Zivania or zivana (Greek: ζιβανία, ζιβάνα) is a Cypriot alcoholic beverage. Zivania is a distillate produced from a mixture of grape pomace and local dry wines created from Cyprus grape varieties of Xynisteri and Mavro. The distillation of zivania takes place in special apparatus similar to those used for the production of tsikoudia in Crete. Zivania is characterized by its taste and aroma. It is colorless and alcoholic with a light aroma of raisins. Its alcohol content varies, with 45% by volume being the typical value. Zivania contains no sugars and has no acidity.
Zivania has been produced in Cyprus since the time the Republic of Venice ruled the island, around the end of the 15th century. Evidence of its continued production during Ottoman and British rule of the island comes from writers such as the British writer Samuel Baker who in 1879 reports: "...the refuse of skins and stalks is laid upon one side to ferment for the manufacture of raki, or spirit, by distillation...". Since 1989, zivania has been protected under EU regulations a name for grape marc produced in Cyprus.
In order to produce zivania of the highest grade, mature healthy grapes of the best quality are used. The grape must used for the fermentation should be of less than 13° Baumé, in order to get complete fermentation. As soon as the fermentation process completes (i.e. producing less or equal to 0° Baumé reading) the wine and pomace mixture is transferred to the main container of the distillation apparatus, called kazani (Greek: καζάνι) and the distillation process begins. The first zivania that comes from the distiller has the highest alcohol content, while the last taken out of the apparatus has a low alcohol content and it is called porakos (Greek: πόρακος). Depending on the pre-distillation mixture, different qualities of zivania are produced:
- Zivania produced by using only wine the distillation
- Zivania produced by using wine and pomace for the distillation
- Zivania produced by using pomace, water and weak zivania
Storage and transportation
Zivania is usually stored in clean wooden or galvanised metal containers that can be sealed in order to contain evaporation. During transportation good care is taken not to damage the containers or allowing leakage or evaporation.
In Cyprus, other than enjoying zivania as an alcoholic drink, it is used for several other purposes. Zivania is used to treat wounds, for massaging sore body parts, as a remedy for colds and toothaches or as a warming-up drink during the cold months of winter, especially in the villages of the Troodos mountains.
In old times[when?], the main alcoholic drinks Cypriots consumed were wine and zivania. In some villages of Cyprus, cinnamon was added to zivania giving it a nice red color and a fine aroma and flavor. As zivania ages it gains a stronger flavor and aroma. Aged zivania has been valued very highly and is kept for consumption during special occasions or as a welcoming treat for visitors. Even nowadays at some villages in Cyprus, locals will welcome visitors with zivania served with dried nuts, Turkish delight, soutzoukos or small appetizers like Cypriot loukaniko, lountza and tsamarella.
To establish the authenticity of zivania chemical studies were contacted to investigate which of the metals analyzed constitute diagnostic parameters that establish authenticity. The results of the studies establish that zivania is related to the unique geological and climatic conditions existing on the island of Cyprus.
A bottle of Cypriot Zivania.
- Xynisteri 1.jpg
Xynisteri grapes used in the production of zivania.
Mavro grapes used in the production of zivania.
- Pomace brandy
- Chacha (brandy)
- Samuel W. Baker (1879). Cyprus, as I Saw it in 1879. Project Gutenberg (Etext edition, 2003). p. 120. ISBN 1-84637-912-1.
- " The name ‘grape marc’ or ‘grape marc spirit’ may be replaced by the designation Zivania solely for the spirit drink produced in Cyprus." http://eur-law.eu/EN/Council-Regulation-EEC-No-1576-89-29-May,400044,d
- Authenticity of the Traditional Cypriot Spirit "Zivania" on the Basis of H NMR Spectroscopy Diagnostic Parameters and Statistical Analysis 
- Authenticity of the traditional Cypriot spirit zivania