Thursday, February 18, 2016

Georgia's Wines

The World’s Oldest Wine Region
                       For the Love of Wine, by Alice Feiring

Reviewed by Doc Lawrence

A special dinner was served in the stately old Monticello, Florida mansion that included baked grouper, fried shrimp, farm fresh vegetables and local oysters. Impressive wines were served with each course. All were from the Republic of Georgia.

Georgia was just about the last stop on the Silk Road, and its food is laced with the perfumes and tastes of India, Greece, North Africa and Persia. History would suggest that wines are made here and if you guessed that, you’d be right.

The accomplished author Alice Feiring first arrived in Georgia in 2011, and discovered exotic and delicious wines made like they did for past centuries. According to her, this country on the Black Sea has an unusual effect on people, arousing passions and emotions. Visiting winemakers fall under Georgia’s spell and bring home qvevris (clay fermentation vessels) inspired to rethink their own techniques.

For the Love of Wine is Feiring’s highly enjoyable tale of a remarkable country and people who have survived religious wars and Soviet occupation yet managed to hold onto their precious wine traditions. Embedded in her narrative is the hope that Georgia has the temerity to confront modernization.

Feiring senses that danger. With acclaim and growing international interest come threats in the guise of new wine consultants aimed at making wines more commercial. So Feiring wrote a book, her way of fighting back by celebrating Georgia and the men and women who make the wines she loves, made naturally with organic viticulture, minimal intervention, and no additives.

From Tbilisi to Batumi, Feiring meets winemakers, bishops, farmers, artists, and silk spinners. She feasts, toasts, and collects recipes. She encounters the thriving qvevri craftspeople of the countryside, wild grape hunters, and even Stalin’s last winemaker while plumbing the depths of Georgia’s love for its wines.

By the time you’ve picked up For the Love of Wine, says Christine Muhlke, executive editor of Bon Appétit, “Georgian wine will be internationally known.” She asks “what do God, Stalin, and truth have to do with great wine? Follow [Feiring] her on her journeys into a rich and fascinating culture and find out.”

Georgian wines are many and diverse. Saperavi is a substantial deep red wine suitable for extended aging, even up to fifty years. It is the most important grape variety used to make their red wines

Bodbe is made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety in the village of Bodbe in the Magaro microdistrict, one of the most beautiful places of Kakheti. The wine has a light-straw color, an aroma of wild flowers and a pleasing taste giving the wine piquancy highly praised by connoisseurs.

A fortified wine, Anaga is similar to Madeira, a strong wine made from Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi and Mtsvane grapes. The wine is light-golden to dark-amber color, a muscular bouquet with a clearly pronounced Madeira touch. Enjoy it with rich chocolate.

Select Georgian Wines
Byron Moraski has traveled in Georgia and arranged for the wonderful Georgian wines to be delivered for the Monticello dinner. Moraski, who lives in Gainesville, Florida, says that in a Georgian home, a toastmaster is charged with entertaining guests and telling stories and jokes. They know, he adds, that wine has been made in Georgia much longer than in France and Western Europe, and they like to brag that they are the birthplace of wine. In the summer of 2008, he heard the famous Georgian fable: “God was giving out land to the various nations of the world. The Georgians were too busy drinking to attend. Arriving late, God was angry and asked why they had disrespected Him. He had already given out all the plots of land. But the Georgians replied that far from disrespecting God they were late because they were drinking to His health. God smiled at these merry people and decided to give them the land he had been keeping for himself…”

For the Love of Wine
My Odyssey through the World's Most Ancient Wine Culture

Alice Feiring
Potamac Books 2016

Georgia's Natural Beauty-Byron Moraski


  1. I would love to try some of these wine. I get very excited trying wines from places not usually associated with wine and Georgia is certainly one of them.

  2. Wow. This looks like a fascinating read and would love to try these wines... if only I could find one!

  3. Visited there last weekend with a group of friends, and had all the fun we could handle. I really like the ambiance at Chicago venues. There's a decent draft beer selection at a reasonable price and the bartenders are good at what they do.