Cyprus Food and Wine Tasting Print

Tasting is Believing

The Cyprus Embassy Trade Center, in collaboration with The Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce Will be hosting a Food & Wine Tasting Reception “Tasting is Believing” Thursday, December 4, 2008, 3:00 - 7:00 PM; Helen Mills Event Space, 137-139 West 26th Street NYC 10001


Discovering the oldest Wines of the World!
5,500 years of winemaking history: Wines of Cyprus showcased in New York

Cyprus is one of the first countries where wine production was practiced: Commandaria, (the oldest named wine in the world) has been produced in Cyprus since at least 1,000 B.C., and is still being made with the same ancient methods.    Amazingly, grapes have been grown for winemaking in Cyprus as far back as 5000 B.C.   Both Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds specifically mention “Ya’ in Kafrisin” (Hebrew for Cypriot wine) as a sacrament in religious rituals during the time of the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem.

There are approximately fifteen indigenous grape varieties in Cyprus of which the most largely cultivated are Xynisteri, Mavro, Ofthalmo and Maratheftiko or Vamvakada.   The white grape variety of Cyprus known as Xynisteri, produces excellent light colored white wine with low alcohol levels(11-11.5% vol.) with low to medium acidity.  It is predominantly found in the regions of the Akamas Laona,  Ambelitis, Vouni Panayias and Pitsilia. This is the only other grape, along with Mavro, that is used for making Commandaria. 

Maratheftiko/Vamvakada is a very rare red variety most densely concentrated through the mountain regions of Paphos and in Pitsilia, where the variety is known as Vambakada.  It gives high quality wines of intense color and full body with distinctive fruity aromas of cherries and blackberries with a character which is truly expressive of the Cypriot terroir. Cypriot producers are increasingly investing in this variety, enchanted by the wines it produces and enticed by its potential. Maratheftiko is one of the world's few non-hermaphroditic vines. Its buds are females and have to be planted in mixed vineyards to ensure pollination.

Cyprus remains one of the few phylloxera-free wine-producing countries in the world. Having escaped phylloxera, the Cyprus wines are self-sown plants of the European Vitis Vinifera retaining their classic organoleptic characteristics, as well as the potential for a long life.  The island's long, sunny Mediterranean summers are a great asset to winemaking ripening the fruit and giving it its full flavor. Winters are mild and the gentle winds and breezes check the frosts, dispel the fogs and protect the vines and grapes from fungus diseases. Today, tremendous resources and effort have been invested into the rediscovering of Cyprus indigenous grape varieties, resulting not only in the making of superior quality wines, but also products with an original Cypriot character. These wines constitute truly undiscovered, new and breathtaking alternatives to the varietals that have dominated the market.

Lying in the sparkling blue waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, Cyprus is a country of alluring beaches and high mountain peaks with abundant fragrant vineyards, studded with olive trees, mythical landscape and ancient ruins. The third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is also one of the most romantic: according to mythology, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born in Cyprus.  It is no wonder that, back when the Romans reigned over the civilized world, Mark Anthony gave Cyprus to Cleopatra, the legendary Queen of Egypt, as an ultimate token of love.  According to Italian Archeoologist Maria-Rosaria Belgiorno, Cyprus was the first producer of wine in the Mediterranean around 6000 years ago and its wine-drinking culture spread from there to the rest of Europe. The most ancient drinking horn in pottery used exclusively for drinking wine was produced in Cyprus and two jugs used for wine were unearthed in Cyprus containing the seeds of grapes dated between 3500-3000 BC. All these facts combined point to the conclusion that there has been a wine industry in Cyprus continuously longer than anywhere else in the world.!