8,000 Years of Winemaking, Wine Tasting in Kakheti, Georgia

Kakheti is the wine region in Georgia. Guess what I did?  YES! Wine tasting in Kakheti! 😊 That was what brought me to Georgia! Well, one of the things that brought me there. 😛

Georgia has a long history of winemaking. According to some evidence discovered by scientists, Georgians have been making wine for 8,000 years. The Georgians are very proud of it and they should.  If you talk to any Georgians who can speak English (most Georgians speak Georgian and Russian only), they will tell you, ‘we have a longer history of winemaking than any other European countries.’

They use clay bottles to keep their wine.  If you go there, you will first be attracted by their clay wine bottles.  They are all in different shapes and some of them are even in the form of a man or a woman (guess where they pour the wine out in this case? Hey, hey, hey, what have you got in mind? It’s from the neck. What were you thinking? :P)

It’s not just the design of the bottle that will appeal to you, it’s the taste as well. Try to test it yourself if you get to taste Georgian wine.  Pour half of the bottle of wine in a wine glass and then the other half in a Georgian clay container. Even though the wine comes from the same bottle, they taste very different. The clay will bring out the rich texture and the taste of grapes that the glasses can’t bring out. Trust me. It’s like magic but it’s not magic. I have tried it.

Compared to French wine or other European wine, Georgian wine tastes less complex. It’s pretty straight forward like the people there. 😀  Well, it does have some complexity but you need to know which grapes to choose. 😊 It’s so easy to drink that you will just keep drinking and drinking, until you get drunk. The local people always say, ‘unlike other European wine, your stomach won’t be upset if you drink a lot of Georgian wine. Instead, it’ll feel very happy, because it is made differently from the European wine.’  Hm… let me think…, it seems it has been quite true, so far.

With my prior experience with Georgian wine, I knew what kind of wine I was going to buy at the vineyards. 😊

It’s easy to get to Kakheti from Tbilisi but I didn’t know how to contact the vineyards so I joined a local tour in Tbilisi which was a wise decision because all the people who joined this tour had one thing in common – we were all wine lovers!  😊

You can imagine the chemistry in our group. 😊

So, let’s start our wine tasting journey now! 😊

Small vineyard in Kakheti, Georgia
First vineyard we visited. It looks quite small.
Happy tourists tasting wine in Kakheti, Georgia
Look how happy these tourists are. 😛
This vineyard has a museum.
This vineyard also has a museum.

We then headed to the second vineyard.

At Kvareli town, we visited another vineyard which is bigger than the first one.

This vineyard started making wine in the 16th century and they used to make wine for the royal family. I felt so royal now! 😀 

Wine!
Do they still use this room for making wine?
Barrels of wine!!!!

We had lunch at the restaurant at the vineyard after touring their wine making facilities and tasting their wine. The dry white wine that we ordered for lunch cost only GEL1 per glass (around USD0.3!). Crazy!!! Crazily cheap! 

It’s also very cheap to buy wine directly from the vineyard. Unfortunately, I only brought a backpack with me. I had limited space. In the end, I could only buy two bottles of red wine.

I was a wee bit tipsy after drinking all the wine… but I paid the right amount for the two bottles. 😀 The wine sat inside a beautifully decorated clay wine bottle.  That’s another reason why I was in Georgia. Wine, clay wine bottles, food, ancient architecture…

It was a tour after all.  So, after the wine tasting trip, we headed to Sighnaghi, city of love in Eastern Georgia and we visited the monastery at Bodbiakhevi. 

Sighnaghi. So beautiful!

The tour guide said, ‘Georgia sits between Europe and Asia. For years, we were thought of as a European country but in fact, we are closer to Asia than to Europe.’ And then he said something like Georgia was an Asian country. It’s true, they are geographically closer to Asia than to Europe but their architecture is definitely European. I wonder what Georgians thought about this, say, in the 90’s.

After this wonderful trip, we went back to Tbilisi. I carefully put my two bottles in my room in the hostel.  The young couple at the hostel advised me where I could buy takeaway dinner at that hour because it was quite late already so I followed their instructions and went out.

As I was walking in the street looking for a restaurant, someone called my name.

Seriously?! Someone knew me in Georgia?! How could that be?

It turned out it was a guy from the Tbilisi walking tour.

After we chatted for a little while, he invited me to his home to have dinner.  He said his grandmother would be happy to cook for us. I felt bad about it. It would cause her too much trouble. He said it was ok. Well, after you have heard stories about how hospitable Georgians are, you know what happened next.  But I insisted on staying there for a short while only because the hostel owners were expecting me to go back within less than an hour.

He lived in the centre of Tbilisi – very close to my hostel but in a rundown building.  There was not enough light in the building. I was walking up the stairs in near darkness. He kept saying that his grandmother should move out and that the place wasn’t for people to live in. I absolutely agreed, but I didn’t say it.

His grandmother was very hospitable and kind. When she saw me, she offered me some bread, cheese and some vegetables. But she wasn’t eating with us. She had already had her dinner. That made me feel even worse. She was sitting on the couch watching TV as we ate. He kept telling me it was ok. He also told me the food we were having was typical Georgian food they ate at home. I didn’t eat much.

Apparently, he also admitted that, his relationship with his uncle and family wasn’t really that good. As he was talking, my eyes travelled around the flat. It was so old and rundown that I could see huge mushrooms as big as two iPhone 11 put together growing in the cracks of the walls in the ceiling. At first, I didn’t know what they were but as I looked at them for a longer while, I could recognise them. When I think of it now, I have goosebumps.  I felt bad about looking at them so my eyes drifted from one place to another and then focused back on him while trying to utter a few compliments – how big and spacious the flat was, etc. It was indeed a huge flat. I wasn’t lying.

As he showed me the rest of the flat after dinner, his uncle came out of his room and greeted us. He was friendly to me but not to his nephew.

After I left his home, he continued to talk to me but I insisted on going back to the hostel as the hostel owners knew that I was only going to go out for a short while to buy dinner.  He even insisted on taking me back to the hostel but I insisted not to. I was glad I insisted. The young couple when they heard what had happened, they didn’t feel comfortable about their guests taking a stranger back to their hostel.

You may think that this guy is very talkative. Well, yes, it’s true. Georgians in general love to talk especially when they toast. 😀 You will see. 🙂

Stay tuned. 😊

11 June, 2017

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