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Commandaria used to be produced by vine dressers, at their own homes. Let us see how it got its name, which are its characteristics and the ingredients of this sweet wine, how it was produced in the old days and now. 

Commandaria is a Cypriot, delightful and sweet genuine wine, produced without additional sweetening substances, without the addition of colour. It is produced by a mixture of local black or white grapes. The main characteristics of Commandaria, which is served as a postprandial wine, are the exquisite taste and the wonderful colour. The best Commandaria in taste, fragrance, colour and sweetness is produced after the mixture of 85-90% xynisteri (a king of grape) and 10-15% black local. 

The name Commandaria was given to the red wine by the Johannites, knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, one of the military and religious battalions that settled in Cyprus neat Kolossi in 1192 a.D. This battalion was administered by its military commanderie or Commandaria. The famous sweet wine was produced in this specific area and the Johannite soldiers took on its production and refined it. They named it Commandaria. 

Commandaria is produced in some villages in Limassol district located at semi mountainous areas. These areas are characterized by limewash soils, limited rainfall and drought conditions. The vineyards are not irrigated; they are only watered by rainwater. These conditions, high temperature, exposure to the sun, reduced humidity during summer, the altitude above sea level, the soil and the specific type of grape process provide Commandaria with a special taste and scent. The most famous Commandaria is nowadays produced in the community of Zoopiyi. Commandaria used to be produced by vine dressers, at their own homes. This means that vine dressers used to work for their selves, as practical tradesmen. The development of Co-ops helped organise the whole process of Commandaria production. Electrical power and new technology in general was used instead of muscular power. However, the traditional way of producing Commandaria, passed on from generation to generation centuries ago is still followed. 

The grapes of the two main kinds for wines are used to produce fine Commandaria, black local and white or xynisteri, at an analogy of 85-90% and 10-15%. Right after vine harvest, the grapes are placed on packing sheets or on open roofs, known as “aplostres” for 4-10 days or even more according to weather conditions, so as to be dehydrated by the sun. When the grades for black grapes reach 20o-21o and for xynsteri 18o-19 o, the grapes are ready for expression. This process takes place in small local wineries in the villages producing Commandaria. They are initially compressed and then are transferred to the presser. The grapestones and bostryx should not be broken, because then tannin is released, which adds an unpleasant taste to the wine produced. The must produced is placed in armoured concrete or galvanized cylindrical tanks to be fermented. When ferment is completed the grades are down to 15o. Transfusion without air takes place during December. At the end of January and beginning of February the delivery of the newly produced wine to wine industries takes place for further process. Right after filtering, Commandaria it transferred in a wine cellar and kept there in oak barrels (500lt). 

 December 2020

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