Raki, Ouzo, Retsina and Metaxa.
After the wine is made, the left over peels and juice are used to make raki. The peels and juice are put in bags or plastic barrels of about 20 kilos. This has to ferment for about 40 days. After that, the mush is distilled until a very strong alcoholic beverage is formed. This is called ‘raki’, the traditional drink of the Cretans. Raki is also called Tzikoudia. The taste is similar to Slivoviths from Croatia or like the Austrian schnapps.
It is served in a small carafe, usually with a small snack, like a piece of goat’s cheese, some olives or a piece of tomato and cucumber.
‘Protoraki’ comes from the first press. This raki contains so much alcohol (50 to 60%) that it is used as a medicine to disinfect small wounds and cure a cold. It has also proven its use on people with long problems. A glass is placed on the back, which creates an airtight seal and takes the cold out of the longs.
The Greek national drink is called ‘Ouzo’. This drink tastes like anise. You can compare it with the Pernod from France. It is served with a glass of water, so it can be diluted.
There is also wine that tastes like resin, which is called ‘Retsina’. There is a story that says wine was kept in sheep fur in the past. The sheep fur was used to make bags which were made water tight with resin. This explains the resin taste of Retsina. However, when they started to use bottles and jugs instead of bags, Retsina lost its specific taste. By adding resin to the wine they kept this familiar taste.
Greece also has its own brandy. It actually is an imitation, where the brand name became the name of the product. There are three different qualities of the brandy, where the amount of stars stands for the quality; 3, 5 and 7 stars Metaxa. It is said that the 5 star Metaxa is the best, because the 3 star is too bitter and the 7 star too sweet. So you know what to order with your coffee tonight.