Commandaria, the wine that made it into Guiniess book of World records

The wine with many names

It has been called the wine of kings and the king of wine. But also the wine of the apostles, the wine that started a war, or the woman opener(!). We are of course talking about Commandaria, the oldest wine still in production. Mentioned in the Guinness book of records and since 2021 included in the national list of Intangible Cultural heritage of Cyprus.

The oldest?

Cyprus in general has a long and incredibly interesting history when it comes to wine production. How about archaeological evidence that wine has been made here for almost 6000 years! The history of Commandaria is almost as old. The world’s oldest known poet, Hesiod, in 734 BC, describes in detail the making of this wine. A procedure that is basically the same then as now.

The procedure

The grapes are left on the vine until they reach a sugar content of 204 grams of sugar per litre for Xynisteri and 230 grams of sugar per litre for Mavro, the only two grapes allowed for the production of Commandaria. The grapes are then left to dry in the sun until they reach a sugar content of at least 374 grams per litre. Only then are the grapes pressed and a base wine is produced. There are basically two main versions of Commandaria. Fortified and wine from raisined grapes. Either way, the finished wine is aged for at least two  years in used oak barrels.

The taste

So what does this famous wine, which was served at Richard the Lionheart’s wedding, taste like? Common to both fortified and non-fortified are the distinct aromas of raisins and figs, burnt caramel and hints of vanilla. In the taste we find all his, but also roasted chocolate and coffee. For me the most striking difference between the Fortified and non fortified is the edge. Naturally the fortified version has a kind of a more defined edge. The raisined version is velvety smooth and soft. Both of them are what’s in German is called „Fullmundig“

The pairing

But you can’t only drink wine (they say…) You also need to eat. The best pairing with the fortified version is sweet dishes like honey nuts, pecan pie or why not a Crème Brûlée to pick up the touch of burnt caramel. The non-fortified versions is perfect with blue cheese and brownies or a perfect companion to a Fois Gras. 

No matter what, Commanderia is a wine that always is correct and that you once you have tasted it, never will forget.

Maria Scharffenberg,
Sommelier and Teacher
Europäische Sommelier Schule