Autumn means grapes harvest! The harvest brings along local festivities that take place around Crete throughout the fall months, where people celebrate the start of the wine-making process. But wine is not the only treasure we get from grapes. Raki or “tsikoudia” is another invaluable drink produced that is as much of a part of our Cretan diet as feta and olive oil!
Raki counts back to centuries ago and is a drink beloved by the locals, as well as many visitors who keep coming back. Containing 37° of alcohol, it is fair to say not everyone can handle “tsikoudia”, though one often gets acquainted with the taste over time. For those who like it sweeter, raki is made with additional ingredients, such as honey, bergamot, cinnamon and many other ingredients. A moderate amount of raki is proven to have a good effect on your health and, needless to say, it makes a great digestive! Now you know, why it is served to you as a treat after a meal at a Cretan taverna 😉
November is the month many of Cretans get into the production of raki. Of course, to start the production right you need to throw a party! These festivities involve great home-made food, music and dances, and, obviously, lots of wine and raki. Often, the distillation process of the very first raki of the year is happening right at the spot in the giant bronze cauldrons. With a big crowd, it can be quite a spectacle!
In case you happen to be in Crete around this time of the year, make sure to visit a raki festivity to immerse yourself in the very essence of Cretan culture!