Wine with dinner, wine as an aperitif or wine just as a drink to enjoy socially with friends but depending on which country you’re in, what wine do you drink?
The argument at the moment is over whether when you’re on holiday you’re patriotic and drink the wine produced in the country you’re in, or whether you go for a wine from another country you know will be good. Again, that depends on which country you’re in to start with. If it’s France you’ll rarely find anything other than French wine, in Italy nearly the same situation prevails. In the US, which produces some excellent wine, they’re strangely unpatriotic, or maybe just snobbish, in ordering French wine instead of their own. Spain is eminently sensible, sending its poor quality wine abroad whilst enjoying quality Rioja and Tempranillo at home and serving cheap red wine in drinks such as Sangria.
Cyprus though is a victim and benefactor of its past, a victim because through the last 30 years until recently, they honestly believed they could pass off low quality, vinegary wine as a quality drink, just by appending a posh looking label to the bottle and a benefactor of the fact that wine connoisseurs have finally realised that the original wine producing grape vines survived in Cyprus allowing the country to produce the only original wine in Europe from ungrafted vines.
Today Cyprus produces many excellent wines but, as with the UK, it suffers from not having the heritage that France, Italy and Spain does nor the burst of appreciation gained from appearing recently on the wine scene like South Africa, Australia and California have.
Visitors to the west of the island are bombarded with suggestions for wine routes which take in many of the vineyards of the Paphos and Limassol regions. Whilst, even only five years ago, this may have been a waste of a day, today it allows visitors to see the great strides that have been made in producing wines of equal quality to the mainland European ones.
Producers such as Tsangarides in Lemona outside Paphos have experimented with traditional varieties such as Xinisteri and Maratheftiko to produce crisp dry white wines and full bodied, rich reds that have won awards in Cyprus and in the UK. Other vineyards have joined the race to quality including Tsalapatis near Polemi and Ezousa near Kannaviou. Interestingly, Cyprus runs its own wine award scheme but, despite the improvement in standards, it refused to award any gold medals in 2010 saying the wines still didn’t meet international standard but instead awarded gold in 2011 for some quite exceptional wines.
So, for those on holiday, ask the waiter or sommelier for their suggestions for a local wine. Whilst it may not be one you’re familiar with, you could discover a new gem.