Cyprus Wine


Wine’s been around a long time in Cyprus, as you can note if you read our potted history.

The tourist people like to romanticize about “6,000 Years of Wine History”, but this is only of help if you can drink well today.

And you can.

There are now more than 200 types and styles of Cyprus wine, white, red and rosé; dry, medium and sweet. Prices (in the shops) from €4.00 to $40.00 a bottle. There are 40+ wineries, producing from a modest 20,000 bottles a year to well over a million. Many brands are widely distributed, whilst others are only available from the winery (which often makes a super outing)

The last twenty years have seen a sea-change in Cyprus wine. Then, grapes were grown in the hills as a cash crop and, at harvest time, taken by truck to “wine factories” in Limassol, sometimes languishing in the hot sun for several days, to the detriment of the end product. Cypriots didn’t drink wine – their alcoholic tipple was beer and “Koniaki” (Cyprus brandy), or the local firewater an eau-de-vie called “Zivania” which was truly a winter warmer and sometimes fatal.

Today the vineyard area has shrunk and the grapes, from being a cash crop of unremarkable local variety, are either famous international varieties or re-discovered and nurtured old Cyprus types. And the vineyards, recently or newly planted, showing signs of resurgence, cluster round the regional wineries in the hills of Limassol and Paphos.

The resulting wines range from “drinkable” to “very good indeed” and there is a wonderful selection for the visitor to try. Most are dry, but there are some good medium-dry and dessert wines, too. And one mustn’t forget the Cyprus “sweetie” of legend, “Commandaria”, which has entranced invaders, occupiers, friendly visitors and residents for centuries.   In recent years, as well as taking to foods from all over the globe, younger Cypriots have taken to drinking wine with their meals. Initially snobbish and buying “imported” wines, they have now enthusiastically embraced the wines of their own country.

In this section you will see where can buy wine at the gate for most, if not all, of the wineries evaluated and recommended by Cyprus Gourmet.

Wine in restaurants

Although there are now 4,000 or more wines imported into Cyprus, the best value for money wines on restaurant lists are those from Cyprus. The catering industry here is not noted for giving bargains and most mark-ups are 200% or more, sometimes reaching 400%. This is short-sighted and not good business. So many diners stick with Cyprus wines – and, to be frank, they are wise to do so. Look over our winery listings for the wines we recommend from each one. The other good comment we would make is that despite having many fine imported wines (at prices to match) on their lists, hotel and restaurant wine waiters are frequently proud to recommend Cyprus wines.

CW - Pithari & Winemaking     CW - Argyrides, gleaming stainless steel tanks  07-08

In living memory this method of wine making (manual crushing juice into a terra cotta fermenting urn) has been replaced by-state-of-the-art temperature controlled stainless steel fermenters and storage vats.


Tiny unkempt vineyards of undisclosed grape varieties have gone – and in their place well tended plantings of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz surround the new wineries of the hill villages.

CW - SODAP Isl Vines White 2007 1

Since 1996, Cyprus’s major wine export has been the range of “Island Vines” and “Mountain Vines”, red and white. It is a consistently big seller in the UK’s Co-operative Supermarket chain.

CW - Ayia Mavri Moscatel Gift Box

Cyprus wines, like this dessert Muscat, are winners of awards in France, UK, Greece and elsewhere, and are now beautifully presented.



For the next month or two I am going to run my wine course, which covers how to enjoy wine unpretentiously. It is based on newspaper and magazine articles I have published over the years, suitably updated for 2014.  I hope you will enjoy it and, hopefully, find it of some value.  Comment, please!  Part 1 is my personal introduction –  In Part 2 I start the “Plain Man’s Guide to Wine Tasting”, which covers the storing and serving wine at home.  Successive articles will cover: “Appearance”(What to look for in bottler and glass), “Smell”, “Taste”, “Buying”, “Matching Wine with Food”, “Grapes”, “Wine Regions”, “Fine Wines”.


Patrick Signature line blue


PART 1 – – How Wine Captured Me

For the fact that I have enjoyed more than sixty years of wine drinking I have to thank a French film called Clochemerle. It was made in 1948 in black and white and adapted from a wonderful book of the same name by French writer Gabriel Chevallier, published in 1923. It is still in print and worth getting. Set in a fictitious village in the Beaujolais, actually a place called Vaux en Beaujolais, it was a riotous account of life among wine-makers and wine-imbibers and reflected very much the happier sides of the then life of the Beaujolais. French films were seldom seen in England in those days and it took until 1953 before a cinema in Piccadilly Circus put it on. Packed audiences wept with joyous laughter at the saucy romp. It had an “X” Certificate, to be seen by 18-year olds and older and I was enraptured and enchanted by what one beverage seemed (apparently) able to do, especially in matters of love. It was a brilliant film, alas no longer available, although there was quite a good BBC TV series based Chevallier’s story in 1972 – the cast of which is pictured below, left. 

                     Clochemerle            Clochemerle book cover

Working in the centre of London, near the wonderful food and wine district of Soho, the day after seeing the film I found a French grocery shop and in the window were some bottles of Beaujolais. I went in and bought one, took it home and drank it that evening. I was captured, totally and absolutely. The vintage was 1948 and it was superb. Whenever I could afford it I went to the same store and bought another bottle. It was my Christmas party drink. The following year I went again and bought what I thought was the same bottle. It was from the same producer but the wine was not very good at all. I looked on the label and saw that it was the 1952 vintage (a bad year). I had learned my first lesson about wine: that in many instances it varies from year to year, from vintage to vintage. I am glad I found out about wine by drinking it, and not through one of the many ‘learned’ books, which elevate wine-tasting to that of ‘art’ and/or ‘science’.

An older contemporary of my early years of imbibing was a man whose name will be known to every middle-aged or elderly lover of cricket, John Arlott (born 1914, died 1991)  As well as a cricket broadcaster he was also a poet, an author, and a wine lover.

His discovery of wine was accidental. In 1949 he was returning from reporting a cricket tour in South Africa, and broke his journey in Sicily “for a few days’ holiday”. A beer drinker, he had vowed to abstain during his stay, but on the third day’s lunch time at the Auberge in which he was staying, he tried a drop of the wine from the flask that was always put on to the table. Bingo! He was hooked. So began decades of wine writing, mostly for the Guardian newspaper, in which in a very human and personal way he told us about wines of all kinds and about the men and women who make them and sell them. Such was his style that his words not only entertained but they enlightened. They made wine welcoming, loving, loveable.

In 1986 John Arlott’s wine writing was gathered into a book called “Arlott on Wine”. It is a wonderful 200 pages and most of its contents are relevant today – and even those that are not are good reading because they tell of the wine personalities of a previous generation, who, take my word for it, were worth knowing. The book will reward your finding it, which is not too difficult. I see Amazon have fifteen copies of it on offer, all at very low prices. As a taster, this is an extract from Arlott’s opening piece. I think it offers sound advice.

Back to the Vine Roots – by John Arlott


It is healthy as well as salutary for the habitual wine drinkers and

certainly for the wine writer – sometimes to go back to the beginning of the alphabet. While the percentage of wine drinkers has increased more in Britain than in any other European country in the past decade, we are still not a nation of wine drinkers; and many who do drink it are sceptical about it.

Few of us grew up in households where wine was generally taken with

meals; and there is lingering mistrust of a habit which was only lately the prerogative of the well-to-do minority. There is doubt about the dogma as to which wine goes with what food. The suspicion that wine snobs create a mumbo jumbo about particular vineyards and vintages is reflected in the inverted snobbery of ‘plonk is good enough for me’.

Recognition of a few elementary facts should break down these barriers.

Wine – simply fermented grape juice – is a natural beverage. For many

unsophisticated people, like the peasants of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Rumania, Algeria, Morocco, it is a staple diet. Indeed, in Italy, the law grants convicts a daily ration of wine.

These are theoretical arguments. On the other hand, anyone may try the practical experiments which prove that wine makes the simplest meal – sausage and mash, or bread and cheese – vastly more satisfying. It can, too, be demonstrated that at a blind tasting the most unambitious drinker can generally rank three or four wines in order of merit – and find the most expensive with murderous accuracy.

Wine may be an acquired taste, but many an eventual pint-swigger first drinks beer as a pleasureless ‘manly’ pose. St Paul’s ‘take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake’ is not a recommendation for dyspepsia but a piece of human wisdom. The justification for drinking wine is pleasure. This factor refutes the ‘which with what’ theories. Anyone who enjoys drinking a sweet wine – a Sauternes or one of the more sugary hocks – with a steak should do so. Palates change: the young and the old tend to sugar-hunger: in between, their taste is generally for savoury food and dry drink

‘White with fish, red with meat’ is a counsel of safety, not a rule. Although fish can make red wine taste metallic, some deeply versed wine drinkers would advocate claret with salmon, an Alsace Riesling with pork, or a Moselle with veal; a big white burgundy will stand up with most meat dishes. The division is as non-existent as that; and virtually any wine is shown off to advantage by cheese.

From “The Guardian”, July 1973



  Once upon a time… Cyprus wine was a joke. The “leading” white wines, made in factories in Limassol, were largely stale, flat and well on the way to oxidisation. The reds, mostly made from Mavro were dull and lifeless. The reason, of course, was that grapes were grown as a cash crop by village […]

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Sherry–a Decent Drop of Fortification


In Britain, sherry may be a minority tipple, but it is a large enough one for a good range to be stocked in wine stores and supermarkets, whereas in Cyprus it is not easy to find and the range available is quite limited.  The demise of what used to be called Cyprus sherry also diminished […]

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The Wines of Cyprus in History


Part 1    The Greek Connection “The World is full of wonders, but nothing is more wonderful than man” Sophocles (c.496 – c.405 BC) The golden age of Greece saw some of the finest works of art, architecture and literature ever bestowed by one civilisation upon its successors.  It also elevated man to freedom — of […]

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What’s New? NOT Beaujolais Nouveau! Our editors proffer their views.


  For half a century the practical and business like Beaujolaisians have been dashing into their vineyards in September (regardless of how hot or not the summer has been), picking every Gamay grape in sight, rushing them to the crushers and fermenters in their wineries, tweaking the bubbling brew and when (just about) fermented bottling […]

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