Biblical time begins 5604 years before the birth of Christ, when God expelled Adam and Eve from paradise. If we add this year to our current date, Adam and Eve existed 7626 years ago, or hundreds of years after Georgians had started using qvevris to make wine.
It’s also interesting that the first lover of wine among the Bible characters was Noah – yes, the same Noah who built the ark and saved humanity.
There is a Georgian legend that says when the ark washed up on the shores of Mt. Ararat, Noah and his companions headed for the slopes of the high mountain. This mountain was in the Caucasus region, and it was here where Noah first tried wine. Many Georgians believe this area was Marneuli, where the oldest traces of wine in the world were discovered, dating back those very 8000 years.
Legends are great, but science is better. The discovery from Gadachrili Gora in Marneuli Municipality was studied by Georgian scientists and specialists from seven different countries, led by Patrick McGovern, biochemist, wine researcher, and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. After three years of research, Georgia was finally recognized the official birthplace of wine.
What about qvevris and traditional Georgian wine? With thousands of years to perfect this technique, let’s just say that the Georgians do wine well. This ancient combination of grape and clay is truly some kind of magic.
Fermenting wine in a qvevri is no easy task. So, how did people from 8000 years ago learn this complex technique? It must have been a long way of learning by doing!
Wine is the heart of the Georgian culture, and its influence can be seen everywhere. A significant portion of Georgian polyphonic singing is devoted to vine and wine. There are also ritual folk performances that were performed during the tending of a vineyard, the pressing of the grapes into wine, the opening of a qvevri, and more. Georgians even greet the birth of a new child and the birth of new wine into the family with the same song.
Even today, farmers still sing these songs in their vineyards and wine cellars, while professional folklore ensembles bring these cultural masterpieces to the whole world through their incredible performances.
While traveling in Georgia you will often come across road signs that say “Wine Route”.
Following these signs will lead you to a large industrial winemaker or a small family wine cellar, where they create premium wine in small quantities. These small wine cellars will also offer local food that is a perfect match for the wine.
You will find these “Wine Routes” in nearly every region of Georgia. The list below offers just a few examples of what to try in each region.
Adjara and Guria: Chkhaveri - pink or light red wine
Samegrelo: berry-forward red Ojaleshi
Imereti: lively Tsitska-Tsolikouri and Krakhuna
Racha-Lechkhumi: sweet and fruity Usakhelouri, Khvanchkara and Tvishi
Shida Kartli: elegant Chinebuli and Goruli Mtsvane
Kvemo Kartli: golden Rkatsiteli and strawberry-like Asuretuli Shala
Samtskhe Javakheti: unbreakable Meskhuri Mtsvane, Meskhuri Tsiteli, Chitiskvertskha
Apkhazeti: exotic Avasirkhva
Kakheti: aromatic Kakhuri Mtsvane and Kisi, full-bodied Rkatsiteli and Saperavi
The only place you won’t find a wine route in Georgia is high in the mountains where grapes are unable to grow. So unless you’re hiking or skiing high at high altitudes, be sure to make time for a tasting wherever you go on your trip!
What is quality wine without delicious Georgian food to enjoy it with?
Georgian cuisine and wine have paired perfectly together for all these millennia, and just like Georgian wine is varied according to the place it originates from, Georgian food is just as diverse. Every region of Georgia has its own unique food products and cuisine.
As much as Georgian food is unique, it is also a reflection of the foods of other cultures, a result of the country’s permanent contact with other cultures. That is what makes Georgian food so rich and varied.
Travel to this small, peaceful, and diverse wine paradise and keep your eyes open – you don’t want to miss the Wine Route!