Georgian wines and national cuisine
"That which we give makes us richer, that which is hoarded is lost" Shota Rustaveli, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, 12th century
If you even find yourself in Georgia then you should attend a traditional Georgian feast, called a Supra! It will be like travelling back in time and experiencing the present as you toast the future. Supra simply denotes an ordinary tablecloth in Georgian, but this is not just an ordinary meal; this is a meeting of generations where everyone is given an opportunity to wish those around them a long and healthy life. It is a chance to celebrate the living and to pay homage to those who are no longer with us. The revered master of ceremony - the tamada – knows all the guests and directs the feast from beginning to end; he will you captivate you with ancient toasts and treat you with traditional Georgian hospitality. Even the most sophisticated food-lover would struggle to remain indifferent to the celebrated Georgian cuisine, and the songs of the polyphonic Georgian choir and their national dances will provide an experience you will remember for the rest of your life!
A feast for the skier and the food-lover
The national Georgian cuisine is a real feast for the palate and even the most sophisticated connoisseur of gourmet food will find a dish after his own heart! The Georgian culinary recipes and gastronomic philosophy relies on the contrast of the spicy and the hot; like any other national cuisine it is based on local products, specific to the Caucasus, which have led to certain dishes acquiring renown around the world.
Georgian cuisine reserves an important place for spicy herbs and nuts: hazelnuts, beechnuts, almonds, but above all – walnuts are a must-have ingredient for various condiments and sauces for fowl, vegetables, and even fish. Nuts are also used in meat soups, pastries, salads, and main courses.
Cold starters include lobio, or bean-based dishes; pkhali, which contains young nettles, beetroot leaves and spinach; and dishes with egg-plant, walnuts and garlic. Cheeses are particularly important: Georgian cheeses are very different from European ones in terms of flavor and are used in very different ways in starters, first and second courses. Almost every region in Georgia boasts its own variety of cheese: Samegrelo is famous for Sulguni, Imereti offers Gadazelili, a very soft cheese with mint; and Tusheti prefers Guda, a sheep’s cheese.
Like French cuisine, the Georgian cuisine offers a wide variety of hot and sour sauces, the taste, flavor and piquancy of which are vastly different from the better known sauces of the international cuisine. The most widely used sauces are various types of adjika made from hot peppers, prune-based tkemali, and satsebeli which contains tomatoes and sweet pepper. Baje, very spicy gravy made from ground walnuts with garlic and wine vinegar and served with meat and fish, is considered a special festive sauce.
The better known Georgian soups are kharcho, a beef broth with rice, walnuts and a special sour foundation of plums, chikhirtma, a soup of mutton, chicken or turkey meat with an egg base, and khashi, a very thick broth made with cow’s feet and stomach and served with ground garlic and dried lavash.
Khinkali are big juicy ravioli sprayed with black ground pepper and are considered a special meat dish. Khinkali are usually served as the main and only dish for a meal called khinklaoba or khinkali feast. The best known festive dish is satsivi, spicy cold chicken or turkey ragout with ground walnuts. Also served on frequent occasions are oven-baked piglets, chakhokhbili, meat and Georgian-style fried chicken.
Various types of khachapuri – bread stuffed with cheese – are baked in different regions of Georgia, of which the most popular are Adjara style and Imeruli khachapuri, penovani (flaky dough khachapuri) and achma (cooked dough with cheese). Corn bread and various corn flour flatbreads are common in Western Georgia, while wheat bread is the preferred variety in Eastern Georgia.
The cradle of wine-making
"Wines are something eternal, a foundation of the economy and everyday life, the outlook and character of the Georgian people." Proverbial Saying
Georgia deserves its reputation as one of the first main areas in which vines appeared and as the motherland of viniculture. During archaeological excavations in Georgia, several thousand year old jugs with vestiges of grape seeds and also wine-making equipment – stone presses and various clay and metal vessels, were found among the remnants of the Bronze Age. The Georgians’ love of the grape vine is expressed in legends, ancient tales and songs. Even when Christianity was introduced in the 4th century a grapevine cross was used as a symbol of unity of the people's faith and the national treasure.
The country's major viniculture and wine making region is Kakheti in Eastern Georgia, and the Alazan valley is Kakheti's most famous wine making area: fertile soil, a gentle climate, abundant waters and forests, and diverse and luscious nature make the famous Kakheti valley, which is a genuinely sacred place for any Georgian, a true cradle of the noble grape wine.
Georgia's best known white wines are: Tsinandali, the pride of Georgian winemakers and a superior white wine with an excellent fruity bouquet and a gentle and refined taste; Mtsvane, a dry white wine of light straw color with a fresh and harmonious taste; Saperavi, Kindzmarauli, Mukuzani and Khvanchkara are quality red wines with an intense dark red color and pronounced fruity bouquets.