If you are having a holiday in Cyprus and like to partake of a drink or two, or perhaps wine with your meals, then you will find many of the International brand names in wines and spirits are available in most restaurants, pubs and clubs. Cyprus used to be expensive for imported spirits, however since joining the EU, prices have come down considerably, and there is not much price difference between local and imported drinks.
Before automatically looking for your regular brand however, we advise you to try some of the local wines and spirits that Cyprus has to offer. If you have ever been to the Limassol wine festival then you will know the extensive range of quality wines that are locally produced. Cyprus has a large vine growing and wine producing area, in particular in the Limassol region. The tradition of wine making in Cyprus can be traced back many thousands of years, and it is claimed that Cyprus was the first wine maker in the Mediterranean. There is a wine museum in the village of Erimi that gives an interesting insight into the wine making history of Cyprus, and many wine companies offer wine tours and tastings. Dionysus (also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans) was the mythical Greek god of wine. He was also known as the Liberator (Eleutherios), freeing one from one's normal self, by madness, ecstasy, or wine. You may see / hear the name of Dionysus in this region quite often, unsurprisingly.
Some Cyprus wines made from old, traditional grape varieties have achieved awards in International wine competitions, as have generic wines produced from International and cosmopolitan grape varieties. Often the widely planted local grape varieties are blended with International varieties to enhance body, flavour and complexity.
One of the most famous and favoured wines of Cyprus is Commandaria, the history of which goes back to the 12th century, when it is claimed that Richard the Lionheart enjoyed it greatly at his wedding in Cyprus, and he pronounced it "The wine of kings and the king of wines." Commandaria is a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes, which can be seen laid out in the sun on the foothills of the Troodos mountains.
Of course its not only wine that Cyprus produces, but also spirits such as Zivania, which is produced by distillation of grapes. Zivania is protected under EU regulations as a product unique to Cyprus, and is also used by locals for medicinal purposes such as rubbing it onto the chest to help with winter caughs and colds. Brandy is also locally produced, and it is a fine drink on its own, or as often used to make Cyprus' famous 'Brandy Sour Cocktail'. Ouzo is another famous and traditional Cyprus drink, which is produced by double distillation of selected dry wines, together with seeds of anise.
Cyprus also produces some excellent beers due to the mild climate that produces rich wheat, which is used to brew high quality light beers (lager beer).