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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Georgian hospitality centers around wine and food

by Sharon Parsons

27.01.2013. Georgia, one of the oldest producing wine regions in the world, is rich in tradition. Georgian food and wine are best observed at a Georgian feast, or supra (a traditional banquet feast). In fact, it is hard to find the words to describe the experience. Part of the Georgian tradition is to have a toastmaster at such gatherings. Usually a toast is accompanied by a song or verse. While in Georgia we experienced a number of Georgian feasts that involved food and wine.

Georgian hospitality was super hot on a cold mid-November day when we arrived at Shumi Wine Company, Tsinandali in the Telavi region of Georgia. My primary goal for going to the Republic of Georgia was to better understanding what is involved in qvevri wine making. However, what I discovered first hand in Georgia was not only qvevri wine making but also a rich tradition centered on wine and food. Georgians truly know how to celebrate with wine and food. During a recent #EWBC post-conference trip to Georgia sponsored by the Georgian Wine Association, Spaswinefood experienced Georgian hospitality at its best.

Shumi Wine Company, Tsinandali

When we arrived at Shumi Wine Company in Tsinandali they were making a traditional lunch for us. Over lunch we were treated to traditional cuisine, such as Tone Bread (a Georgian bread), Khinkali (a Georgian dumpling), Churchkhela (sausage shaped candies) and more. Georgian cuisine has been described as being influenced by Middle Eastern and European traditions.

We sampled hot bread right out of the oven with cheese and wine. The food was super tasty. There was also a special dessert called Churchkela. Our host also barbecued Mtsvadi (shish kebab) for lunch. While we sampled some wine we watched the preparation of a type of dumpling, which I have learnt to be Khinkali. Check out the Khinkali recipe by Gabriella Opaz.

Of course let us not forget the entertainment during lunch. At Shumi we had an inviting lunch, sampled wines and listened to Georgian traditional polyphonic songs. There was no end to the fabulous Georgian cuisine that we were introduced to at Shumi and elsewhere in Georgia.

It is not every day that you get an opportunity to experience the rich wine and food traditions of a unique wine producing country, like Georgia. Spaswinefood's trip to Georgia was not only a fabulous opportunity to explore some of its wine regions but a discovery Georgian hospitality. An article by Harilan Wine and Spirits describes the wine regions of Georgia. During our trip we visited some of the wineries in the Kartli and Kakheti regions. A visit to Georgia is a must for hard-core wine enthusiasts. Our lunch at Shumi is an excellent example of the awesome hospitality that we experienced in Georgia. I look forward to writing about our Georgian wine experiences in my travel column at the Examiner, or you can visit at Spaswinefood.

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