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Monday, April 22, 2013

Georgian evening in Copenhagen

22.04.2013. Allan Sondergaard is 43 years-old, Danish and born in Copenhagen. He has been married to Lotte for 12 years and together they have a boy Mikkel age ten and a daughter Nora age seven. They live 30 km north of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Allan works as a commercial advisor for an oil company (Shell) and in his spare time enjoy very diverse hobbies like fishing, golf and he creates jewelry and enjoys great food and wine.

Prior to studying together with Georgia Today’s publisher “George from Georgia” (George Sharashidze) in Manchester UK, he admits knowing close to nothing about Georgia apart from where it is and owning a couple of CDs with Georgian born singer Katie Melua. Allan has agreed to tell about the recently-held Georgian tasting event at an informal wine-club in Denmark.

Allan Sondergaard: To give a bit of background we are five couples who are friends and meet regularly. We all share an interest in wine and good food and hence we formed a “wine-club” in 1999 and decided to meet five times a year, the first Saturday of every second month. Each couple hosts one wine tasting a year. The host decides the “theme” of the tasting and the accompanying menu. Every year in July, we have our “general assembly” where we decide on the dates and hosts for the coming year.

As you can imagine, we have had a lot of tastings through the years, so we have been through all the “regular” themes so I like to use our little club to try out more exotic or less common wines from across the world.

So when my Georgian friend George brought Georgian wines to our MBA workshop in Manchester along with churchkela, I immediately started thinking about creating a Georgian tasting in our club. George gave me a nice bottle of white wine, which I enjoyed together with my wife when I returned from Manchester, and she liked both the wine and the idea.

Apart from the help from George in the planning, my wife and I also found a book on Georgia, Georgian culture and food. In addition, we found a company who imports Georgian wines to Denmark. It is led by a Georgian woman who lives here in Denmark for about 5 years together with her husband who is also Georgian. Then the consulate asked her if she would be interested in importing Georgian wines. She does not drink it herself, but she accepted the offer. While we found the company on the internet, it happened to have its address less than ten kilometers from where we live, so my wife picked up the wine and had a nice chat with her.

Now a little more specific on how our Georgian wine tasting went:

We started by welcoming the guests at 18.30 and explained to them the theme of the evening. We explained a little about Georgia and my good friend there and we explained about the “Supra” and some of the traditions around it.

We also followed what we believe is common in Georgia: we had bread, salt and cheese on a small platter as a symbol of our hospitality and our home being ready to welcome guests. During the supra we obviously had plenty of toasts e.g. one for my Georgian friend George, one for Georgia, one for our wine club and of course for my wife who admittedly had done most of the cooking and especially the planning on pulling the menu  together.

Inspired by what we believe is typical in Georgia we served seven small simple dishes along with the wines. In particular, we tasted seven Georgian wines in this order:

1) Marani; Tvishi (2009) (white)

2) Chateau Mukhrani; Mtsvane (2009) (white)

3) Chateau Mukhrani; Chardonnay (2008) (white)

4) Chateau Mukhrani; Tavkveri (2010) (rosй)

5) Chateau Mukhrani;  Saperavi Cabernet (2007) (red)

6) Kondoli wineyards; Saperavi-Merlot (2007) (red)

7) Orovela; Saperavi Cabernet Sauvignon (2006) (red)

As is customary in Denmark however, we finished with coffee and a bit of chocolate.

Our friends received the whole concept of the Georgian Supra very well. The last guests left at 2 am, which considering that we all have relatively small kids that get up early it is not bad I think. Of all the wines the white wines were praised most. The first one was quite sweet, hence we used it as an appetizer, but as some of the guest pointed out: “it could well be used as a desert wine and would go well with chocolate.”

The wine we almost all agreed to be the best of the day was the Kondoli, red wine. Merlot has long been my favorite grape and the mix with Saperavi is exciting and well balanced. Other comments were: “It’s different from what we typically taste, but goes well with the deer”, “The Saperavi grape is very different from the grapes we are used to in Denmark, but mixed with the merlot it works well”, “I have to say I didn’t enjoy the wine on pure Saperavi much, but this is good”, “It would be exciting to try and store it for another couple of years…”

Personally I also enjoyed the rosй and the guests agreed that it would be wonderful with a light meal on the terrace during summer.

Danes drink a lot of wine and while some 20 years ago France was the dominant wine country, today there is a much wider selection of wines available from around the world, not only in wine stores, but in every supermarket. California, South Africa, Australia, Chile and Argentina have gained significant market shares and in recent years, Italian wine has become perhaps the most popular of all in Denmark.

It is however not at always easy to get Georgian wine in Denmark. You do not find it in the supermarkets but on the internet you find two shops where you can buy it as we did. In other words – you need to search for it; you do not “bump into it” or get introduced to it. Price wise the Georgian wines we found were relatively cheap.

Danes are generally informal people and we kept the supra along those lines and just had a wonderful “Georgian” evening. I think our friends have learned a lot more about Georgia than they did before and have a first taste of what Georgia has to offer. “It wasn’t just about wines from yet another country, but end-to-end a Georgian evening in Copenhagen.”

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