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Armenian Brandy and other Drinks

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July 31, 2014 / International / By
Rachael

 

 

Photo credit: commons wikipedia

Armenian Brandy is renowned throughout the world and became very popular at the 1945 Yalta Conference when Stalin served the drink to Churchill. Declaring the brandy to be the finest he had ever tasted Churchill, often received bottles of Armenia's finest cognac from Stalin for several years. The story goes that one day Churchill remarked to Stalin that his favourite brandy did not taste the same and was not as good. he wanted to know what had happened. It transpired that the brandy tester had been imprisoned during one of Stalin's purges and he was quickly released to ensure Armenia's brandy was produced to a high standard and international relations were maintained with Winston Churchill.

Armenian brandy is produced in differing qualities and many of the distilleries are in Yerevan. At the lower end of the scale is three star which has been kept in a cask for three years. Stars indicate the age of the brandy up to six years, and following that there are names. At the Ararat factory Ani indicates six years, Select is seven, Akhtamar is ten, and Celebratory fifteen years. Nairi brandy is twenty years old. Brandy makes an excellent souvenir from Armenia and just has to be tasted when visiting the country.Most is exported to Russia.

Vodka is also produced in Armenia and there are many small distilleries all over the country. It is also very common to find people distilling their own vodka in ther homes. This is often flavoured with apricots, mulberries and even grapes. Wine is also produced in Armenia but on a small scale. Grape varieties such as Rkatsiteli are found here as well as in neighbouring Georgia and make a pleasant white wine. Red wines are also produced in Armenia.

Another popular drink is Armenian coffee which is strong and of excellent quality. Black coffee is known as sev surch and often accompanied by brandy at the end of a meal. Long handled copper pots are used to heat beans and the coffee is served in small cups and similar to the Turkish style. When sweetened with sugar it is known as "normal". Armenians also drink thyme tea which is popular as well as infusions made from herbs gathered from the hills. Some of these teas are delicious.

In Armenia anyone offered an alcoholic drink should be aware of the social etiquette involved. At a table there will be a tamada or toast master. No one drinks alcohol without a toast. Whilst women can be excused, men are expected to drink at every toast made by the tamada. This originated as a way of regulating drinking at the various celebrations but in reality the tamada sometimes becomes inebriated themselves and forces everyone else to continue. Toasts can also be very long as everyone is remembered. The hospitality is legendary.

Armenia is renowned for its various drinks which are worth looking out for when in the country. Just remember to follow the toasts at the gatherings and taste the distinctive flavours of teas, vodkas, wines, and of course brandy.


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