01 Apr The history of “tsipouro”
The first reference to grape marc is made in Ancient Greece during the Hellenistic years, where there is talk of a drink, the “pie” made from boiling (distillation) of grape grapes. The art of distillation, however, develops during the Byzantine times in the monasteries of Mount Athos on the peninsula of Mount Athos. “And they are the monks of Mount Athos, who introduce the monks of Meteora to the secrets of distillation.” Of course, the vineyards in the area of Meteora are witnessed since the Neolithic Age. Archaeological excavations, in the prehistoric cave of Theopetra, brought to light, among other things, grape pits.
On Mount Athos, which was the guardian of the knowledge and traditions of Byzantium, the distillery of marc was known at least in 1590. Alexander Lavrioti reports that “he was greatly concerned with the Turkish Government (Mount Athos) and the Ecumenical Patriarchate the free-flowing ammo in Agio Ore and the imperfection of spirits. More than twenty rumors on the matter are in the tower of the holy Community from 1590 onwards. “This does not mean that it was unknown earlier. The absence of hand-pressed grape presses proves that they did not press the marc to produce more wine, as was the case in southern Greece, but left them with wine residues to make a higher yield on distillation.
During the Ottoman domination, because the Koran prohibits wine-making, winegrowing is weak. Until some merciful interpreters of the Quran discovered that the Koran refers to wine rather than distillate. It then begins to produce raki (raki) or raki (rhodi), something like tsipouro, that is to say, consumed in the closed aristocratic classes and the women of the harem that loved it. Vine cultivation begins again, especially in Christian areas.
Raki, the ancestor of tsipouro, “participates” in the early days of the Revolution. According to Spyridon Trikoupis, on 21 March 1821, when the Greeks were fortified at Patras Castle, the following incident occurred. “… On that day, armed up to 100 Turks, rising from Rio, were runaway, some of them departed in what the Holy Trinity was doing during the parish of the Holy Trinity, they raided, raked in a certain basin, and transplanted the old bastards, and the fireworks were thrown out of them. “The fire was extended to neighboring houses so that the turmoil between the Turks and the Greeks was generalized and the event was the starting point of the struggle in Patras.
With the release, the cultivation of the vine and of course the production of marc spirits.
Until the 15th century, the art of distilling tsipouro travels to the surrounding areas. In Epirus, Macedonia, the rest of Thessaly, as well as in Crete as well as in many other parts of Greece. For many centuries, tsipouro was produced amateur by the villagers as a means of harvesting the grapes, which would otherwise be discarded. Consumption was mainly due to the weaker social strata. You see the “poor brother of wine” fit more closely to the “poor relatives” of Greek society.
Its production was made in small copper nets, old technology, almost uncontrollably and under rudimentary hygiene conditions. Small trade was permitted in the production area and adjoining prefectures, always in bulk form, since any kind of standardization was banned. The reason; The legislature of the time wanted to boost the income of farmers and border residents so that they stay in their homes.
In 1883, the official Greek state introduced the first law on the taxation of alcohol and in 1896 the first official licenses for the production of grape marc were given.
Until the last decades of the 20th century the production of tsipouro was made exclusively “at home”, there was no mass industrial production. Already, a colorless alcoholic drink is produced and is drunk every year throughout the Mediterranean. It is known by various names: tsipouro, arach, grappa. It is distilled from the by-products of wine, as if the man wanted to exploit the vine as much as possible.
Tsipouro is called in Greece the marble distillate. Tradition for the production of tsipouro is Macedonia, Crete, Thessaly, and Epirus.
In 1989, with the adoption of the National and European legislation on spirits (Laws 1802/1988 and 1576/1989), the production and bottling of tsipouro from official distilleries is allowed. The above legislative transformation also meant the enormous shift in the quality of the tsipouro. It has contributed decisively to the development of a “distillery” culture and to the bloom of its industrial production.
All of this has dramatically changed the beverage profile, which today is considered equivalent to the rest of the international distillates. With the latest revision of the EU’s alcohol regulation, the tsipouro was sold exclusively as a Greek product. You see the tsipouro looks like the country that gave birth to it, so it knows how to withstand time, change, adapt, without losing its pure, authentic character.
Classification of tsipouro
Tsipouro, depending on whether it is flavored with anethole or not, is distinguished in a) tsipouro with anise and b) tsipouro without anise.
Tuscany with anise is produced by the distillation of marc, in the presence of fennel and, more rarely, aniseed. Fennel and anise are aromatic plants that have the main aromatic compound anethole. Anethole, with its characteristic odor and taste, dissolves in alcohol and is insoluble in water. So we notice that when we add water to the tsipouro with anise, it dips. Tuscany with anise tended to be traditionally mostly in some parts of Northern Greece.
In tsipouro without anise, the marc is distilled without the addition of anther fennel in the retort. So its organoleptic characteristics refer to the grape and the tsipouro remains clear with the addition of water to it. Today, the share of tsipouro without anise, compared to that of tsipouro with anise, is bigger in the market and its consumption is all over Greece.
Other classes of tsipouro, but with a very small presence in the market, are those of tsipouro flavored with yolk and that of tsipouro aged in oak barrels.
The art of distillation
Distillation. The Top Time for Tsipouro. The top challenge for the distiller. The moment he has to collect a drop – drop, in the distillate, the whole concentrated flavor and flavor of the grape. A prerequisite for this purpose? Complete the following steps correctly.
Selection of grapes. First, the grape itself must be of the highest quality. That is why in the vineyard we select only the grapes, which belong to the appropriate varieties and have reached the desired degree of maturity.
It is also necessary to quickly transfer the grapes to the winery and further check them on the sorting belt. This is followed by de-slaughter, mild crushing and light pressure in the press for the direct separation of the must from the marc to the white winemaking. In red wine, the separation of the must from the marc is carried out after the alcoholic fermentation. After this stage is completed, we move on to the next one.
Fermentation of grapes and grape pulp. And this stage is also vital because fermentation produces compounds that greatly determine the organoleptic characteristics of the distillate. Here, on the one hand, we must preserve all the primary flavor and flavor characteristics of the grape. At the same time, we should seek to create the aromatic, mainly compounds, of interest to us, and to remove the undesirable ones. It is important to mention that the marc should remain unchanged until the moment of distillation, so as not to negatively affect the quality of the finished product. Once the fermentation is complete, everything is ready to start distilling.
Discontinuous distillation. The course of distillation, depending on the feedstock of the raw material to be distilled, may be continuous or discontinuous.
“After distillation, tsipouro and grape distillate have to be stabilized,” finished “and calmed for a while. This is accomplished by staying either in stainless tanks or in oak barrels. ”
In discontinuous distillation, after a complete distillation cycle, we switch off the process and start a new cycle. Instead of continuous, the feed is continuous without interruption.
Aging. The last note to taste
After distilling them, tsipouro and grape spirit are necessary to stabilize, “finish” and calm for a while.
This is achieved by staying either in stainless steel tanks or in oak barrels.
In stainless tanks they retain their transparency on the face and usually have a floral and fruity aromatic style and a fresh flavor.
By staying in oak barrels, tsipouro and grape spirits acquire amber color over time. In addition, wood tannins add complexity and balance to the distillate. At the same time, they give it a complex character with predominant characteristics of spices of dried fruit, honey, tobacco, chocolate, etc. In order for a distillate to be classified as “aged” by the respective state agency, it should remain in oak barrels at least for six months.
Evaluating a tsipouro
To produce a high quality tsipouro, a tsipouro worth ten or more, certain conditions must be met:
(a) Have the distiller qualities of quality grape marc which obviously result from good grapes. (b) The fermentation of the marc shall be carried out without problems at low temperatures, so that only the desired compounds remain in them. c) These compounds, which remain in the marc after their alcoholic fermentation, will be denatured in valuable spirits of distillate, from the expert hands of the distiller to a modern distillery.
If this happens, then tsipouro without anise will definitely be quality and will usually have a floral, fruity or vegetable character. Correspondingly, in a quality tsipouro with anise, the anthropogenicity of the anise is strongly prevalent, without being easy to distinguish other aromatic features. Here, it should be noted that tsipouro, which shows bad smells, such as mold, rotten grass, rust, firing, solvent etc., means that a high proportion of heads (acetaldehyde and methanol) or tails (higher alcohols , esters, fatty acids, etc.). A fact that is likely to make it dangerous for Public Health.
For the assessment of tsipouro, it is advisable to use a tulip-shaped glass and the temperature of the tsipouro to be about 12 ° C. First try the tsipouro with a low alcoholic degree and then the larger ones. Tuscara without anise precedes the test. Then follow the aged oak barrels and close the rating with the flavored ones.
To enjoy the flavor and flavor of tsipouro without anise, we consume it cool, at a temperature of about 10-12 ° C and without the addition of water or ice.
Tsipouro does not impose dress code or restrictions on its codes of conduct.
Taking a walk in the mountains, we enjoy it with appetizers such as: Mushrooms, bulbs, wild mountain greens, grilled or pickled vegetables, snails etc.
It also fits perfectly with spicy ripe cheeses and meat cooked with spicy recipes.
Walk on the Beach; She is hanging out with all the seafood, shellfish and small fish.
For those who prefer aged tsipouro, its organoleptic characteristics are more pronounced, at a temperature of about 17 ° C. It is enjoyed with the accompaniment of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate couverture or a good quality cigar.
With or without aromas, with or without meze, finally the tsipouro is a drink of the company. The tsipouro is sharing it … but you also share the dishes that come in the middle.
You share the voices and laughter that accompany it.
Today the tsipouro conquers more and more young people, who return back to stable Greek values … in constant Greek flavors … Returning to and discovering the pure, authentic character of the tsipouro … sometimes it may change the way they enjoy it … it does not change never the genuine, strong emotion that can offer you.
Article from PSITHYRI magazine, Issue 78, December 2014 – https://www.psithiri.gr/