While there are many reasons to host a supra, its fundamental elements never change. Along with sharing the impressive amount of food and wine, people share their happiness and respect, as well as console and cheer up one another.
The Georgian supra is impressive in its variety: depending on the region and occasion, the sequence of dishes and order of some toasts may differ. As a table can be laid for good times and bad, the menu and the tone can be modified, but the main philosophy behind the event - communal sharing and sitting together for a meal - remains the same.
The rules of Georgian supra are set in stone, with several obligatory toasts to be said, which brings us to the role of toastmaster, tamada, and its paramount importance. The toast in the local tradition is a part of the genre of praise and plea, almost a prayer. It is incumbent upon the tamada of a Georgian supra to propose the toasts appropriate for the occasion of the gathering. Phrasing the obligatory ritual messages in a beautiful, poetic way is crucial. That's why usually the most eloquent and respected attendee of the meal is appointed as the tamada.
A Georgian supra is often compared to a Lucullan feast since you can see everything that Georgian cuisine offers. Specifically, there is a variety of cheese and bread, pickles (fermented vegetables, herbs and fruits), a variety of edible greens, roasts or boiled meat, such as khashlama, fish and mushrooms, mtsvadi - juicy meat chunks grilled over grapevine twigs, filled sausages kupati, and most commonly, steaming hot khachapuri. There can also be chicken in blackberry sauce, walnut dip bazhe, lamb and tarragon stew chakapuli, and famous local dumplings, khinkali.
You will also find numerous desserts at a Georgian supra: buffalo matsoni with nuts and honey, condensed grape juice pudding tatara, grape juice candy churchkhela, dried fruits, various types of cookies, and sweet drinks.
The centerpiece of a Georgian supra is wine, which is no surprise for our country, the cradle of winemaking. Out of around 1500 grape varieties used for winemaking globally, more than 500 are endemic to Georgia. That means that the selection of wine at a Georgian supra is correspondingly varied, including Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Kisi, Saperavi, Tsitska, Tsolikouri, Chinuri, Chkhaveri and more.
A supra is often adorned with the telling of happy stories, poems, and songs accompanied by a guitar or sung a cappella, all of which are orchestrated by the tamada.
At the end of the supra, the kvelatsminda (all saints) toast is drunk; then the guests toast to the tamada, and so ends this ritual of communal sharing.
As a guest, one might want to contribute to the variety of toasts. Often the tamada would offer a guest an alaverdi - an opportunity to expand the previous toast and express one's thoughts and feelings about the given topic. The main rule is not to be shy and let sincerity and creativity take over. Usually, the variations on the Georgian toasts said by the international guests are welcome!