Eating & Drinking
Georgia is considered to be the birthplace of wine. The Georgians are purported to be the first people in the world to have produced wine. Scientists have discovered remains of red wine which was made and stored in ceramic storage jars already in the Stone Age or about 8 000 years ago. These people lived in Georgia. There is evidence that they added anti-bacterial preservatives to the grape juice so that the wine could be kept for a longer period of time after the fermentation process.
Actually, Georgia is the country with the highest number of species of grapes in the world – a total of 500.
Wine has always been an integral part of the Georgian way of life. It is said that at the Ikalto Academy in Kakheti in the eastern part of Georgia, where Rustaveli, the Georgian national poet went to school, in the Middle Ages it was common for each student to keep a jar of wine under his desk. When concentration went down, the wine came up, and a glass of wine was drunk to clear up the senses and generate more inspiration. Today it is claimed that some of the best Georgian red wines - for example Kindzmarauli (ქინძმარაული) and Kvanchkara (ხვანჭკარა) - are among the few wines in the world you can drink a lot of without any negative effects the following day.
The minerals that are washed down from the snow-covered mountains are what give the Georgian soil something extra which in turn give Georgian vegetables, herbs, fruit, cheese and meat a marvellous flavour. In fact, they taste natural, like for example, matsoni (მაწონი) – the delicious Georgian yoghurt. People claim that both kefir and yoghurt originate from the Caucasus region. In many parts of the world it is believed that skewered meat or shashlik comes from the Caucasus. In Georgian, skewered meat is called „mtsvadi” (მწვადი) and you will be hard pressed to find better skewered meat than what is served at restaurants and at home in Georgia. Another very Georgian dish is khinkali (ხინკალი) – this is meat or anything else filled and baked in a dough pouch. A diverse range of bread and good cheese can be found everywhere. Khachapuri (ხაჭაპური) is a combination of bread and cheese, that is, cheese baked in bread.
People that fancy fruit and a bit of sweets, rarely forget the Georgian churchkhela (ჩურჩხელა) which can be translated as nut sausage. Walnuts or hazelnuts are sewn onto a string, dipped in thick grape juice and then dried in the shape of a sausage.
The Georgians have a long tradition of making toasts and how to behave at the table during a large meal or feast – „supra” (სუფრა). The central figure is the „tamada”(თამადა). Tamada is a toastmaster, the head of the house or usually an eloquent, wise and somewhat witty person who manages the toasts and make sure that everybody feels well when people gather for festive occasisions. The food and the wine should be enjoyed slowly and there are no short toasts. There are various rules and traditions for whom the first toasts should be made, but it is common to dedicate the first toasts to the forefathers and parents, children, plants, animals, friendship, the free nation and God.