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Ouzo festival cheer on Lesvos

- by Dabs Banner

Holiday visitors to the Greek Islands of Lesvos have been enjoying the taste of ouzo in what has been dubbed the 'ouzo capital of Greece.'

The Lesvos Ouzo Fest 2015 has made its last stop in the south coast resort town of Plomari following a month-long tour of the island.

Plomari is famous across the world for its ouzo with four companies based there – Arvaniti, Barbayanni, Giannatsi and Pitsiladi – making Greek ouzo the traditional way.

The Barbayanni firm has its own museum of ouzo in Plomari, located near Agios Isidoros in Plomari, which welcomes thousands of visitors each year.

Each year at the end of July the ouzo makers link up with the town hall of Plomari, organize the famous Lesvos Ouzo Festival to promote events that attracts Greeks from all over the country as well as tourists worldwide.

Not only have visitors been tasting the different varieties of ouzo, but they have also been tucking into local foods, listening to live traditional Greek music and enjoying the dancing throughout the three-day event.

The Lesvos Ouzo Fest 2015 started out in early July and has already held events in the resorts of Perama and Molyvos.

Plomari, on the south coast, is the second largest town on the island after Mytilini and packed with tavernas, restaurants and cafes where ouzo is served all year round.

In 2006, Greece won the right to label ouzo as an exclusively Greek product and the European Union gives ouzo a protected designation of origin status, which prohibits manufacturers outside Greece from using the name.

The origin of the name ouzo has been in dispute for years, but most think it comes from the Turkish 'uzum', a word for grapes.

Ouzo is made by distilling 96% alcohol in copper stills together with anise and other flavorings, such as star anise, coriander, cloves, and cinnamon.

The product is a flavored alcoholic solution known as ouzo yeast although no fermentation occurs. Sugar and water may be added, but Greek law states that at least 20% of the final alcohol must come from ouzo yeast.

Ouzo production, unlike that for tsipouro, another similar Greek alcoholic drink, doesn't include any fermentation or multiple distillations.

Ouzeries can be found all over modern-day Greece where they serve ouzo with mezes appetisers such as octopus, sardines and kalamari. It is traditionally mixed with water to turn it milky and slowly sipped with food. The Lesvos Ouzo Fest is one of the most anticipated events in the island calendar