the oldest wine in the world. In fact, no one know how old this Commandaria sweet red wine is. Its fame and tradition goes as far back as the history of the island and it was described as one of the three major sources of wealth: Wine – Copper – Timber.
There is evidence that during the thousand years or more of worshipping Aphrodite with the annual festival and pilgrimages, this very sweet Cyprus wine was one of the special offerings.
Commandaria was described by many writers as Sweet Cypriot Nama – Hesiod, the ancient Greek poet, describes in his Works and Days how this special sweet wine is made “when Orion and Sirius come into mid-heaven, and rosy-fingered Dawn sees Arcturus, cut off the grape-clusters and bring them home. Show them to the sun ten days and ten nights, then cover them over the fire and on the sixth day, draw off into vessels the gifts of joyful Dionysus…”
Its present name dates back to the Middle Ages and the period of the Crusades. Cyprus, being close to the Holy Land, soon attracted the Crusaders and it was Richard Coeur de Lion who landed on the island in 1191, and then sold it to the Order of the Knights Templar. They divided Cyprus into Commanderies and near Limassol, at Kolossi where a famous castle was built, they made their headquarters. Thus the name Commandaria was transferred to the wine produced in the area. They and their successors, the Knights of the Order of St. John, produced this delightful wine in large quantities and exported it to many European and English courts where it became very popular.
In a wine competition organised by the King of France Philippe Augustus, Commandaria was crowned The Apostle of Wines.
Strict cultivation and production controls ensure continuity of quality and taste. The grapes come from the denominated area of Commandaria, on the eastern slops of Troodos mountain range, making it an “Appellation of origin” wine. Mavro and Xynisteri grow in volcanic soils, poor and thin, thus producing a low yield but of high quality. The overripe grapes are hand picked and then left to dry in the sun, on rooftops, until the water evaporates and the sugar is concentrated in the berries. The grapes are then pressed and the resultant syrup like juice is left to ferment naturally. Over generations of making this wine, the natural yeasts of the region have adapted to the specific nature of the juice, thus the fermentation ceases at precisely the right balance of alcohol and residual grape sugar. The wine is pumped to old oak barrels and left to mature for as long as possible.
How to Enjoy it
Simply enjoy Commandaria as a dessert wine in the same way it has been savoured through the centuries. Drink it:
- Before a meal for that warm, sweet taste.
- After a meal with a sweet, fresh fruit, dried nuts or coffee.
- All through the day or evening – on its own or with ice for a cool taste.
A very popular type of wine from native Cyprus grapes with its natural sweetness, nurtured by unfailing sunshine and the warmth of the breeze. The result is a luscious tasty grape which is perfect for the full-strength. The grapes are picked at their peak using a technique pioneered in Cyprus and after pressing and racking the juice is refined by chilling. After fermentation come the final stages: fortification with fine grape brandy and many years of maturing in oak casks.
These are well known Cyprus grape products of higher alcohol content and distinctive identity.
Brandy is distilled from fine wines and matured for many years in casks. During maturation brandies acquire a light brown colour and pleasant flavour. Some Cyprus brandies are equal to the world’s finest.
Zivania is an authentic Cyprus aperitif, produced on the island for centuries. It is distilled from local grape varieties using the same traditional techniques as practised in the past. It is a unique spirit, served ice-cold with savoury snacks, nuts and dried fruit.