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Zivania

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Zivania (also Zivana) is a traditional Cypriot beverage, a distillate produced in the island of Cyprus from pomace, the residue of grapes that were pressed during the winemaking process (including the stems and seeds) mixed with high-quality dry wines produced from the local grape varieties of Cyprus. The pomace/wine mixture is then distilled in special traditional distillation apparatus, producing zivania.

Left: A bottle of Cypriot Zivania.

Zivania is characterized by its typical taste and aroma. It is colorless and it is pleasantly alcoholic with a light aroma of raisins. The typical alcohol content is 45% by volume. It contains no sugars and has no acidity.

Other than enjoying zivania as an alcoholic drink, it is used in Cyprus for several other purposes. It is used to treat wounds, for massaging sore body parts, as a remedy for colds, toothaches or as a warming-up drink during the cold months of winter, especially at villages on the Troodos mountains. In the old times, the main alcoholic drinks Cypriots consumed were wine and zivania. In some villages of Cyprus, cinnamon was added to zivania giving it a nice red color and a fine aroma and flavor.

As zivania ages it becomes better and more aromatic. Aged zivania was valued very high and was kept for consumption during special occasions or as a treat for visitors. Even nowadays at some villages in Cyprus, visitors will be welcomed to a home with zivania served together with almonds, walnuts, loukoumi, soutzoukos or small appetizers like loukaniko (traditional Cypriot sausage), or lountza (traditional Cypriot smoked pork loin).

Zivania is served ice-cold with the local meze, soutzoukos or dried fruit and nuts.

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