Traditional Georgian Wine
There’s nowhere on earth that scientists have found older evidence of wine production than in Georgia, where they’ve discovered sediment from wine dating back 8,000 years. Scientists say 8,000-year-old pottery fragments have revealed the earliest evidence of grape winemaking. The pottery jars were discovered in two Neolithic villages, called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, about 50km (30 miles) south of Tbilisi, researchers said. Telltale chemical signs of wine were discovered in eight jars, the oldest one dating from about 5,980 BC.
Large jars called qvevri, similar to the ancient ones, are still used for winemaking in Georgia. The qvevri mythology is actually on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list.
In Georgia are grown 500 different grape sorts, from which are made the best-quality wines. The remarkable sorts of Georgian wine are Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Kindzmarauli, Titska-Tsolikauri, Khvanchkara, Tvishi, Usakhelauri, Ojaleshi, and others.
However, only 40 are used in commercial production. The main wine areas of the country are Kakheti, and its Telavi and Kvareli regions, Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, and Adjara. Though larger, modern wineries are growing in number, there are still thousands of small farmers using fairly traditional techniques. Kakheti is an essential visit for wine-fans, and there are plenty of tours and vineyards open for independent visitors. It can be a day trip from Tbilisi, or you can stay overnight. The areas of Sighnaghi and Telavi are easily accessible, and both are packed with cellar doors and restaurants.
The wine for the Georgians is not just a drink. It is a piece of Georgian culture, national identity, and heritage. Georgian people express their love for wine and grapes in different ways such as traditional Georgian ornaments, songs, poetry, and arts. People have been raising their glasses and toasting one another over tables filled with extraordinary food for just as long.
The national Georgian cuisine is one of the main attractions of the country. The local dishes here are so various delicious and appetizing that no one will be able to remain indifferent. What makes Georgian food so incredibly tasty and delicious is the flavors. You’ve got flavors from the Mediterranean, as well as Turkey and the Middle East. The most common ingredients are walnuts, pomegranate, kidney beans, cheese, honey, coriander, and garlic.
Georgian cuisine is characterized by the contrast between spicy and hot. The other feature of the national cuisine here is the extensive use of walnuts and greens both fresh and dried (cilantro, basil, tarragon, savory). Walnuts are added to dressings, sauces, soups, meat, and bakery products. Another distinctive feature is the abundance of various meat dishes – it is difficult to imagine a Georgian table without them.
Traditional Georgian Food
Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings). Khinkali is a popular dumpling with meat (lamb, beef, or pork). Beautifully twisted knobs of dough, khinkali are typically stuffed with meat and spices, then served boiled or steamed. The trick with khinkali is to eat them without making a mess or spilling the hot broth inside all over yourself.
Khachapuri is the most famous dish in Georgia. Khachapuri is a farinaceous meal with a large amount of cheese. This national food is found everywhere in Georgia and is cooked differently in each region. There are lots of varieties of khachapuri – imeruli, adjaruli with egg, megruli and other. Khachapuri is a cheese pastry similar to a large curd tart (closed and open) filled with cheeses and baked on cast-iron frying pans.
Mtsvadi – A skewer of meat, be it veal, lamb, or pork. While the choice of meat varies from region to region and also according to seasons, the grilling method is more or less the same throughout. Out-of-age grapevine is considered to be noblest among the choice of wood. Once grilled, meat cubes are removed from skewers and shaken in a pot of thinly sliced onions and pomegranate juice. Sizzling meat slightly caramelizes the onions, while pomegranate juice forms a mild, acidy sauce with the meat juices.
Satsivi is a cold dish from chicken or turkey. The name of the dish comes from the original satsivi sauce served with fried chicken. The sauce has more than one and a half dozen varieties. It is prepared from the poultry broth with the addition of various spices, seasonings, and walnuts.
Chaqapuli is light and liquid stew, redolent of springtime herbs, pungent with fruity flavors of white wine, and tkemali sauce. (Tkemali sauce is a universal condiment made with wild plums and aromatic herbs).
Kharcho is a traditional Georgian soup with beef, rice, cherry plum purée, and chopped walnuts. It’s usually topped with coriander like most other local dishes.
Chakhokhbili is pieces of chicken or other poultry stewed in tomato sauce. Prior to this, they are fried in a pan without fat. Then tomatoes are added and the dish is stewed in vegetable juice.
Chikhirtma is a thick soup from mutton or, more often, poultry with whipped eggs and flour. Chikhirtma is usually spiced with mint and saffron as well as coriander, parsley, and basil.
Khashlama is a soup made from tender veal with parsley and celery roots, spiced with garlic and parsley.
Khashi is beef tripe, leg and head bone broth strongly seasoned with garlic. Traditionally Shashi is eaten in the morning. This is a very rich, nutritious, and healthy dish popular among Georgians after an all-night supra.
Chanakhi is meat with vegetables stewed in clay pots in an oven. For chanakhi, only fat mutton is used along with eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and onions. Sometimes rice is added. Parsley, coriander, basil, and black and red pepper are used.
Churchkhela is the best-known sweet among of traditional Georgian cuisine. These Georgian national sweetmeats are made of nuts beaded on a thread and cooked in flour-thickened grape juice. The best-known recipes of Churchkhela in Georgia are Kakhetian and Imeretian.
Gozinaki is cooked from walnuts are flat candies in honey. Georgians prepare these sweets on the first day of the new year.
Another traditional Georgian dish is eggplant with walnut. Badrijani is served with traditional Georgian sauces and seasonings, also enhanced with nuts. There are lots of popular dishes in Georgian Cuisine: starters and snacks – lobio (beans) and eggplants, pkhali (mostly from spinach).
Georgian cuisine employs the use of spices in almost every dish. Particularly specific to Georgian cuisine is the use of kindzi, dzira, and tarragon. Depending on the season, parsley, fennel, ramson, mint, basil, savory, tarragon, fennel, parsley, coriander, basil, mint, khmeli-suneli, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, red pepper, and coriander are used in Georgian recipes.
The most common bread in Georgia is shotis puri and tonis puri. It is baked in a special traditional oven – tone. As bread Georgians also serve corn tortillas mchadi.