Greece

Greek Wine

Wine is the most ancient Greek alcohol.  According to Greek mythology wine started in Greece when Dionysus, the half-man half-god son of Zeus, lived in the mountains and learned the wine making process.  Dionysus brought the art of wine making to humans when he taught Icarus, the king of Athens, how to make wine.  Greece has a number of wine grapes unique to Greece which are rarely if ever used outside of the country.  Most of these unique grapes are white grapes, like Assyrtiko and Vidiano, but there are also red grapes like Kotsifali and Mandilaria. Tsipouro is a liquor produced only in Greece.  It is similar to Italian grappa as it is a distilled spirit made using the left over must from pressing wine.  Tsipouro can have a very harsh flavour, though some are smoother than others.  Tsipouro is most commonly enjoyed as an after-dinner aperitif and is served in a shot glass. Some distillers are now aging this Greek delight. Ouzo emerged as enterprising Greeks started flavoring tsipouro, the grappa produced in Greece since at least the 15th century, with a variety of herbs and spices. While anise is the most prominent flavor, ouzo recipes also include fennel, mastic, cinnamon, coriander, peppermint, ginger, cardamom, angelica root, cloves, linden, and a bouquet of other aromatics. For the past century, however, most producers took the easy route. "Instead of starting with the real raw material—pressed grapes, skins, and the tendrils of the plant—they started buying ready-made alcohol… and flavored it with anise seed oil and just boiled it down to the degrees they needed, between 48 percent and 52 percent.
Traditionally OUZO - grapes are left to shrivel, concentrating their sugars, then distilled, aged in barrels, and blended with muscat wine and a "secret ingredient." The bottom-shelf variety, three stars, is traditionally drunk at Greek funerals to aid the local proverb that "there's no wedding without tears, no funeral without laughter."
Now we turn to another novel drink from the island of Chios. Mastiha it is made from the resin of the mastic tree, from which English derives the verb masticate. The ROOTS distillery transforms the renowned sap into a liquor that smells like fresh-sawn wood and slips effortlessly down the gullet. Of all the drinks that claim digestive properties, mastiha may be the only one with some scientific chops because of its antibacterial properties. At very least, it makes your breath smell nice. Greek bartenders have harnessed mastiha's pleasant sweetness and unique taste by substituting it for rum in a mojito, creating a chimeric cocktail infused with flavors of Greece dubbed the "mastijito."

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