Introducing the Mavro Grape Variety of Cyprus

Mavro is the most commonly cultivated red grape variety in Cyprus, accounting for more than 40% of grape production

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Mavro is the most commonly cultivated red grape variety in Cyprus, accounting for more than 40% of grape production, yet you are unlikely to see the variety used to organise the contents of a wine list or store. How could this be? It turns out that its ubiquity in the vineyard is due in part to its many uses—it is one of very few grapes that can be eaten, made into wine, and distilled. Mavro grapes are often served fresh at the Cypriot dinner table—but look around that table, and you will find other adaptations of the grape. Juice from the grapes is used to make palouzes (grape jellies) and soutzoukos (candle-shaped sweets). A young wine made at home with the grapes is an essential ingredient in Cypriot sausages and cured meats. The vine yields a high quantity of large, dense clusters of thick-skinned grapes with a very dark colour (‘mavro’ mean black in Greek). Mavro grapes are used with white xynisteri grapes in the production of Commandaria, the legendary dessert wine unique to Cyprus; after they are over-ripened on the vine, picked, and dried in the sun, the grapes are pressed, fermented, and aged before bottling. The residue from pressing the grapes, known as the pomace, forms the basis for another Cypriot speciality—zivania, a potent distillation enjoyed with meze throughout the island. Recently, producers of premium wines have cultivated the variety at a high altitude with excellent results. These grapes are blended with other varieties to create worthy reds and rosés. Check out the many uses of the mavro grape at Mediterraneo, Annabelle’s seaside taverna.