For most countries, wine production is a source of income, but in Georgia wine is produced not only for economic reasons but also because there is an almost religious view of wine production that is seen as sacred.
Archaeologists consider Georgia to be the birthplace of wine. They discovered qvevris (clay pots buried in the ground to age wine) here that date back to 6000BC. Today, the country mixes modern techniques with its traditional roots to give us some of the most unique and charismatic wine in the world.
Georgia only produces a small amount of wine and they have limited exporting, so you’ll have to visit its restaurants and vineyards to fully appreciate what is offered. Georgian wines follow a similar structure to Europe where wines are named after the appellation (area or village) the grapes are grown in, and must adhere to strict growing and production protocols.
You may want to read this article first to learn about Georgia’s most important grapes.
This is a red wine made from only Saperavi grapes in Mukuzani, a sub-region of Kakheti. What makes it distinct from other Saperavi-based wines is that it’s aged in oak casks for at least 3 years. Because of this, it has a more complex flavor.
Info: dry, deep red hue
Notes: soft smoky scent of oak and berry
Try: Mukuzani Winery
This is probably the most common and most exported Georgian white wine, made from a combination of Rkatsiteli and 12 – 20% Mtsvane grapes. Other wines that use a similar combination of grapes are Gurjaani and Vazisubani.
Info: dry, lightly colored and subtle, moderate acidity
Notes: pronounced floral aroma; citrus and tropical flowers flavor
Rkatsiteli is the most common white grape varietal and is used in a lot of blends. But it’s worthwhile to seek out a qvervi-style Rkatsiteli like Tibaani because you will get a much richer and deeper flavor.
Info: dry, full body, strong tannins
Note: apricot, pear and quince along with spiced honey and dried nut aromas
Kindzmarauli (Semi-Sweet Red)
Kindzmarauli is a semi-sweet red wine that Georgians tend to drink slightly chilled. It is made with Saperavi grapes that have been left on the vine to ripen longer, leading to a denser, more complex flavor. This is the most famous appellation for producing semi-sweet Saperavi wine and it goes great with mature cheese!
Info: medium body, balanced, mild flavor, velvety tannins
Notes: fruit, raisin, and berry tones; aromas of cherry and black currant
Khvanchkara (Semi-Sweet Red)
Khvanchkara is a subtly sweet dessert wine made of Aleksandrouli and Mujuretuli grapes. It is a cult favorite that manages to win over even the most stubbornly anti-sweet wine drinkers. Apparently it was a favorite of Stalin as well! The Khvanchkara appellation is in the northern Racha-Lechkhumi area of Georgia.
Info: light body, well balanced sweetness and acidity, deep ruby color
Notes: aromas of clove; rich ripe plum, blueberry, cherry, and raspberry flavor
Try: Mildiani Khvanchkara
Tvishi (Semi-Sweet White)
Tvishi is produced in Lechkhumi in northwestern Georgia and is made from Tsolikouri grapes. It can be compared to a Riesling in its sugar content and acidity.
Info: light, semi-sweet, pale amber color
Notes: fresh and zesty; pear, apricot, and quince flavor; aromas of honeysuckle, quince and pineapple
Atenuri (Sparkling Wine)
Atenuri is a white sparkling wine made from Chinuri and Goruli Mtsvane grapes. It comes from an appellation in central Kartli and is the only appellation specifically dedicated to sparkling wine. Atenuri is slowly getting its due as people give increased attention towards high-quality sparkling wines.
Info: refreshing bubbles, delicate, straw color
Notes: aromas of citrus fruits, flavors of honeydew
Try: Bagrationi 1882