I’ve said Georgia is the place for wine. The oldest evidence for wine-making has been found in Georgia, dating back to 8000 years ago, and wine has been in steady production there since then. Even their indigenous word for wine, ghvino, is thought to have influenced Indo-European languages – vinum (Latin), oinos (Greek), and, of course, vino (Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc). As of 6000 years ago, the people now called Georgians essentially created the method of winemaking that remains in use today. For those Georgians who make wine at home, they follow roughly the same procedure. Almost all commercial wine, however, has begun to be made using Western European methods, in an effort to appeal to a global palate. Appealing they are, some even excellent. Pheasant’s Tears has stuck to the ways of their distant ancestors, and their wines are nothing short of amazing.
So I’ve told you where to go and what to see, how about some more practical information? Transportation, costs, accommodations, food and drink…How to make the most of your time and money once you’re there.
Transportation: For far-flung trips to Kazbegi or Kakheti, or even further, it can be useful to rent a car – without doing so, getting to Davit Gareji would have been a huge pain in the ass, and all these stops after the jump, going to and from Kazbegi, would have been unlikely if not impossible without hiring a taxi at an exorbitant fee: (more…)
So you’ve decided that Georgia looks beautiful, the people sound lovely, and the food delicious. Right you are! Now you want to visit. Hurrah! Tourism is a quickly growing sector of the economy, and as I’ve said before, it’s definitely worth it.
Now then, you may ask : “where and when should I go, what is there to see, how do I get around, and what does it cost? And I have other questions too!” Today we focus on the where…obviously it’s biased towards where I went in the limited time I had, but having done my research, as a hard baller should, I determined that the following would be the highlights of the country, and I was right.
Hidden from whom, you may ask? Certainly for anyone with any background in the Eastern bloc, the Republic of Georgia is no secret; ask any Russian about khachapuri and expect drooling. But for the majority of us here in the West, the Middle East, or Asia, Georgia and the Caucasus in general remain largely unknown. At only 4 million people, it’s smaller than just the capital of American Georgia, and often the latter is what pops into people’s heads when they hear the unqualified name. At least Wikipedia takes you to a disambiguation page…
But I want to change that. Georgia is a lovely, remarkable country, with an ancient and distinctive history and culture, some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve set eyes on, and people that give even Arabs a run for the money in the hospitality department. Let’s not forget that the food and wine are brilliant and plentiful, too. (more…)
I make no pretensions of being a wine critic, as I find that profession mostly full of hyperbole and bullshit, and I won’t go into “bits of jam and twig with sniffles of cherry ice cream and hints of fairy breath” here. I do know a damn good wine when I drink one though, and we have a winner here: Château Haut Blaignan 2010, from Bordeaux’s elite Médoc region, home to some of France’s most superb wines. For $7, Haut Blaignan is making a bloody good effort. Yes, $7, if you can find at your local Trader Joe’s. It normally retails for about $16, and I’d put it on par with $30 bottles I’ve had. It’s really that good. Seriously, buy a case if TJ’s has one, or just get a few bottles to enjoy at home by the fireplace or to take to a small gathering and wow the hell out of everyone with your awesome erudition in oenology. Cheers!