Wine is not just a drink in Georgia. In the distant past it was considered to have medicinal uses. Wine vinegar and hot red wine mixed with honey were considered to be a cure for anything, including anemia.
Ghvinis Tbili (literally “wine’s heat”) is a recipe from Guria, a drink made from red wine and spicy seasonings, which was used to treat stomach issues caused by eating fatty food.
Wine and grape juice was often used in cuisine, both in meat and vegetable dishes and in sweets. The juices are a key ingredient in Georgian recipes, such as mtkhles shechamandi, ghvinis khavitsi, boghlitso, ghvinis satsebeli, chakapuli, churchkhela, pelamushi, tatara, majigaro, janjukha, badagi, chamichi, sweet pastry, ghvinitbili, and grape jam.
A dish called Boghlitso, is chunks of bread dipped into red wine and eaten, mainly, by monks and religious figures.
Majigaro is a fasting dish made from the dregs of wine. Also known as sediment, it is pressed through a sieve, added to flour, seasoned with salt and garlic, and boiled over a fire.
Ghvinitbili is a snack mixture of crushed walnuts, garlic, caraway, and salt added to boiled wine, commonly found in the region of Racha.
In spring, when nature is bustling with life, and fresh herbs are springing up, the best dish made is either veal or lamb chakapuli. The final touch of white wine is added to the pot full of all sorts of herbs, fresh plums, and tarragon. This addition sets every flavor of this ritualistic Easter dish and is beloved by all Georgians.
Cooking pork in wine is a tradition in eastern Georgia. Salt, pepper, and bay leaves are added to fair-sized pieces, then white or red wine is poured over it, and it is left to sit for two to three hours. Meat prepared with this sort of wine immersion turns out soft and delicate.
Just like the close relationship of wine with lamb and pork in eastern Georgia, in western Georgia (in the Caucasus), it is the same with duck. Duck kharcho is also called black kharcho due to its color, and the addition of red wine makes that color even sharper. However, the dish has an elegantly fresh flavor.
Recently, Georgian producers have begun to age Georgian cheese in wine, specifically in Saperavi. This is a completely new tradition within Georgian cuisine that has already been widely accepted.
Wine is an indispensable member of the Georgian culinary family in its various forms. Without wine vinegar, every walnut dish and herb dish would lose the aroma that makes them stand out from other countries’ cuisine. The entire taste and quality of kindzmari sauce are entirely dependent on the wine vinegar, without it, the dish would be mediocre at best. Kindzmari is mainly used for fish dishes.
Salmon in wine sauce is quite worthwhile. The spiced wine, which only has coriander, pepper, and salt, pairs extremely well with the salmon.
Ghvinis Khavitsi is a dessert in Guria that is made with natural red wine and honey. It is most often brought to women who have just recently given birth, although many people know that our grandmothers used to make it when someone had a cold. They would pour one liter of natural red wine into two liters of water and boil it until it had been reduced by two fingers’ worth.
While boiling, after all the alcohol burns off, they would add three tablespoons of sugar and half a kilo of honey and knead five cups of sifted bread flour into it, then boil it over a low flame. This soothing food is similar to porridge, which, it seems, fights off viruses.
Georgian grandmothers also made a drink similar to the well-known mulled wine. Red wine would boil and reduce to half, sweetened with sugar, then orange and lemon would be added. This amazing mixture would be taken for anemia and to strengthen the immune system, although small cups were also given as a dessert.
The trademarks of Georgian cuisine, churchkhela, and pelamushi are also grape products. Churchkhela has been considered a strategic Georgian product for centuries, having been carried by soldiers on campaigns. Pelamushi and tatara are a kind of porridge made from boiled wine juice, to which nuts can be added.