Wine museum in Cyprus was opened in November 2004, after 6 years of hard work (1998-2004) in restoring, expanding and decorating the 150 year old stone building.
A long time ago, the building was an inn, where the wine merchants from the wine villages of Limassol and Paphos used to meet, and overnight on their way to Limassol main market. So, we can understand that wine was enjoyed in this building over the last 100 years.
Erimi village, where the museum is located, is the sharing point of the cultivation of grapes and production of wine in Europe, with history of more than 5500 years.
Excursion around the wine museum
If you come to the museum for an excursion, you will find different sections representing the wine making in Cyprus.
In the Archaic section (800 B.C. to 30 B.C.), one can find two copies of mosaics from the house of Dionysus in Paphos. The first depicts the myth of Ikarius and the First Wine Drinkers. The other mosaics depicts the triumph of Dionysus. There is also a collection of jugs and bowls, dating from 2300 BC-30 BC.
The Greeks used to believe that wine was a divine gift and they used to treat it with great care and respect. They were also very strict regarding the misuse of wine. Any Greek caught drunk in public, was thoroughly punished by the whole Community; even at their symposiums, only 4 goblets of wine were ever offered.
In the ancient times, the Greeks used to drink only diluted wine. The first goblet of wine offered, was not diluted; however, this was not intended for consumption and was poured on the floor as an aid to prayer to Dionysus. The second goblet, was offered (diluted) in order to prepare symposiums for spiritual conversation. The third goblet, was offered in order to prepare their stomach for a substantial meal, and the last goblet offered, was intended as preparation to retire to bed.
The meaning of wine in the Christians period, is presented in the section of Roman and Byzantine period (30 BC to 1191 AD). Wine and the symbolism of vineyards, have a special place in Christianity. In as much as vineyards and their cultivation are a part of daily life, so are wine and vineyards part of the teaching of the Christian faith. Together with consecrated bread and olive oil, they form the Holy Trinity, which Orthodox Christians treat with respect and affection. Wine, symbolizes the blood of Christ and the Holy Communion, while vineyards symbolize the world and the faithfulness.
The Byzantine era, ceased in Cyprus in the XII century. After it was conquered by King Richard the Lionheart, Cyprus was sold to The Knights Templar, who set up their headquarters at the Kolossi Castle for a year until 1192, when the Lusignans took possession of the island.
In Medieval banquets, the guests were seated only on the one side of the table, so that they could follow the spectacles presented and to make the serving easier. Cups of tin or silver, sometimes even wood, were often used and the servants presented to the guests, then serving and toasting was following, according to a strict protocol. Ladies, drank only from golden and silver cups. Various texts, inform us of the kinds of wine presented in formal banquets. First in line came the Mediterranean wines, those of Cyprus, of Malvasia and of Italy. Then followed the French. Cyprus wines are often cited first.
Wine-tasting in Erimi’s wine museum
On the lower ground floor, is the wine-tasting room – St.Hillarion Hall, were wines from 38 wineries of Cyprus, are displayed in a series of alcoves in the stone walls and the serving bar, is made up from large wine casks.
Here, visitors can relax and enjoy some of the different wines, accompanied by traditional Cyprus delicacies and attend a brief lecture about grape varieties and wine regions of Cyprus. Occasionally, seminars about the methods of wine tasting, the history of Cyprus wine and generally about the wine tradition of the island, are held in the museum.
Guests of the museum are welcomed daily, from 9 am until 7 pm. The cost of wine-tasting, including the excursion, a film, a tasting of 2 wines and some Commandaria with bread and raisins, halloumi cheese and jam from grape juice (kiofteri) and zivania, is only 7 euro per person.