Tsipouro is a popular Greek grape spirit, usually flavored with anise. It is traditionally served to welcome guests into the home, accompany appetizers, or simply add a happy note when meeting old friends.
Some reports date the origin of tsipuro to antiquity and connect it to an ancient drink called “trima”. According to the official version, the historical traces of tsipuros lead to Mount Athos seven centuries ago. And perhaps even further – in the times of the Byzantine Empire and to cities such as Constantinople, Smyrna and Alexandria. There, grapes from the fertile lands of Asia Minor were turned into alcohol with the addition of anise from the island of Lemnos and mastic from Chios – it was boiled in special bronze cauldrons by skilled craftsmen from Pontus and Armenia. In those days, the drink was known as “raki” because the grape skins from which it was made were called “raki”. Anise, fennel, aromatic herbs and mastic are added to the resulting alcohol today.
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How do they drink tsipouro in Greece?
According to tradition, tsipuro is a drink made with the remains of winemaking, such as grappa in Italy or orujo in Spain – that is, from straw or jibri. In other words, it was considered a drink made from the “waste” of winemaking that was drunk among family and friends – not for “official guests.” Thus, over time, tsipouro became a drink for friendly gatherings and became especially popular in village “kafenions”.
Tsipuro is still drunk with friends today – but it is also already included in the product range, along with other high-quality spirits, of many wineries with a long history. It perfectly accompanies starters, seafood and goes well in cocktails. This is one of its main differences with Bulgarian brandy. Can you imagine our brandy in cocktails? Absurd: our brandy is too proud a drink to obey and conform to other drinks.
How is tsipuro made?
The main component of tsipouro is the lees that remain during the winemaking process after the grape juice has been pressed. This mass goes through the distillation process to obtain an alcoholic drink with 40-45 degrees. However, the big difference from other similar drinks of the Mediterranean is its characteristic aroma – a result of both the raw material itself and the special production process.
Bottled tsipouro (as opposed to draft) has a fruitier flavor than other grape brandies, especially when compared to the heavy aromas of the various types of grappa. Tsipuro is also milder in taste, which makes it suitable for preparing cocktails – which, with grappa and our brandy, is really an extremely inappropriate idea.
What is the difference between tsipuro and cicudia?
On the island of Crete, this drink is called “tsikudia”. In essence, it is the same. The preparation method remains the same. Winemakers use the residual material from the pressing of the grapes and ferment it at low temperatures to preserve all the flavors of the grape varieties. After this distillation process is carried out in special containers.
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What are the differences between the different types of tsipuro?
A prerequisite for the production of high-quality tsipouro is good grapes of the highest quality. In this way, the grape variety, the composition of the soil in which it was grown, the altitude and the geographical orientation of the vineyard, as well as the cultivation methods and the time of harvesting, significantly influence the characteristics and taste of the final drink. And, of course, the taste also depends on whether anise is added at the stage of its production.
The whole skill of the distiller consists precisely in preserving all the aromas and taste notes of the grapes, especially during the fermentation process – when the master can add his own notes and influence the final character of the drink.