Georgia (Wines) on My Mind
Who are the most popular oenophiles in Washington? The Republic of Georgia's Ambassador David Bakradze and pre-eminent Public Affairs Counselor Sofia Gegechkori are at the top of the list. With their sunny warmth and winning Embassy wine tastings, they have created a fanatical fan club for wines from the country of its birth.
The Embassy recently invited wine lovers to taste the nation's bounty and beautiful culture, spiced up with a delicious dance troup that kept attendees thirsty for more. "Wine is so much part of our DNA, our identity, that no invasion in our history, no invaders have managed to force us to stop it or forget it," said Ambassador Bakradze, welcoming the 200 guests. He pointed out that "8000 vintages speak for our 8000 years of wine making -- and therefore wine drinking -- and I think this is a good reason to gather together and celebrate this day."
There is a lot to celebrate from this country of rolling green valleys and surging rivers. Native grapes including Rkatsiteli, Saperavi, Chinuri, Aladastury and over 400 more are aged by standard international methods as well as in ancient terracotta pots called "kvevri."
From 6000 BC, inhabitants of the current Georgia were cultivating grapes and burying these clay vessels in which they stored the wine and kept it cool. Some wines were aged 50 years!
To put a perspective on this, paper is said to have made its debut in 100 BC in China -- 6000 years after the Georgians had created what some call the drink of Gods. The wheel only got here in 3500 BC -- 2500 years later!
Clearly the Georgians were onto something, and today, they continue to enjoy -- and more importantly, share -- this divine potion.
More about the history of Georgian wines is here.