The whole event was one big tasting of the country's finest. Cheese producers from various regions laid out tastes of their mold covered and wine soaked specimens, winery representatives poured generous tastes into stemmed wine glasses and a pottery artist sold his wares of traditional Georgian goblets.
We tasted an amazing cheese made by a nunnery (The Saint Nino Nunnery in Phoka village in the Javakheti region of Georgia). The nunnery is in an alpine area where cattle breeding and agriculture are the main businesses. The nunnery produces over 16 unique types of cheeses. My husband enjoyed a nutty, hard cheese wrapped in leaves. I enjoyed a cheese that had hints of a heavy cream brie and a mild blue cheese.
I had my first sip (okay, sips!) of Georgian Brandy and was amazed at how smooth it was. Initially, it had a strong tobacco taste and then a wonderful warmth circulated throughout my body after a few sips. It sells at our local grocery and I've wondered what it tastes like several times, so it was fun to give it a try.
And, we tried countless wines from various regions of Georgia. One of the surprises of the day was by a winery called Old Tbilisi. The newly opened Carrefour market in Tbilsi has been selling it for about 4 lari (approximately $2.50 US) for a dry white and about 8 lari for a dry red. I hadn't purchased it thinking the label looked touristy and the price seemed to low. But, after a few sips, you know what? I have since visited Carrefour and purchased a couple of bottles for the house! Delicious.
Another surprise was sampling the only handcrafted wine produced by a Georgian family in the United States. Eristavi Family Winery was pouring tastes and it was a pleasure sampling their buttery dry whites. Native to Georgia, Vintner Victor Eristavi uses old-world wine making techniques and California grape varietals to create his wines. His winery is located on Treasure Island in San Francisco, California.
If you're States-based and interested in exploring Georgian wines further, I found a site that features some of my favorites (at a bit of a higher price than we pay here in Georgia!). And, if you're in the UK, here's a great site with more information on Georgian wines.
And, just for fun, here's a look at a tasting I did at my home prior to my summer holiday! I couldn't help it-- I loved the 'Dual Mysterious Wine' label so much and had to try it. (The wine is used for regular table wine and approved by the Georgian church for religious ceremonies!) And, the amber wine was from a winery established in 1011-- the Alaverdi Monastery Cellar.