For the Love of Wine

For the Love of Wine

The Secret of the Grapes of Cyprus

This is the title of a wonderful book for anyone who appreciates Cyprus Wine. Produced by Christine Sternberg and Marcos Gittis, it gives a good account of the world of wine in Cyprus. A must read for the wine-lover, holidaying in Cyprus.

Did you know that wine has been produced in Cyprus for over 5500 years, 1500 years earlier than it was in most other Mediterranean countries? This is one of the interesting facts to be found in the book. Christine goes on to refer to ancient references to Cyprus wine from Hessiod and Homer. The production of the island’s famous Commandaria wine, it is suggested,  has an unbroken tradition dating back to 1100BC and there are references in Homer to a Cyprus wine produced with the same principal of sun dried grapes as it is today.   

The book covers in great detail all aspects of the Cyprus wine-making tradition from the planting of new vines with a “scala” to the almost entirely manual harvesting. The word “scala” is also the Greek for “ladder”, but in a wine-making context it refers to the pronged wooden tool with which one bashes the generally stony ground to make holes into which one plants new vine roots grown out of previous years cuttings.

The connection of religion with Cyprus wine is covered with an account of wine produced in Cyprus Monasteries such as in the Chryssorrogiatissa Monastery and the Kosher wine that has been produced by Jewish Rabbis under the tutelage of Christakis Lambouris of the Lambouri Winery in Kato Platres.

We also look at wine-related products like the distilled Zivania (the Cypriot version of Raki or Grapa), like Soutzoukos, Palouze and Epsima. Epsima is unfermented grape juice, palouze is a blancmange-like dessert produced from flower and water. Soutzoukos is that sweet produced by dipping stringed almonds into palouze in the making. The first time you come to Cyprus you will probably wonder what they are when you see them hanging like Hawayan necklaces in market stalls.

Then there is a lovely section on wine quotes. My favourite two are:

“Some drink wine while others get drunk” and

“A poor winemaker can ruin a good grape,

But even an excellent wine maker isn’t going

To make a great wine from inferior grapes. “

If you love wine, and live in, or are visiting Cyprus, this book is a must-read. It is published by CIPS Ltd, The Cyprus International Press Service. It can be bought at a number of bookshops including the one at Larnaca airport. You can also order it online Alternatively, you can obtain a Free copy when you go on  a Cyprus wine tour of two or more days duration in 2016 or 2017 with Wines and Tours Ltd.

Photos by Marcos Gittis. Video Clip by Bill Warry