Tsikoudia or raki is the translucent alcoholic drink produced from grapes everywhere in Crete and of course in Chania.
Tsikoudia is not produced from must, as wine is. It is a product of distillation that comes from grapes after they are boiled. The crushed grapes are gathered after they are pressed and placed in special cauldrons that are either traditional or manufactured.
Tsikoudia or raki in accordance with current legislation should have 37.5 % alcohol and its maximum alcohol content of methanol should not exceed 8 grams per liter. Also, the distillatories must be licensed.
All villages have their ‘amvikes’, i.e. the cauldrons of raki. This is where the grapes are placed and hermetically sealed. The pots are placed on the fire and the content boils until it reaches the appropriate temperature for the evaporation of the liquid, i.e. the distillation.
From the lid of the cistern begins a tube, which is usually cooled externally with water, to condense the steam, which is in fact the tsikoudia.
The “protoraki” is the first distillate, which runs from the cauldron. Its alcohol percentage is very high and therefore its consumption is not permitted.
The distillation is always realized in a festive atmosphere. The producers are gathered in areas where the boil takes place and eat, drink and dance for hours as the steam flows out as tsikoudia and is sealed into the bottles.