The Republic of Wine: Georgia’s Epic Love Affair With the Fermented Grape 0 1204

Approximately 8,000 years ago somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Georgia (the country, not the state), some guys decided to try storing their wild grape juice for the winter by putting in a clay vessel and burying it in a pit.

When they dug it out in the spring, they had a bit of a surprise.

“Hey… Umm…  You know this grape juice we buried underground all winter?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, it’s not really grape juice anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s different. Hard to explain. Try it… pretty good actually.”

“Hot damn, that is good. Pour me another glass.”

(Legend has it a couple of hours later they were singing songs off-key, falling over and mumbling, “I never say it… but you know you’re my best friend, right?” However, history is a little fuzzy on those details.)

We may not know the exact words that were uttered when it was discovered, but the point is that ever since a grape juice storage fail turned into a wine-making win, viticulture has been a very, very big deal in Georgia.

In the Kvemo Kartli region (just south of Tbilisi) archeologists discovered several grape seeds in a ruined ancient house that date back to the 6th millennium BC.

This, as well as other archaeological findings, is the evidence that Georgia has the oldest winemaking tradition in the world.  The method of making wine in the traditional clay vessels was added to UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013, along with other age-old traditions such as the Carnival of Oruro in Bolivia and Chinese shadow puppetry.

In the National Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi, you can see one of the ancient ceramic vessels that were used for wine production – known as a qvevri. The crushed grapes are placed in these enormous egg-shaped containers along with the skin and seeds.

The vessels can be up to three meters deep and can hold up to 1,300 bottles of wine each. The most well-known red is called Saperavi, which is bold and fruity with notes of pine and wild berries. Seriously, it’s damn good.

The History of Wine in Georgia

An eight thousand year winemaking tradition is pretty impressive.

To put this into perspective – we are talking about the Neolithic Age (back when people were eating the Paleo Diet before it was trendy). This happened before Egyptian mummies and before the Minoan culture began on Crete. Even writing was only invented 5,200 years ago (maybe once we invented wine we were too drunk to bother writing stuff down?).

Georgian wine is about 5,000 years older than Stonehenge. Mammoths were still around (and would be around for another 5,500 years) when the early Georgians were getting sloshed on those first bold, juicy reds.

In Georgian pagan mythology, wine had a powerful mystical meaning. In the folk tales,  Aguna is the patron saint of viticulture and ritual sacrifices were performed (in fact, they still are). As Christianity spread, wine became considered the “Blood of the Savior” and so wine and vineyards became even more important. Georgians thought of wine as the holiest drink and they would often sacrifice it to the saints.

These days, wine is just as popular as ever and it’s big business. As you stroll down the streets of the Old City in Tbilisi almost every other building is a wine shop or a tourist agency advertising tasting tours to the vineyards in the nearby countryside. Even the popular local candy churchkhela is made with grape must, a byproduct of the wine industry. A sign I saw the other day outside a local restaurant said, “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine and that’s almost the same thing.”

Where to Sip Georgian Wine During Your Visit

Georgians are legendary for their hospitality. In Georgian culture a visitor is considered a “Gift from God” and large feasts called “Supras” where everyone is welcome are central pillars of the culture. These sumptuous banquets are presided over by a toastmaster called the Tamada, who always ensures that the wine keeps flowing. Many Georgian families will make their own homemade wine and serve it to guests. So, while you are in Georgia do your best to get invited to a Supra.

If you don’t have a chance to attend a Supra, here are some other great places where you can taste Georgian wine during your visit.

Ghvino Underground

N15 Galaktion Tabidze Str., Tbilisi

The first organic wine bar in Georgia, this cozy spot has a superb selection of local and imported natural wines – served up with artisan bread, cheese and even seasonal mushrooms. You can also get a little taste of chacha, the local grape vodka (beware, it packs a punch!).

8,000 Vintages

N26 Sulkhan-Tsintsadze Str., Tbilisi

The name of this newly opened wine tasting place symbolizes the epic winemaking history of Georgia. It claims to offer the largest variety of local wines in Tbilisi, so you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Piala

N114 Aghmashenebeli Avenue, Tbilisi

If you are on a shoestring budget but still want to feel like a sophisticated wine connoisseur, head to this old Georgian style cellar. They have local wine on tap. Yes, you read that right. Wine on tap. Life is good.

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Kelly Dunning is a Canadian freelance travel writer. She lives a nomadic lifestyle with no fixed address – working from the road since 2011 with her partner Lee, a web-designer from England. They have traveled to over 50 countries and they offer travel tips, stories, and inspiration on Global-Goose.com

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How to Pack Your Bathroom into Your Suitcase: Tips for Lightweight Traveling 0 6333

Suitcase Packing

Traveling with toiletries in carry-on luggage can be a bit tricky. Between the size restrictions on liquids and trying to stuff all of your liquids into a small zip-lock bag, things get frustrating. Below you can find some tips for packing your bathroom into a suitcase in order to help you travel lighter and smarter.

TSA 3-1-1 Rule
TSA 3-1-1 Rule

Tip 1: Don’t pack it if you are not certain that you need it.

Rethink everything you put in your suitcase, especially when it comes to toiletries. Many people try to put every product they have in their bathroom into their suitcase just in case they might need it. Remember, it’s easy to purchase toiletries just about anywhere you travel. A forgotten item is not the end of the world, simply head down to the local supermarket, drugstore, or pharmacy where ever you’re traveling and purchase that forgotten item.

Tip 2: Small Traveling Toiletry Bags with a clear counterpart

Having all your bathroom items in one spot makes traveling much easier. Find a small, flat, toiletry bag with multiple compartments that can fit your makeup, shower items, creams, brushes, and razors. But most importantly, search for a bag that has a clear compartment for your liquids, so that you can easily remove it from your carry-on when going through airport security.

Tip 3: Forget Travel-Sized Toothpaste

Stop buying travel-sized toothpaste, it is completely unnecessary. Standard-sized toothpaste tubes meet the liquids size requirements. Grab the toothpaste you use every day from your bathroom and bring it along with you, it is already small and lightweight so it won’t take up much space or weight you down, and it will save you a bit of money.

Tip 4: Travel-Sized Face Moisturizer

One of the hardest things to find is usually travel-sized face lotion. Finding a face lotion that fits the appropriate carry-on requirements is nearly impossible in the supermarkets and drug stores. After much searching, we found that Sanseti (https://www.sanseti.com/product/revitalizing-marine-moisturizer/) sells a fantastic face moisturizer that comes in 2-ounce jars, perfect for travel.  Don’t be afraid of the quantity, a little bit of this goes a long way.

Sanseti Skin Care: Revitalizing Marine Moisturizer
Sanseti Skin Care: Revitalizing Marine Moisturizer

Tip 5: When packing makeup: Less is more

Just take the essentials. Don’t take the whole makeup bag which surely has products in there that you never or rarely use. Select the products you use every day and put them into a small makeup bag for travel, ditching the items that you won’t need.

Visit These Five Islands Before Summer Is Over 0 295

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Isla de Providencia, Colombia

Isla de Providencia, Colombia
Isla de Providencia, Colombia

 

 

 

 

 

Colombia is a country of near-ending discovery, with both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, there are a vast amount of undiscovered islands sprawled along the seas. This includes two breathtaking islands which are actually closer to the coast of Nicaragua, Providencia and San Andrés, about 775 km (482 mi) northwest of mainland Colombia. Providencia has no direct flights from mainland Colombia or Nicaragua and it takes either an expensive, albeit quick, flight or a pretty rough 4-hour ferry ride from San Andrés. Its proximity and lack of direct flight connections have managed to keep the island from becoming over-run with tourism. Those adventurous travelers who overcome the obstacles to make it to Providencia will be rewarded with stunning beaches surrounded by palm trees, looking out at turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. But the real charm of the island is its distinct culture which is influenced by many different cultures, as the island was a popular stop for pirates and colonists alike back in the day. The locals speak a type of Creole which is influenced by Spanish, African, and English languages. Dont neglect to interact with the locals to eat some of the best seafood around and learn about the island’s unique history.

Cyprus

Cyprus
Cyprus

 

 

 

 

While the island of Cyprus might have a controversial history, there is nothing controversial in saying that the island is stunning. Cyprus offers mountainous terrain and around 650 km (400 mi) of coastline. With so much coastline, the island has the perfect beach to suit anyones needs. Whether youre looking for a party beach or the perfect secluded beach to relax and go topless, you can find it in Cyprus. There are the golden-sand beaches of Ayia Napa along the south-eastern coast of Cyprus and the steep, rocky coastline of Akamas Bay which boast beautiful wildlife, flora, and fauna to discover. With so much diversity of landscape and culture, it is the perfect place to rent and car and take a road trip around the coastline to uncover the beauty of the island.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Waiheke Island, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

As if the North and South islands of New Zealand werent gorgeous enough, with just a quick 35-minute ferry ride from Aukland you can be in paradise on Waiheke Island. Waiheke Island is 19 km (12 mi) of breathtaking landscape, full of vineyards, coves, and killer views of Aukland. The island is plentiful with coves that have an astonishing contrast between the bright blue sea, white sand beaches, and lush green shrubbery that is reminiscent of an almost tropical Santorini. The island is becoming known as a wine destination with plenty of wineries to visit, making it easy to experience the island with a glass of wine in hand. The wines are not only of impressive quality, but the vineyards are situated right next to the sea offering incredible views. With ease was you can go winery hopping to places like Man O’War Vineyards where the vineyards seem to disappear into the blue sea. Don’t hesitate to take your next trip to Waiheke Island to experience relaxation and beauty at its finest.

Ponza, Italy

Ponza, Italy
Ponza, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

Ponza is a charming little island located off the western coast of Italy between Rome and Naples, popular amongst Romans for summer vacation. Ponza feels as though it is stuck in time, where life is slower and for locals, living the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle is a given. Colorful houses line the hilly island appearing to be stacked one on top of the other, resembling the houses of Cinque Terre, with cliffside views and pebble beaches. The lack of sandy beaches makes it is best to discover the island by boat, which is easy and affordable to rent at the harbor. Some of the most breathtaking beaches of the island feel as though they have been carved into the steep cliffs that make the perfect hidden getaway for a swim in the warm, turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The island isnt just popular with Romans today, there is proof that Romans have been enjoying the island since Roman Empire, with old Roman pools, graves, and a tunnel that connects the harbor to Chiaia di Luna beach.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

 

 

 

 

Raja Ampat is an island getaway for those truly looking for seclusion. Dont expect to run into may other travelers or any people for that matter. This UNESCO world heritage site is made up of 1,500 islands that are anything but easy to get to, keeping them well preserved and much less visited than other Indonesian islands. And with a population of just around 5,000 people, it’s possible to visit islands with virtually no-one else on them. Raja Ampat is said to have the most biodiverse marine life in the world, making it a haven for divers and snorkelers alike. While you shouldnt expect luxury resorts or western comforts, you can expect to have some of the most breathtaking islands in the world all to yourself.

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