Friday, April 15, 2016

Day One of Wine Tour – Tbilisi and the Georgian National Museum

(March 2016) The next morning, I awoke very excited about the first official day of our wine tour organized by the Georgian Wine Association.  The first stop was fittingly the Georgian National Museum where we were welcomed with a short lecture overviewing the wine industry, and then invited to tour the museum in order to see the oldest winemaking equipment and pips in the world.

Oldest Qvevri in the World

We saw the oldest qvevri, carbon dated at over 8000 years.  It was smaller than I expected, but then it was explained that many people in Georgia make wine in their backyard, so they use smaller qvevri that they can manage as home winemakers.  The larger qvevri are used by the commercial wineries. Just to clarify, a qvevri is different from an amphora:

    Qvevri – a clay pot used to ferment and store wine, and is buried in the ground

    Amphora – a clay pot used to transport wine, and not buried in the ground

Oldest Qvevri in the World - 8000 Years

Oldest Grape Pips in the World

They were kind enough to bring out the exhibits of the oldest carbon dated wine grape pips in the world for us to view.  It was amazing to look at the tiny black seeds and realize they had been found in a qvevri and had been used to produce and ancient wine more than 8000 years ago!

While visiting the museum, we also learned of three ancient legends of Georgia, and the first two are connected to wine. (See other post).

Oldest Wine Grape Pips in the World - 8000 Years

Lunch and Master Tasting at Vinotel

That afternoon we went to Vinotel, which is a fancy boutique hotel and restaurant.  We were allowed to tour some of the rooms, and I would greatly enjoy staying here on a future visit. While there we had a Masterclass on Georgian wine regions and statistics (see post), and also tasted 12 wines. Afterwards we were treated to the first of several long lunches (supra  - a feast with multiple dishes, toast, and wine), which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Lunch Menu at Vinotel in Tbilisi

Stuffed Trout in Berry Sauce for Lunch at Vinotel

Tasting and Dinner at Culinarium

That evening, we took a bus to the Culinarium, a new and trendy cooking school and restaurant with a very talented local chef, who prepared a multi-course tapas style private dinner for us.  Again, we sampled many excellent local wines, and were bathed in the warm glow of Georgian hospitality and gourmet food.

Wine Tasting Before Dinner at Culinarium Restaurant in Tbilisi

Dipping Sauces for Homemade Georgian Flatbread at Culinarium Restaurant

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