Friday, July 24, 2020

The oldest wine still being made

The island of Cyprus still makes what seems to be the oldest type of wine that we know about.  Commandaria got its name from the headquarters of the Knights Templar in the 13th century, but the wine was old even then: King Richard the Lionheart (of Crusades and Robin Hood fame) has it at his wedding, but it far pre-dates that.  You have to go way, way back to 800 BC when Hesiod described a wine called Cypriot Manna.



It is a sweet, fortified wine - if you've ever had Port or Icewein then I expect this would be similar.  The grapes are harvested and then left in the sun so that evaporation concentrates the sugars.  Today's Commandaria is aged several years in oak barrels - in ancient times the wine would have been stored in big terra cotta jugs.

I'd like to try this sometime, if only for the history of the thing.

You can read about a more or less recent tasting here.

7 comments:

Tim said...

Very interesting, thanks for the history lesson. I'm going to see if I can find it at Total Wine.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Oh, this sounds delightful, both for the wine and history. Thanks for sharing Borepatch!

Unknown said...

I was stationed on Cyprus in the late 70's and I have had this wine many times. It tastes as though you are eating raisins. I miss the wine, I miss the island.

Old NFO said...

Agree with Unk. It's VERY sweet. Ironically, we got a few bottles in Souda Bay in the exchange.

Glen Filthie said...

I’d like to give that a go too...

LSP said...

Nice find, and you can see why they they watered their wine, too strong otherwise. There's an echo of this in the Eucharist, curiously, the chalice is "mixed" -- water and wine.

Maureen said...

Very often used as communion wine in the Greek Orthodox Church.