Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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The Alambic apparatus for the distillation of zivania

The Alambic apparatus for the distillation of zivania, consists of a bronze cauldron in which a mixture of pressed grape skins, stalks and pips (the zivana) boil, a heavy semi spherical lid made of metal or fired clay, a long tube passing through a large jar filled with cold water, and a vase for collecting the eau de vie. The alambic is usually placed on a simple hearth outdoors. Zivania, the strong eau de vie, is produced with the distillation of fermented grape pulp discarded during the wine-making process. The steam from the boiling zivana escapes through the tube, which is immersed in cold water. It is thus condensed and zivania is collected in a jug placed at the end of the tube.


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Cyprus Wine Museum
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Zivania, which is a strong local spirit contains up to 52% alcohol. They used the distillation method to produce it and to make it they took all the remaining from the grapes -the skin, the seeds and the cluster- and boiled it in a cauldron, then the steam went through the pipe and then through the pythari, which contained cold water, and so the steam turned into liquid. Zivania.
There are many varieties of indigenous vines here in Cyprus; among the white ones the most famous is the Xynisteri. Other varieties are Malaga, spourtiko, Promara, Moschato, Katomilitiko Kanella and Morokanella. And among the red is the local black and the Maratheftiko. The Maratheftiko is the best vine on the island and also the rarest with only one percent among the rest; and the local black is the most common with 70%. The rest are Ofthalmo, Lefkada. Vlouriko and Vamvakada.
In the Roman Period we come across to the mosaic floors from the House of Dionysus in Pafos, who was the God of wine. On one of them you can see Dionysus offering Acme who was a Nymph some grape. And next to this you can see the story of the first wine drinkers. Icarios, the king of Athens had invited Dionysus to his house and the God in return taught him the art of making wine. Icarios on his way back home, he found two villagers and he offered them some wine. At first they loved it. but then they got so drunk that they thought he had poisoned them and they killed him.
In Cyprus you will find jugs from the Cypro-Archaic Period and also from the Bronze Age. A lot of items are made out of bronze as Cyprus was full of bronze mines; and the name Cyprus came out of the word Cuprum which in Latin means bronze.
Since the Byzantine period, wine became really important for Christianity. Vineyards symbolize the world and faith, while wine symbolizes the blood of Christ. The Symbolisms of the Holy Trinity consists of wine, bread and olive oil. Here in Cyprus at the Orthodox Church we use Commandaria as the wine for the Holy Communion. The priest blesses it and turns it into the blood of Jesus. In the songs of songs David says: "My beloved is unto me like a cluster of Cyprus grapes is in the vineyards of En-Gedi."
In the museum you will find a mural made by Tayler, which represents the visit of Peter A' to London in order to ask for financial support from the other European kings so as to organize a crusade. At this Kind of feasts, all the guests sat on one side so as the serving was easier and so they could watch the show. Some of the wines that were served were from Cyprus and they are reported first. The King of Cyprus took a bottle of wine as a present to the king of England Edward III: and when he tasted it he said: 'This is the king of wines', and when he asked what it was the answer he got was, Commandaria. Etienne De Lusignan, who was an historian describes in his own words Cyprus. He also describes Commandaria as a "wine of great excellence".
The Kolossi castle is a big part of the history of Commandaria. This is where the military headquarters of La Grande Commandarie of St. John were and like we also said Commandaria took its name after it. Commandaria was also said to be the apostle of wines, a pope among them.


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