When we think of wine, we think of France or Italy as the usual source. We are more familiar with the Bordeaux of France or Chianti of Italy. But what most people don’t know is that Georgia, a republic of the former Soviet Union and situated in between Europe and Asia, is considered as one of the oldest and biggest makers of wine.
Having fertile land and ideal climate allows Georgia to produce excellent wine. It has made more than 90 million bottles to several countries, including to Russia and China. The geography and landscape of Georgia contributes to the success of its grape production, and this winegrowing or viticulture industry has ever since been heavily intertwined with their culture.
The manner of winemaking of Georgia has made it to the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. Dating back thousands of years, Georgia makes use of clay vessels, called qvevris to store and ferment grapes and buried underground. These qvevris are large earthenware vessels that are egg-shaped and lined with beeswax on its insides. Since the bottom of the qvevris is pointed, it makes the wine sediments settle there and the wine collected in the middle part.
This method of their viticulture is unique compared with the style of other wine-producing countries. Because of their suitable weather contributing to its ideal ground temperature, it has produced around 500 varieties of grape in present-day Georgia.
During the Soviet era, the wines of Georgia have been very popular and the preferred kind of the Soviet nations. However, political issues and tensions during the 1980s and the 2000s has led to the bans on Georgia’s wine production and importation, as well as sabotaging its wine industry by claiming that Georgia’ wine are “counterfeit”. Currently, Georgia’s agreement with the European Union aims to expand its exportation initiatives and prevent any sort of bans by Russia.
Georgia currently produces wine through the vineyards of thousands of small farmers who still use the traditional wine-making. Wine making practices are passed on from one generation to the next, thus every member of the family learns how to make wine, even from a young age. Wine drinking is an essential part of every Georgian’s life, whether it’s for a celebration or part of a meal.
Georgia has around 400 grape varieties, of which 38 are used for wine production. Georgia’s wines are typically classified into 6 types: semi-sweet, sweet, semi-dry, dry, sparkling, and fortified. The sem-sweet type is the most preferred and well-liked among Georgians. Produced from either the red and white grapes, the wines are named after the region or place it was sourced from.
Among the wines from the white varieties are Pirosmani, Tvishi, Anakopia, Khikhvi, Gelati, Gareji, and Shuamta. The red varieties produce the Akhasheni, Kindzmarauli, Mukuzani, Saperavi, Barakoni, and Alazani. Georgia’s wines’ tastes range from rich fruity taste to those possessing various hints or flavors of vanilla and chocolate. The beautiful and vivid wine colors vary from light golden to dark ruby red. These best tasting and quality wines have been enjoyed not just by some of the Soviet leaders, but by everyone in Georgia. Wine is their life, so to speak.
Tzarevna New York serves some of these world famous Georgian wines! Reserve a table today and taste the goodness of these and see why the world is taken by them.