Tradition of Georgian winemaking
Georgia is a country where humans first discovered the art of winemaking. Georgia is the oldest wine producing region in the world. The fertile valleys of thesouth Caucasus, which Georgia straddles, are believed by many archaeologists to be the source of the world’s first cultivated grapevinesand neolithic wine production, over 8,000 years ago. Due to the many millennia of wine in Georgian history, the traditions of its viticulture are entwined and inseparable with the country’s national identity.
Among the best-known regions of Georgia where wine is produced are Kakheti (further divided onto micro-regions of Telavi and Kvareli,Kartli,Imereti, racha-lechkhumi and kvemo Svaneti, and Abkhazia.
For many centuries winemaking was not only the basis of economic riches of Georgia but also a part of its spiritual culture. Wine for a Georgian is not just a drink. Wine is more like a religion there. Wine strengthens the national spirit, and unites guests of traditional Caucasian feasts. Grapevine is mentioned in the Georgian legends, stories and songs. Wine in Georgia is the national asset attracting tourists from all over the world.
Historically Georgia was the territory where winemaking cult prospered. Today nobody can tell when and where from the first grapevine appeared there, but the climate reigning there promoted the amber grape bunches growth. The grape leaves traces related to past geological epochs found on the territory of Georgia ; the jugs with the remains of grape seeds found in ancient burial places testify to the fact that Georgia was one of the progenitresses of winemaking. Winemaking equipment found by archeologists on the territory of the country – stone wine presses, various wine vessels from clay and metal related to the 3 rd – 2 nd millennia B.C. – are just other proofs. Of the deep roots of winemaking speak the grapevine images on huge dug-in conic vessels intended for wine storage – “kvevri” found in the settlements whose age, according to archeologists, is around 8,000 years old.
In process of wine growing and winemaking in Georgia appeared the most valuable grapes; people began to distinguish vines types and develop local ways of wine manufacture. Eastern Georgia – ancient Kakhetia has always been the centre of grapes cultivation and wine manufacturing. Alazani valley is the most glorified winemaking area of Kakhetia. Its unique geographical position, proximity of rivers, wind protection by the mountains of the Major Caucasus and the fertile soils of the valley create perfect conditions for cultivation of grapes resulting in really magnificent wines. Kakhetian wines are distinguished by original bouquet and taste.
Georgian food combines Turkish, Greek, Arabic, and even Indian influences. It is often spicy, flavored especially with coriander, tarragon, and khmeli suneli (a mixture of spices). Hot and cold dishes are served with side dishes of tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, sulguni (a cheese), and puri (unleavened bread baked in an open brick oven).
A typical festive table ( supra) might consist of puréed beets and spinach sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, khachapuri (a baked cheese bread), satsivi (chicken in walnut sauce), chanakhi (a lamb and vegetable stew), tolma (minced meat wrapped in vine leaves), and badrizhani nivrit (eggplant with garlic).
Wine is an essential part of any meal. Georgians make a wide variety of red wines (such as Mukuzani ) and white wines (such as Tsinandali ).
Regional differences in cuisine are pronounced. In the west, one is more likely to eat mchadi (cornbread) and cheese bread such as Acharuli , which has an egg baked in the middle of the cheese and dough.