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Traditional Georgian winemaking method

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

A glass of red wine and hanging grapes from the top, with clay jar in the background
Clay vessel

Winemaking method in Georgia

The traditional wine making methodology in Georgia is based on the use of a special vessel known as Qvevri which is nothing but an egg-shaped vessel made out of clay. The vessel, although it has become so famous all over the world for wine making, still remains a native specialty of the western regions of Georgia. The people over there call the vessel by a different name which is Churi. The vessel is actually a huge pit-like utensil that is buried in the ground which allows the grapes to ferment gradually. There is a little dispute among the researchers over the entire process, especially over the fact related to the placement of Qvevri. A few of the researchers who study the traditional techniques of Georgian wine production say that the vessel were buried deep within the earth with only the rim of the vessel visible to the people. There are others who argue differently by saying that the utensil was not kept buried under the ground but rather the process was carried out above the ground. The former argument seems a bit more realistic considering the necessity of the anaerobic environment that is needed for a quality fermentation process to take place. The utensils, Qvevris, were available in different sizes but they were all in general, large vessels with standard capacity being 1850 liters. There was use of Sulphur in the ancient days although the use of the element seems to have been ruled out considering the possibilities of contamination. Another thing which has to be noted is that not only the fruits, but the seeds, stems and everything else were also added to the vessel. There was no yeast added however to speed up the process as is the culture nowadays (Vigentini et al., 2016).

Vigentini, I., Maghradze, D., Petrozziello, M., Bonello, F., Mezzapelle, V., Valdetara, F., Failla, O. and Foschino, R., (2016). Indigenous Georgian wine-associated yeasts and grape cultivars to edit the wine quality in a precision oenology perspective. Frontiers in microbiology, 7, p.352.

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