The republic of wine: Georgia’s epic love affair with the fermented grape Comments Off on The republic of wine: Georgia’s epic love affair with the fermented grape 2119

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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Getting your kids to read this summer Comments Off on Getting your kids to read this summer 64538

Summer means different things for different people. For twenty-year-old’s, it’s the time to work and party; for parents, it’s the time to hold neighborhood events and start saving up, and for kids, it’s the time to kick back and finally have some fun. School’s out! 😃 It’s that one time of the year when they can go to the beach and hang out with all their friends without worrying about some project or homework. For them, the entire summer is all about having fun, and as a parent, it’s your sacred duty to balance fun with continuing education. You might even be able to replace “fun” with something more rewarding – like reading!

Knowledge attained outside the classroom tends to stick around longer

You don’t want to be the “uncool” parent that forces your kid to do something school-related during the summer, but you don’t really have that much of choice, here’s why. The lessons that really stick with you long after you finish school are the ones that you learned when you didn’t really have to.

The knowledge that is acquired without some form of ultimatum or consequence always leaves a lasting impression. It also introduces you to a new side of knowledge that is not purely scholarly.

Reading is right for you regardless of what it is that you decide to read – obviously you will have to control your kids’ intake in your spare time. Reading strengthens the mind, and continual learning increases the speed at which you assimilate and process information. Just imagine the kind of impact a fantastic reading speed could have on your kid educational future. You could be adequately preparing them for a future in academia.

Exposure

The reward of “ruining” their obsessively fun summer will be some exposure to other subjects and topics that are unfamiliar to them. Recreational reading could be very instrumental in building up their overall personality. Plus, proper exposure ensures that they have enough information to make smarter and more informed decisions at a tender age.

It can teach them to research and ask questions

Summer reading could form the basis of a voracious reading habit that could beautifully complement their curiosity. It’s not every kid that thinks about something strange that eventually go on to investigate, summer reading could introduce them to the concept of research.

How to get your kids to read during the summer

It’s easy to talk about getting your kids to read during the summer, getting them to do it another issue entirely.

Kids can be especially stubborn or pigheaded when you are trying to force them to do what they simply have no interest in. The only way to have them do what you want the right way is to either introduce a reward system or trick them that it’s all their idea. Local library’s often offer summer reading lists per age group.

Reward system

Are you having a hard time getting your kid to do anything you want? Wait patiently, there is always something they’ll want, and you can use that to get what you want – in this case, it’s a healthy reading habit.

When they come to you with a ridiculous demand, you can propose a fair trade that will engage their mind and keep it focused on a book that you’ll recommend. You can even choose to deliver the reward after the completion of several books, that way, you are getting the most out of your deal.

You can also choose to limit or restrict play time, and the completion of a certain number of pages could be the requirement they must fulfill before they are allowed to play again.

Making them think it’s their idea

In my experience, people are always more motivated to complete a project that they believe to be totally theirs. When it’s your plan, you just tend to pay more attention to it, it’s like you want to prove something to yourself and others around you. Adults think this way, and so do kids. They can be pretty devoted to completing a book they just accidentally stumbled upon or saw you flip through.

Sometimes you don’t have to be so obvious or aggressive, you could give a rousing speech about reading and hand them a book that you know that they’ll enjoy and leave the rest to them.

The summertime doesn’t have to all about vacations and parties, it could also be an opportunity for your kid to develop a reasonably analytical mind.

Is your partner complaining about your snoring? You might have a problem. Comments Off on Is your partner complaining about your snoring? You might have a problem. 54983

Your partner might not have the heart to tell you, but your snoring sucks. They might tell you that it’s slight and cute and they don’t mind, but they are just trying not to hurt your feelings. I, on the other hand, have no such obligation. In truth, snoring isn’t as annoying and unbearable as I make it out to be. It might actually be “cute” but something has to be done about it nonetheless. It might be a sign of something more serious than just a mildly distasteful sleeping habit. So, is your snoring far more serious than you think, or am I just being hard?

Having sleep apnea isn’t necessarily a bad thing (ok technically it is). But it doesn’t always have to be life or death. You could see a doctor and try to get things sorted out before it’s too late. After all, sleep apnea deprives your entire body and brain of some much-needed oxygen.

An individual is said to have sleep apnea when they don’t get enough oxygen during sleep because their brain isn’t sending signals fast enough to the rest of the body. It doesn’t know to breathe in during sleep; or it could be caused when the muscles of the throat are relaxed which causes the pathways to narrow, so the body doesn’t get enough oxygen during sleep. There are three major types of apnea and although their causes vary, they pretty much cause similar problems down the road.

I’m not typing this long list of diseases to scare you, but they are some of the possible conditions that might result from prolonged sleep apnea.

Some of the diseases that can arise from sleep apnea are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Liver problems
  • Sleep-deprived partners

Although the diseases on this list are scary and often life-threatening, they rarely happen in most cases. Like with most life-threatening diseases out there, early identification is what it’s all about.

Here are a few ways of identifying sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring
  • Short moments when you stop breathing completely
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Falling asleep during the day
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Short attention span while awake

Note: Sleep apnea isn’t quite identical across the spectrum. Some people don’t even snore loudly at night. I know that this might sound confusing but things aren’t always as simple as they seem. You have to watch out for some of the other symptoms if you think that you might have sleep apnea. Your best bet is to just get yourself checked out whenever you can.

Now then, how exactly can we help ourselves when we find out that we have sleep apnea?

Although there are some home remedies and radical dietary alternatives, the safest solution is going with modern medicine. In-person sleep studies, surgeries, and even medications are all options that might be available to you. With that said, here are a few things easy ways to help with your sleep apnea.

Keep your weight under check

Although this symptom is particularly restricted to obstructive sleep apnea, it’s a great idea to adopt it nonetheless. It’ll look after you long after the sleep apnea has passed and it does come with some added physical advantages. It is well known that obesity has a lot of unsightly consequences, but what most people don’t know is that it can also be the cause of sleep apnea. Obesity blocks some of the essential pathways such as the nasal passages and this often results in sleep apnea.

Change your sleep position

It has been noted that certain sleeping postures actually help with your sleep apnea. Something as simple as sleeping on your side can greatly impact the overall frequency of your snores and gasps. Sleeping on your side makes it less likely for your tongue to obstruct your airway. Although not everyone is immediately relieved by this simple home remedy, it’s still quite memorable all things considered.

Quit smoking

In case you might not know, smoking can kill you eventually. They don’t only break down the cells in your lungs, they also increase inflammation and fluid retention in the throat which can cause sleep apnea.

Sleep regularly

I understand that gasping for breath in the middle of the night can be problematic but adequate sleep goes a long way in improving the quality of your sleep and your life span altogether.

Your partner’s sporadic sleep pattern might not be a result of his or her strange sleeping habits. It might be something more serious than that and you should always watch him or her when they are asleep. That is when you will really know if they are at risk.

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