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. Now there is not much price difference between local and imported drinks.
Before 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 the chance, visit the Limassol wine festival. There you will see 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.
Cyprus’ Winemaking History
The tradition of winemaking in Cyprus can be traced back many thousands of years, and it is claimed that Cyprus was the first winemaker in the Mediterranean.
There is a wine museum in the village of Erimi that gives a fascinating insight into the winemaking 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, flavor, and complexity.
Cypriot Specialty Spririts
One of the most famous and favored wines of Cyprus is Commandaria. The history of this wine goes back to the 12th century when it is claimed that Richard the Lionheart enjoyed it at his wedding in Cyprus. He pronounced it “The wine of kings and the king of wines.”
Commandaria is a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes. The grapes can be seen laid out in the sun on the foothills of the Troodos mountains.
Of course, it’s 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. It is also used by locals for medicinal purposes such as rubbing it onto the chest to help with winter coughs and colds.
Brandy is also locally produced. It is an excellent drink on its own, or as often used to make Cyprus’ famous ‘Brandy Sour Cocktail.’
Ouzo is another famous and traditional Cyprus drink. This spirit is produced by double distillation of selected dry wines and seeds of anise.
Cyprus also produces excellent beer. This is due to the mild climate that produces rich wheat, which is used to brew high-quality light beers (lager beer).