Wine has evolved as part of life, culture and diet since time immemorial, and has always been an important component of celebrations and festivities. Wine has also served as a health tonic, an instrument of religion and ritual, and an economic resource.
Wine came to Europe with the spread of the Greek civilization around 1600 BC. But it was during the Roman era that wine became popular throughout society. In Roman cities, wine bars were set up on almost every street, and the Romans exported wine and wine-making to the rest of Europe. In the New World, the first successful wine-making occurred in the 19th century. As most New World countries had no native grape varieties suitable for wine-making, grapes were imported from Europe. Many countries (particularly New World) have produced hybrid grapes. Many hybrids have been bred to obtain some of the desirable flavour and ripeness aspects of true wine grapes (vitis vinifera) while increasing hardiness, disease resistance and adaptability to specific soils.
Over the last 150 years, wine-making has been totally revolutionised as an art and science. With access to refrigeration, it has become easy for wineries to control the temperature of the fermentation process and produce high quality wines in hot climates. As a result, wine production eventually became progressively refined, its popularity increased, and wine became a common feature in the everyday life of citizens throughout the Western world. The introduction of harvesting machines has allowed winemakers, particularly in the New World counties, to increase the size of their vineyards and make them more efficient. Nevertheless, in this long historical path, one thing remains unchanged and has never been neglected; the association of wine with gastronomy, history, tradition, origin, local quality products and dignified social settings.
As an enduring cultural symbol of fine life, the role of wine has evolved over time, changing from an important source of nutrition to a cultural complement to food and conviviality compatible with a healthy lifestyle. There is something unique about food and wine that attracts a certain type of person who loves life, and loves sharing it with others.
In some countries with strong tradition of wine as part of a balanced diet, wine has been recognised by law as food. The traditional diet, native to the countries of the Mediterranean areas, is characterised by a high intake of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, cereals and fish and a low intake of meats, especially red, with olive oil as the principal source of fat, and of course the moderate and daily intake of wine, usually red, during meals.
Furthermore, thanks to its alcohol content and non-alcoholic phytochemicals (natural occurring plant compounds), wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It has been well documented that moderate amounts of alcohol can raise your good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) and thin your blood. This is thought to be one of the primary cardiovascular benefits from wine (red and white), as well as hard liquor and beer. Red wine provides much more resveratrol compared to white. That’s because the longer the skin is kept on the grape during the wine making process, the greater the concentration of resveratrol in the wine. In the case of white wine production, the skin is removed before fermentation, giving white wines a lower concentration in resveratrol compared to red wines.
However, in consuming wine we often get challenged with our life choices: our diet, alcoholism and even the money we spend on pleasure-seeking choices, and it’s true, some of us are guilty of excess. Despite the increasing popularity of wine in parts of the world where wine culture is relatively new, these societies have not adopted the more harmonious relationship with alcohol that is characteristic of wine-drinking cultures. The amount of wine you drink matters tremendously. Responsible and moderate consumption of wine must be promoted: wine is only appreciated to its fullest in moderation. Drink more than what’s recommended, your health benefits are lost and your health risks go up. Here’s what’s considered safe and effective:
Men: No more than two drinks per day.
Women: No more than one drink per day.
Recognising the health dangers and the negative social and economic consequences that can be caused by the misuse of alcoholic beverages and the fact that responsible consumption patterns of wine can be compatible with a healthy lifestyle, today’s culture of wine must include a common stakeholder commitment to ensuring that responsible and moderate drinking remains the social norm. It should be pointed out that countries were wine represents the major source of alcohol use tend to have lower levels of heavy drinking, intoxication and binge drinking in both adults and teenagers.
Wine is a strictly regulated product, from the vineyard to the consumer through comprehensive and specific standards that cover wine production, including soils, planting areas, the authorisation of vine varieties, and wine making. While wine remains a natural product, technological innovations have provided for better hygiene and control of the production process, contributing to the production of wines suited to the palate of contemporary consumers.
The aim of viticulture around the world is to produce the best possible quality grapes in preparation for winemaking. The key influences of soil composition, temperature through the various stages of the season, rainfall, wind exposure, topography and orientation all play a major role in determining the most outstanding sites for the production of high quality wine.
The ability to express the character and conditions of vineyard site in the finished wine is one of the most sought after attributes in fine wine. “Regionality”, known also as “terroir” is not only expressed by the environmental factors but also by the human factor. Knowledge is passed from one generation to the next, consistently evolving while preserving and expanding centuries of heritage.
Wine making is both an art and a science, and different climates and soil types will impact on a single grape variety. Many different styles of wine have emerged as a result of differing viniculture methods, and few winemakers would agree on just one “correct” method of wine making. Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character. Discovering the unique characters of different regions is an opportunity to learn more details about the provenance and history of a wine. While wine remains a natural product, technological innovations have provided better hygiene and control of the production process, contributing to the production of wines suited to contemporary consumers’ palate.
Science is just one of the lenses we can use to examine wine with, and there’s still a great deal about wine that science can’t really explain. Science in the right hands has the power to help people make more interesting wines more consistently. Sadly, it has largely been used to make cheap wine more consistent, and more cheaply. Winemaking and wine trading is now in the hands of large conglomerates. Consumption is not restricted to those traditional areas where it was originally produced but is rising in countries which do not make it. All this means that wine is in danger of becoming “increasingly industrial, increasingly monotonous”.
Old World European winemakers emphasize “terroir,” meaning that the wine reflects the soil and weather where the grapes were grown, so that different vintages can have very different tastes. Most of the world’s great wines are not made by experts, but by artisanal wine growers, working empirically. They observe; they experiment; they understand. While science is just one way of seeing the world, it is incredibly powerful, if, as a tool for understanding, it is used effectively.
Much of the romance of wine derives from the idea of individual producers working their own plots of land in their own idiosyncratic way. A variety of styles determined by country and region of origin, grower and grape variety keeps consumers interested. Knowing where your wine is from connects you to the people who raise and grow it. Instead of having a single relationship – to a big supermarket – you develop smaller connections to more local winery sources which are better for you as a consumers, better for local growers and better for the environment. Among the many advantages of exploring local food and wine it is worth noting that local products travel much less distance to market therefore using less fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases. Vineyards ensure human presence in fragile areas that often lack other real economic value. Vines planted on hillsides apart for the pleasant visual impact minimise soil erosion and can also provide fire protection.
Every region has its own special terroir. In the wine growing village (“Krasochoria”) of Cyprus we have a great terroir for both the local foods and the local wines. When in Cyprus, this is your region to explore and enjoy! The Limassol “Krasochoria” area has been the home of the culture of wine in Cyprus since antiquity. Wine has an influence on the culture of people, and the numerous harvesting festivals, which take place towards the beginning of October, is celebrated in most of the wine villages including the regional “kefalochori” (largest village) of Pachna. The climate and geographical position we enjoy here in Cyprus and particularly the area of Pachna village assures perfect ripening of the fruits. Our land is ideal for the cultivation of the vine, as is the vine ideal for our land.
Though winemaking is an ancient craft, current ideas and developments show it is also a very dynamic one. Cypriot wineries are great places to meet and connect with friends as well as farmers. Each winemaker takes the time to taste the wines and work with them year round to develop a great balance of flavour in your mouth. A good winemaker can balance a wine where one element doesn’t overpower the other. When you pair this great balance of flavour with food, it establishes a great taste sensation.
There has never been a better time to go visit a winery near you. To feel the passion of wine and winemaking, it’s important to seek out the smaller places where you can really spend some quality time with the people directly involved in the wine-making process. When you’re there, surrounded by the wondrous sights and smells of a winery, with the winemaker across the bar, tasting wine in pristine condition that has never travelled, the wine tastes special. You simply can’t replicate those conditions at home. Of course, if you want to drink a large glass of wine, you could buy a bottle and have a picnic. When you buy direct from the winery, you can be sure that a much higher percentage of your money is spent on the wine. By definition, terroir-driven, limited production wines, are available in small quantities mainly at the wineries. You will never find them at a convenience store or at a supermarket.
We at Monolithos believe that making wine is a form of artistic expression where land is the inspiration for a creative soul that transforms soil to liquid art. Visiting Monolithos Winery not only provides a different perspective, especially given the proximity of the vines to an urban landscape, but it also offers a chance to burn off energy by walking among the vines and enjoying a wonderful view of the Troodos Mountains.
For generations, the civilized world has enjoyed the charming benefits a good glass of wine can provide – a helping hand to unwind after a long day, the backdrop to a richly rewarding conversation with close friends and family, or even standing alone on the merits of its taste. However, wine is not just about the beverage itself. It is about the people who make it and the passion they put into it and those who share it. It’s all about entertaining, sharing and how best to enjoy the moment. The next time you are travelling in the region of “Krasohoria”, do join us in living the wine country lifestyle. We look forward to welcoming you at our winery.
However even if you are not driving, be very careful about how much you are drinking. People who have had too much to drink ruin the tasting experience for everybody. Remember: drink wine (responsibly).