Friday, April 21, 2017

Japan's magazine focuses on Georgian wine

21.04.2017. (Hvino News). Japan's leading magazine NIKKEI STYLE published an article on Georgian wine by Chiharu Otsuka, entitled "The World’s Oldest and Buried in Underground - Georgia’s “Doki Wine”.

Thanks to Embassy of Georgia in Japan, we repost the full translation of the article from Japanese:

Past few years, wine from a certain country is gaining more attentions in the world. It is wine from Georgia, one of the post-soviet states which Japanese people used to call Gurujia until recently.

It all started when the wine making method in Georgia was recorded as one of the intangible cultural heritages of UNESCO in 2013. The method is to use the egg-shaped clay vessels called Qvevri. They store the vessels underground and let the grapes inside fermented.

“We store the vessels underground because the temperature is stable there. Grape’s seeds and stalks are put into the vessels as well therefore the wine contains high level of tannin which is a kind of polyphenol.” Mr. Archil Machavariani, Minister-Counsellor at the Embassy of Georgia to Japan explains.

According to Mr. Machavariani, some discoveries at the old sites suggest that the wine making started in Georgia 8,000 years ago. He proudly said that the Georgian word “Gvino” is said to be the origin of the word “wine” in other countries.

During the interview, I noticed that a word which sounds familiar to me was repeated and it turned out that the clay pitcher which they put wine is called “Doki” in Georgia. It is surprising that the pronunciation is almost the same as “Doki (means clay vessels in Japan)” in Japanese.

Today Georgians are making wine in other method as well since the traditional Qvevri takes too much efforts. However there has been an upward trend in wine export and Japan is among the top 10 importing countries now. In Georgia, there are more than 500 indigenous grape varieties and people are encouraged to cultivate them.

“Actually, a DNA analysis recently revealed that the Japanese Koshu grape used for white wine is related to the Georgian origin grape. As some Japanese sommeliers guaranteed, Georgian wine goes well with Japanese food like Sushi.” (Mr. Machavariani)

Kakheti in eastern Georgia is known as the most famous wine producing region but the wine is produced in every regions all over the country. Not to mention the production for commercial purposes, most of the household makes “homemade wine” in Georgia. Nowadays the popularity of qvevri wine is growing in the world and some countries like France, Italy and even Japan have started to make wine with this method.

Mr. Machavariani told me that there is a Japanese woman opened a winery in Georgia which qvevri method is introduced.

To try to taste such a popular Georgian wine, I visited the food & beverage exhibition FOODEX held at Makuhari Messe at the beginning of March. Looking at some Georgian winery booths, this slightly orange-y wine caught my eyes. This was Qvevri white wine.

A lady standing at the booth poured the white wine for me and said “White wine made by this method makes the color of wine orange because the grape skin is fermented in the vessels as well. This white wine has strong taste that goes well with meaty dishes.

The wine smelled like dried fruits and it had a depth in the taste that was more than just fruitiness. The grape used for this wine was Rkatsiteli. For red Qvevri wine, Saperavi is widely used. “I like to drink white one with Georgian barbeque Mtsvadi. It tastes wonderful if you try with some pork liver.” She said. Mtsvadi is a pork barbeque.

“In Georgia, we also have some fish dishes made by the ones caught in the Black Sea which our country is faced.” she continued. However I was recalling Mr. Machavariani who loves red wine also recommended me some wine friendly Georgian dishes that were meaty ones.

A stew made with lamb and white wine “Chakapuli”, a boiled beef dish “Khashlama”, Georgian dumpling “Khinkali” and a cheese-filled bread “Khachapuri”.

I was searching for the place where I can eat these Georgian dishes and ended up finding Khachapuri at the restaurant “Café Russia” at Kichijoji in Tokyo that serves Russian and Georgian dishes. The round shaped bread filled with white cheese. Sulguni cheese which is called Georgian Mozzarella.

The bread was served at the table and I felt the savory aroma of the pie crust. Once you taste it the surface is crispy yet the inside has soft chewy texture. I took a piece of the bread on my hand and hot melted cheese came out.

I had Saperavi red wine with the cheese filling bread. It was not Qvevri but the dark red-purple colored wine with smooth and strong taste was a great match with the cheese bread. I caught a glimpse of the Georgian dining scene that day.

© Hvino News / Embassy of Georgia to Japan
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