The seeds had been found in an earthen jar, Buried for saving, centuries ago. Even the wearing of time could not mar The vineyards that would eventually grow. From this ancient grape a new production Brought back to the world the sweetest nectar, Recalling an old epic seduction Of Odysseus’s long adventure. Legend even tells of lion hearted Royalty praising the drink’s great value. From Earth, the recipe never parted As stories of it glory only grew. It is the reason for this aria That we will sing for Commandaria.
It is not a trick of the eyes, or a way to play with the light. It is really a glass of wine of a new variety, blue wine. To be fair, it is not new, but it is a rare thing, and there are not many places in the world where you can get a glass of blue wine. The mistake that first brought this wonder into the world was in California, but five other countries repeated the process to produce their own blue wine. One of the wineries that produces this delicacy can be found in the hills of Cyprus outside the small village of Omodos called Linos.
Omodos is a charming village in the heart of the wine country in Cyprus, and is a short hour drive from Paphos by car. It is one of the places that everybody should visit if they make it out to Cyprus, and not only to taste the blue wine. The village is a fun place to stroll through that transports you back in time when streets were narrow and the only way to get from one place to the other was by walking. It is covered now with touristy shops and restaurants, but looking around, you can still see and imagine the way it once was.
It is also nestled right in the heart of wine country. Linos Winery is one of the bigger and older wineries in the region, and the only one to boast about the blue wine, but there numerous wineries around that allow you try the nectar that they have created. They have many traditional variations, and few grapes that can only be found on the island, but the one that the people of Cyprus brag about the most is commandaria. This is a desert wine made from raisins, and it is not a sweet as I would have thought. It falls more into the category of a lighter sherry and goes great after dinner.
Commandaria, like much of the other things that can be found in Cyprus, dates way back in history, and holds the distinction for being the oldest variety of wine in the world. According to people on my tour, they made the wine all the way back in the Hellenistic period using old presses much like the one pictured above. They would squeeze the raisins and grapes between the two large beams while men twisted the press below. They would then collect the juice in these large earthen jugs to ferment, and when the wine was ready, they would serve it to their guests.
The process has changed over the years, and now they collect the wine in oak barrels to age, but this does not take away from the history of the wine making process of this region. Commandaria is the wine that is talked about in Odysseus’s voyages, and Richard the Lion Hearted drank it during the crusades. It adds to the flavor of going out on a wine tasting tour in Cyprus.
It is easily one of the things that you should plan to do when taking a trip to Cyprus. There are many tour companies out there, and the one I took was called Cyprus Wine Tasting. They came to our place earlier in the morning and drove us to three different wineries while talking about the history of the island and the wine. The tour included a traditional lunch, and walk through the village of Omodos. And the most important thing was the driver to safely transport us from place to place. This is a great company to work with if you decide to take a tour and the one I recommend.
In the meantime, I raise my glass of blue wine to you and hope that someday you make it out to this part of the world.