Cyprus Wine Competition


The traditional drink of Cyprus

The cultivation of vineyards and the production of wine in Cyprus date back to the ancient times. Evidence of these practices is found in archaeological findings, in a number of inscriptions and in references by geographers and philosophers of antiquity. The inscription «χαίρε και πίει εύ» (rejoice and drink well) on an ancient goblet at Marion testifies to Cypriots’ love for wine and spirit.

Alcohol, being one of the main products of wine, was known since the ancient times. Aristotle refers to it as the “distillation of wine”. Its healing properties were used by Hippocrates and Galen. The word “alcohol” comes from the Arabic term “al – kohhlu”, meaning a very fine by-product of wine.

Distillation is a continuation of the practice of fermentation, where a sugar-based solution is converted into alcohol by the fermentation of yeast. Although the procedure of distillation through the use of a simple alembic or still dates back to the Alexandrine period, the method was not perfected until later on the 12th century, when Venetian alchemists brought their own method of distillation to Cyprus.

Through the use of a technique of their own devise, Cypriot farmers took distillates from the remnants of winemaking (known as zivana), which they used as a drink or for medicinal purposes. Consequently, the distillate became known as Zivania.

The enactment of the “Regulation and Control of the Wine Product Industry (Control of Zivania)” Regulations of 1998 abolished colonial decree no. 334 of 1949, which prohibited the distribution of Zivania and restricted its production to small quantities for individual consumption by the winegrowers alone.

According to the regulations, “Zivania”, Tzivania”, or “Zivana” is the distillate taken from the simple distillation of grape marc, with or without wine lees, and with or without wine, up to 52% Vol at 20 ºC.

Traditionally, the zivana were exclusively derived from the indigenous varieties of Local Mavro and Xynisteri. However, it is permitted to use a grape variery, other than a traditional one, as long as its name is stated on the product’s label.

Zivania can be produced only from the fermentation of grapes that are not rotten, squashed or diseased. The method applied is the same as that of producing red wine, that is to say, natural grape mark is fermented without the addition of a preservative (SO2). In the case where wine is produced, the remaining grape mark may be used to distillate; In this case, it is permitted to add a quantity of wine that does not exceed the quantity of marc. Likewise it is permitted to add wine lees that take up to 2% of the volume of the product to be distilled.

A Zivania production unit is subject to the Food (Control and Sale) Laws of 1996 to 2003 and the regulations issued in pursuance thereof. Furthermore, either an A’ class spirit drinks producer’s license or a Zivania producer license is required, granted by the Director of the Department of Customs and Excise. The right to use the name “Zivania” requires a Certificate of Use issued by the Wine Products Council.

Currently, the following producers hold a Certificate of Use of a Certified Trademark 45092 “ZIVANIA” or “TZIVANIA” or “ZIVANA”.

No. Name Producer Bottling Plant
1. Christ. Hadjipavlou & Sons Ltd.
2. ETKO Ltd
3. G. Thoukis Wines & Spirits Ltd
5. Kykkos Monastery Winery
6. Koulla Iacovou
7. LOEL Ltd
8. M & G. Pantelides Bros Ltd
9. Nicholas Ignatiou & Sons Distillery Ltd.
10. Omodos Winery Zenon Ltd.
11. Petros Koullas & Sons Ltd
12. Petros Petrides & Co Ltd.
13. Platanico Wines & Spirits Ltd
14. SODAP Ltd
15. Vinco Ltd
16. Yfadi Commercial and Industrial Co. Ltd.
18. M. Antoniades Wineries LTD


The “Regulation and Control of the Wine Products Industry (Control of Zivania)” Regulations of 1998 also provide for specific indications that must be stated on the main label of Zivania package.

The rise in the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Cyprus, that is partly due to imported ones, in conjunction with the desire to maintain and reinforce the level of consumption of indigenous spirit drinks, led to the necessity to reassess certain aspects such as the authenticity of Zivania in respect to its traditional characteristics and to initiate a procedure that would lead to its standardization. To enable this, the Chemistry Department of Cyprus University in collaboration with the WPC, were engaged on a scientific research aiming to identify and record the particular characteristics and “purity” of Zivania in order to come up with a viable methodology that validates the authenticity of the drink and distinguishes it from forged products or imitations originated from other distillates.

It is recommended that the consumer, for his/her own legitimate protection and certainly for health concerns, must be assured that the spirit drink he or she consumes, labeled Zivania, is indeed authentic and approved, that is made by a licensed producer.

Acknowledging the value and popularity of Zivania, the name was safeguarded through the Treaty of the Accession of Cyprus to the European Union and during the first post-accession period, the WPC achieved its protection under Regulation EC 1576/89, in which it is clearly specified that the appellation “Zivania” can replace the term “marc distillate” only in the case of the alcoholic beverage produced in Cyprus.