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Lysistrata And The Mystery Of Kalecik Wines – OpEd

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Lysistrata is a one-act theatrical play written by Aristophanes in BC 411. The play, which is thought to have been staged for the first time in the spring of BC411, is considered one of the first anti-war plays in the history of theatre. It is about the events that develop when the women who are tired of waiting for their men to return from the war, decide not to share their beds with the men in order to end the war. When the men fail to put an end to the war, Lysistrata thinks that women should take over and force peace. First they will refuse to have sleep with their men, then they will seize the Acropolis, the state reserve money stored in the Parthenon, and they will collapse the war power of Athens. Lysistrata gathers women, including Lampito of Sparta and women from other hostile states. Although the women are reluctant at first, they accept Lysistrata’s plan and vow to carry it out. It is Aristophanes’ third play. Known as the author’s best established, most humane comedy, the play has been staged by hundreds of theater companies in many countries around the world.

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A similar incident was described in the movie “The Shalwar Case”. I will tell you another similar incident today. “Kalecik Karası” grapes, known by the name of the same place, are grown in Kalecik, a small county of Ankara. Local investors who want to produce grapes, they rent vacant areas from Treasury for 49 years. The investor makes the land suitable for agriculture, then plants of “Kalecik Karası” grapes and looks after them. In about 5-7 years, the vines grow, develop, and begin to produce large-seeded local black grapes. These grapes are not for table consumption. Grape juice is squeezed, then grape juice is used to make vinegar, molasses and wine. Some regional villages have grown these grapes in their own places for centuries, some of them have seriously aged wines.

Landowners who want to make wine for industrial sales, collect the grapes with day-to-day agricultural workers, load them on trucks, and take them to nearby wineries during the vintage season. Some sell them all to nearby factories, some buy them in bottled or oak barrels in exchange for grapes. These young wines are aged, bottled after 2-4 years and then released to the market. There are VinArt, Kavaklıdere and Diren wineries producing Kalecik Karası wines in the county. Kalecik Karası is also produced on the slopes of Alacati, Thrace and Cappadocia in other regions, but the plants of these regions are mixed with other grapes and are genetically degraded. Therefore, it is necessary to prioritize the grapes and factories of Kalecik region for Kalecik Karası wine.

In one of these factories, factory managers wondered, “How is traditional wine produced in nearby villages?”, Local people of nearby villages produce wine, but they do not put it on the market, they consume it domestically. Few are on sale at the weekly open farmer’s market, with little offered to guests as courtesy during family home visits.

Managers then send mostly male food engineers to the nearby village cafe to learn how to make wine locally. Young people enter the cafe, greets a group of old men and then they ask about the local winemaking method. A grandfather, who is a leader among the elderly, twists his machete mustache, then explained the situation as follows: “I don’t know how to make wine, I just drink a fair amount every day. Women make wine here.”

Young people go to the fountain this time, they ask the same question there, the women answer, “Women make wine here, what happens to you men?” They see that this business of information gathering is not working, they cannot get information, the young woman among food engineers has been sent to the fountain. Village women take the young female food engineers to their homes and explain the traditional wine-making ritual in detail.

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During the vintage period, from mid-August to the beginning of October, the grapes on the vines are picked by the men, these grapes are squeezed by the men as only washed from the rain, the grape juice is filled indoors in wooden barrels that were buried in the ground centuries ago, there is always yeast in the barrels. The lids are closed. Every month, the covers are opened and the foam created on the top is removed. When the first young wine is produced in six months or a year, then it is pumped into aging barrels, aged there, and then bottled. The wine is presented to their father. Of course, good wine is given to a good father. The mother of the house does not give good wine to the man of the house who treats her badly, they only make vinegar that year. The fathers don’t know about the elders’ winemaking, but they drink the finest home-made wine all year.

After hearing this story, I went to the nearest kiosk in the city. I found the 2020 production of Diren Winery’s red Kalecik Karası wine, it had a price of 65 liras before Christmas, now it is sold for 85 liras. There are various fruit flavors with a predominance of plum, no alcohol is felt, no astringency, no acid.

Go to the public bazaar of Kalecik district for vintage, if you are respectful and polite, maybe they will give you half a glass for a tasting as courtesy.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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