agora at amathounta

Bread and Wine an ever loyal marriage

 

It was the Mycenaean Greeks who encouraged wine production in Cyprus in the early 14th century BC. This enhancement of oenology meant that Cyprus had another commodity to trade via the already existing shipping lanes from the central Mediterranean to the shores of the Levant and North Africa. This link meant that grains, wheat and flour were continuously supplied to continue feeding the ever growing population of the colonies. The founding of Greek colonies all over the Mediterranean encouraged the export of wine but it also ensured that Cyprus remained a hub, a stop off point to load more goods such as copper and olive oil before sailing on to off load goods to foreign lands and also brought back the latest artistic trends and exotic goods from the east that have for so long influenced Greek and Cypriot culture. One such example would be from the ancient city of Soloi (pronounced Soli) on the north coast of Cyprus, founded in the 6th century BC, which supplied Athens with timber and copper.

pafos_harbour_castle

View of Pafos harbour from the boardwalk

Trade often extended inland into Anatolia, in the Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border; floor tiles had been excavated showing a skeleton lying down with a wine pitcher and loaf of bread alongside Ancient Greek text that reads: “Be cheerful, enjoy your life”

The ancient text closely links our company slogan: “Drink wine and life will be fine”, and it goes to show how deep routed the oenology call culture is embedded in our history. Granted Cyprus has a shared history of colonisation and empire with influence from many other ethnicities, Armenian being one of them. This is of significant relevance as Armenia is debatably the first culture to produce wine; Master of Wine Caroline Gilby supports the theory that in the borders of modern day Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, having visited Areni cave in Armenia where the first winery in the world is set to be located, she argues that there is strong evidence that the ancient civilisation cultivated grapes for wine production.

petra_tou_romiou

 

Aphrodites Rock

Cypriots vaguely make the connections with the history of wine on the island and from Ancient times to links with the cult of Aphrodite that always included wine as part of the debauchery ceremonies. However, a more recent, holy and just way that wine has been included in the upbringing of young Cypriots is via koumandaria which is the wine chosen for holy communion. Koumandaria or as it’s been marketed, Commandaria, also has a much richer history and has been referred to ancient writers as Cypriot nectar as ‘nama’ or ‘manna’ depending on the region of the original source. The relationship with wine and bread goes back to pagan times and continues to be the perfect accompaniment on the dinner table. Modern society has become a little too critical of ‘bad carbs’ and pigeon hole bread as some what unnecessary but as everything in life, moderation must be exercised to limit of one’s own requirements and total elimination of alcohol or potatoes and especially of bread is a little drastic (unless of course you have allergies and intolerances of course). As the Cypriots say, albeit loosely translated, if you don’t eat bread with dinner, it’s as if you haven’t eaten at all!

 

George Charalambous

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