Tsipouro is an authentic Greek product closely intertwined with the Greek lifestyle, hospitality, and entertainment. It is produced by distilling the grape marc.
High-quality grapes are integral to the production of superior tsipouro. Factors such as the grape variety, soil composition, the vineyard’s altitude and orientation, the cultivation practices and the year of harvest, play a crucial role in determining the end-product.
During the distillation process, the distillers’ skill and know-how are shown in their ability to capture the grapes’ aromatic characteristics as they emerge during the fermentation of the grape marc and in adding their personal touch to the final distillate. In certain regions of Greece, aromatic seeds or plants (such as anise, fennel, saffron, walnut tree leaves, etc) are also added in quantities and at proportions that are well-kept secrets of each producer.
Certain distillates may be selected and left to age in oak casks for a number of years to impart the characteristics of spices, dried fruits, vanilla, chocolate, smoky aromas, hints of leather, barrel wood, and so on, depending on the type of tsipouro and the ageing conditions. Tsipouro that has not aged in oak casks primarily displays fruity and flowery characteristics rather than spicy ones.
Tsipouro was first produced by monks of the 14th century. This idea of using the residues of the wine-making process in order to produce a distilled spirit was gradually passed on to viticulturists, giving birth to the viticulture product called tsipouro was born.
Tsipouro is consumed as an aperitif before a meal, accompanied by appetizers. It makes an excellent accompaniment to a variety of pungent-tasting meat and seafood dishes, to matured cheese and to processed meat products, not to mention pure earthy dishes such as pickles, grilled wild mushrooms, tomatoes in sea salt, olives on home-made rusks and oven-baked potatoes. Tsipouro may also put the finishing touch on a rich meal, thanks to its sharp taste and digestive properties. It is enjoyed to the full when served cool at 10ºC or with a small quantity of ice.
Source: My Little Greek Foodbook