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What Is Zivania?

Zivania is often paired with pork loin dishes.
Zivania is commonly used as a warming drink in the mountainous area surrounding Mount Olympus.
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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 June 2014
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Zivania is a stiff alcoholic beverage made in Cyprus. This drink is distilled from wine mixed with the fermented pomace. Zivania is often served with food, but it is also frequently used medicinally. The use of its name is protected by law, so this drink can only be made in the country of Cyprus. Similar drinks include pomace brandy and grappa.

Though it is mainly a drink in the world at large, locals in Cyprus use this drink as more than just a beverage. It is used as a disinfectant and healing solution for wounds, a gargle for sore throats, and as a mouthwash for those afflicted with toothaches. In the mountain range surrounding Mount Olympus, it is used as a warming drink during cold weather.

Zivania is an aperitif, a drink served before dinner to whet the diner's appetite. It is often served with the appetizers that commence a large meal. Zivania is a common pairing with local goat and pork dishes like lountza, a dish of smoked pork loin, and tsamarella, a snack made from sundried spiced strips of meat, often goat thigh meat.

This is a strong drink with a noticeable burn that comes after drinking. It is best consumed with a non-alcoholic beverage close at hand to wash away the burning sensation. Some restaurants serve a complimentary shot of the drink with dinner. Some who taste zivania find it to have a slight essence of raisins.

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Pomace, also called marc, is the leftover grape mush that results from winemaking. It contains smashed fruit and skin with seeds and stems. Typically, zivania is distilled from pomace mixed with a high quality, fine wine. It can also be distilled from pomace mixed with water and a weaker zivania made with too much water, or from wine alone.

The marketing of the word zivania is protected by the European Union (EU), so technically, this drink can only be made in the mountains of Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus is an island country near Greece, Turkey, and Egypt. Things from Cyprus are often called Cypriot.

Zivania is made using a process called distillation, which concentrates the alcohol that exists in a mixture. In distillation, the mixture is heated in a distillation chamber or machine to the boiling point of alcohol. As the alcohol evaporates at a rate faster than the rest of the mixture, it enters a cooling chamber that condenses it into a concentrated alcoholic liquid.

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