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Georgian Wine, Cuisine and “Supra”

Georgian cuisine is famous for its diversity and piquant nature. All regions of Georgia have their own characteristic and peerless dishes. Even the most famous Georgian food, Khachapuri (cheese backed in dough), is made in a peculiar way in each region. People in the Eastern Georgia prefer food made out of meat, while the Western Georgians mainly cook dishes served with walnuts and walnut sauces. If you are an admirer of particularly spicy cuisine, then you should definitely try out the Megrelian cuisine, where all dishes are served with Ghomi (porridge of maize flour), which somehow neutralizes (excessive) spices, while keeping peculiar taste of the dish. If you decide to travel in the mountains then you should naturally taste Khinkali, a dish prepared of minced pork or mutton wrapped in dough. It somewhat resembles Russian Pelmeni, but please do not ask the host for sour cream (which usually accompanies Pelmenis) not to insult her. As for delicatessen, Churchxela represents a traditional one (walnuts or hazel nuts on a thread, sipped in grape juice and dried)along with Tatara or Pelamushi (grape juice boiled with maize or wheat flour) and Gozinaki (walnuts cut into small pieces and mixed with honey), which in Georgia is traditionally prepared only on the New Year’s eve. Aside from the traditional specialities Georgians cook and enjoy European delicatessen with pleasure too.
Georgia is considered to be the cradle of wine – a fact, which is confirmed by numerous archaeological, ethnographic, and linguistic materials. Ancient sorts of domestic grapevine that have been discovered during archaeological excavations date back to the 6th-5th millennia BC. Many ceramic vessels used for wine-making and storing purposes have been unearthed too. According to experts, the progenitor of domestic grapevine Usurvazi grew in the wild on the territory of Georgia. The Latin term for wine, “Vino”, is said to derive from the Georgian word for wine “Ghvino”. The Caucasus has been the very place from which domestic grapevine spread to Europe, first to Italy and then to France, North Africa, and Spain. Since the ancient times Georgia was house to more than 500 sorts of domestic grapevines. Out of them 40 are still widely cultivated, though one can see up to 300 sorts of wine in special collections. Special love and popularity of grapevine is confirmed by the fact that the baptizer of Georgians, Saint Nino of Cappadocia, made her cross from a grapevine twig, which is still considered a symbol of Georgian Christianity and is kept in the Sioni Cathedral. According to accounts of travelers and historians Georgians possessed knowledge about unique methods of wine-making and conveyed them from generation to generation. Wine has constituted an export commodity from the ancient times and was sold in Media and Persia. Aiming at moral and political-economic defeat of Georgians every invader has tried to root out the grapevine. Viticulture and viniculture are still considered leading sectors of agriculture in Georgia where two methods of wine-making European and Kakhetian (Kakheti is a region in Georgia, considered the center of wine-making, thought the historical center is the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti) are practiced. The ancient traditions of viticulture and viniculture have created unique traditions of Georgian Supra (feast). From the times immemorial to the present day, every Georgian family makes wine, which is an inalienable attribute of every occurrence – a festival or a mourning ceremony.
Georgian Supra (feast)
Georgian feast represents an interesting and at the same time pleasant mixture of “dictatorship” and “anarchy.” The feast is headed by “tamada” (the toastmaster), who offers toasts and manages the feast. Being tamada is sort of a profession. In old times, there were famous tamadas in Georgia, who have been specifically invited to steer this or that feast, and it was a great honor for the requesting family if a famous tamada accepted the offer. The kind of feasts as wedding parties and funeral repasts have a strictly determined sequence of toasts. In case of funeral repasts, the number of toasts was also strictly determined. Georgians drink two-three liters of wine in average. A Georgian feast lasts for several hours, and aside from wine and diverse dishes, its alienable attributes are dances, songs, jokes, and socialization. Georgian feasts have certain rules that all attendants must adhere to. If you happen to attend a Georgian feast, remember that if you would like to make a toast then you should ask tamada for permission. If you want to elaborate on a toast made by Tamada, you’ll be gladly listened to, but try not to talk longer than tamada. As for songs and jokes, they are beyond rules.

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