Drinking Georgian Qvevri Wine Daily is Super Healthy!
30 August, 2017
Drinking Georgian Qvevri Wine Daily is Super Healthy!
As it is widely known, every Georgian holds pride in traditional wine and winemaking culture. Georgian is beloved by foreigner travelers and tourists due to its unique taste and flavor. Juliana Dever, an American actress and Travel Blogger, is one of them.

Juliana is passionate about travelling. She spends a lot of time traveling around the world, experiencing ot
her cultures and writing humorous essays about it.

Juliana runs personal blog named cleverdeverwherever.com, where she unveils her stories and experiences concerning her journey throughout the world.

This time, she devotes an article to Georgian wine made in Kvevri (large earthenware vessels used for the fermentation, storage and ageing of traditional Georgian wine).

As the article says, Georgian Kvevri wine is organic and more beneficial for health. Here is what author of the article says:

“Zaza knows that the wine made in qvevri takes out all concern from the body, it helps the heart to work properly, and all different kinds of diseases. Zaza says to ‘drink wine made in qvevri daily.’”

Zaza is not the only one who says this. It’s more or less the slogan of the entire country of Georgia. Maka, who is translating for Zaza Kbilashvili, one of the few qvevri makers in Georgia, smiles in agreement as she repeats the phrase.

“Drink Wine Made in Qvevri Daily.”

I think it’s what they stamp in your passport when you arrive.

But what’s a qvevri?

Pronounced KWEV-ry, the gorgeous egg-shaped vessel is a massive clay pot that’s buried in the ground up to its collar. Made with little more than earth and human handiwork, these giant clay urns are one of the purest creations. It’s a true collaboration between Mother Nature and man.

geotv.ge
Smaller qvevris for making wine and urns for pouring wine at the National Wine Agency. These pieces were found throughout Georgia and date back thousands of years.

It’s purpose: to make some of the most fascinating wine on earth. For at least 8,000 years Georgians have filled these qvevris with grapes and let the earth work its magic. The clay cauldron allows the juice and skins to ferment together, turning the fruit into a wine like you’ve never tasted before. It’s wild and rustic, earthy and richly tannic.

I’m in Kakheti, in the village of Vardisubani. Maka calls it the district of the roses. In this eastern region of Georgia only one other family makes qvevris that supply the entire country their winemaking crucible. Zaza’s family has been crafting these pots by hand for four generations now. He, along with Maka, explains how he makes each qvevri by hand.

“He brings clay from the forest, three different kinds of clay. He uses clay specifically good for qvevri. It takes experience to know which is the good clay. Clay that he uses contains lime, which has an antiseptic.” She crumbles the purplish earth between her fingers.
geotv.ge
Maka says the clay is so good that if she smears it directly on her face it will clean it. I feel like there’s another step in that equation, but I get her point. Let’s get back to this daily drinking thing though, because I hate missing out on health crazes.

As if reading my mind, Maka makes her physician-approved case.

“A few days ago Zaza had guests and some of them from the group were doctors. They approved that the wine made in qvevri is good for health. But if you drink too much, more than enough, it never helps. It will be harmful.”

Who’s to say what the correct dosage is though, really?
geotv.ge
We move into a small stone building filled with oversized clay bellies resting on stilts. They are so large it’s like an Alice in Wonderland effect. I feel so small.

How Qvevris Are Made

Zaza makes a rolling motion with his hands and explains the building process in Georgian. It’s a language that is vivid, round and punctuated with staccato for emphasis. Maka translates.
geotv.ge
“He makes these kinds of layers, but bigger ones for the building construction. And then with his small fingers, he begins to make coils. From the bottom, then every two days he adds, adds. If he wants to make the bigger one he makes big belly, if he wants to make the small one, then narrow and slim like me. “

She has a huge smile that glows in the dimly lit room. The clay is still moist and the room has a coolness that makes it feel like a basement even though it’s above ground.

It takes Zaza and his father about two to three months to finish eight qvevris at a time. They are about 1500-2000 liters and stand around seven feet tall. No two are exactly alike.

We head outside to the kiln, which I do not realize is a kiln because really it looks like a brick cave stuffed with flower pots on steroids. There’s room for eight qvevris propped upright.

After the handmade pottery is moved into the kiln, the firing process lasts for a week. During this one week, the temperature slowly moves up in 100-degree increments. I really had no clue this was such a delicate process.

“Only in the central part, there is a small free space left to be able to put the wood and to set the fire. You see inside? These are the only places for where the fire goes out and where the oxygen comes inside.” Zaza gestures.

I walk inside at Zaza’s invite. The firing process for these babies is complete, and the air around them is cool. I half expect to see a Mad Hatter or a bottle that reads, “Drink me” nearby. Considering we’re in the land of wine as a daily prescription, this is actually likely.
geotv.ge
“During this one week, Zaza and his father can’t sleep because they are very careful to increase the fire and not to let it fall down.” Zaza and Maka continue, overlapping Georgian and English as the story unfolds.

“If something happens and they fail then all their job will be in vain. So when it’s the firing process, you see the qvevris are a gold color and the fire is simmering inside. You can’t approach this area.”

Wandering around these towering objects, it’s inspiring to see the level of artisan skill that still exists. But even more so, to see the love and dedication that goes into making wine here in Georgia. Each step towards its creation is so sacred, an entire country’s lifeblood.

We move to the last part of the process, where the exterior of the qvevris are covered in limestone cement. We’re looking at two that are lying on their sides. Zaza leans on them to finish his story.

Making Qvevris – A Family Tradition

He’s a sturdy guy who smiles easily. Once a pro wrestler, he’s still beefy. He uses that brawn to pick me up and stuff me into one of his finished qvevri displays. I don’t object because really, how often does one get stuffed into a winemaking container? Also, it’s a pretty cool place to record Instagram stories what with the good acoustics and all.
geotv.ge
He didn’t always expect to be following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. With a degree from the University of Tbilisi, Zaza was on the faculty. But, he explains, amidst his “good job and good income in the capitol city, my family was calling me.”

He left everything and moved back to his village to carry on the tradition; to learn to hand make the precious clay vessels that keep Georgia’s winemaking heritage alive.

The way he talks about his creations is as if there is some magic in them that comes from beyond.

“Qvevris are like humans, they must breathe. It knows what temperature is good for wine and creates this temperature. Qvevri has the advantages that if a grape is sprayed with chemicals, the clay knows to pull the chemicals away.”

Zaza says during fermentation, grapes begin to move within the vortex. At the perfect time it stops moving, and each layer settles down to the pointy bottom. The process by which Georgian grapes become wine seems handled by the ingenuity of the qveri’s shape itself.
geotv.ge
Drinking wine is seriously a daily thing here in Georgia. No wonder everyone is so happy all the time.

After Zaza pulls me back out of the qvevri I ask him what he loves about his country.

“First of all, qvevri made Georgia more famous. The qvevri is so unique, it makes the perfect condition for wine to be made.” He grins like a Cheshire Cat.

I suppose I couldn’t have expected another answer.

Drinking Wine Made in Qvevri Cures What Ails You

He takes me into a small brick room, which appears to be built, I’m thinking, just for drinking. It’s set up with shot glasses, cheese and bread. Zaza holds up his treasured chacha for us to gaze upon.

Similar to grappa, it’s a spirit distilled from the remains of the winemaking process, the grape skins. Somehow Georgians do shots of this all day and seem totally fine. These people are hearty.

He pours us each a shot and toasts to us.
geotv.ge
Again Zaza speaks of the medicinal properties of the alcohol like we are at some kind of clinic lining up with ailments. “It helps with digestion. Also, you can rub it on your chest if you have a cold.” I’m pretty sure I’m fine, but I’ll remember this for next time.

We raise a glass of Georgian qvevri wine and toast to our health nonetheless.

“Gaumarjos!” we all clink and take a large gulp. The warmth rushes through me. I’m feeling better already.

The amazing folks at the Georgian National Wine Agency, all of whom drink Georgian qvevri wine daily, made my trip possible. All opinions my own, and I am also of the opinion that I should drink this magical wine daily.

Related stories:

Qvevri Winemaking on UNESCO Cultural Heritage List

Why one L.A. wine expert has Georgia on his mind. The country, that is…

Italian winemaker who uses kvevri technology - How he discovered Georgia looking for perfection
Print
Other Stories
Georgian Mariam Khatchvani among six best directors of the Cannes Film Festival
Emerging Georgian director Mariam Khatchvani was selected among six best film directors
Shooting of first Irish/Georgian feature film to start in March
First Irish-Georgian co-production is about to be launched.
Popular British singer Joss Stone performs in Georgian language
Popular British singer Joe Stone performed together with Salome Korkotashvili,
Emerging Georgian director’s Scary Mother among films of 2018 to watch
Young Georgian filmmaker Ana Urushadze’s debut feature Scary Mother was named among the best films to watch
Book Museum of National Library of Georgia featured at TripAdvisor
The Book Museum Tbilisi, one of the biggest book museums in the Caucasus region located at National Library of Georgia featured at TripAdvisor,
Outstanding Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze's life and career
January 31 marks the birthday of renowned Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze.
Michelangelo’s preparatory artworks on display at Georgian National Museum
Another pleasant surprise for art lovers - Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Italy
Georgian mezzo-soprano enchants New York
In a review of the opera Il Trovatore, the New York Times praises the performance of the Georgian singer Anita Rachvelishvili.
Georgian film The Trader wins Sundance Film Festival
Short film The Trader by Georgian director Tamta Gabrichidze, which has been purchased by Netflix
Exhibition dedicated to Georgian alphabet to be held in Council of Europe
The beauty and uniqueness of Georgian script is gaining more and more attention internationally.
Dato Turashvili is first Georgian writer featured at Berlinale book section
Dato Turashvili will become the first Georgian writer to be featured at a book section of the Berlinale Film Festival
UNESCO publication introduces Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet has been featured in a new UNESCO publication
Georgian director’s film Scary Mother to open Critics’ Week at Berlinale
Critics’ Week will be held in Berlin on February 14-22, at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Two Georgian heritage sites among 12 most endangered places in Europe
The heritage organization Europa Nostra named 12 European heritage sites shortlisted for the “7 Most Endangered Programme” 2018.
Five Georgian films to be presented at Brussels BOZAR arts centre
Five successful works by Georgian directors will be screened at Brussels’ BOZAR Centre of Fine Arts
Celebrated Georgian conductor Jansug Kakhidze‘s life and career
January 10 marks the birthday of world-renowned Georgian conductor, composer and a singer Jansug Kakhidze.
Three Georgian filmmakers selected as Berlinale talents
Screenwriter and producer Nino Varsimashvili, director and producer Rati Tsiteladze and director Anna Sarukhanova are among 250 promising filmmakers from 81 countries.
Renowned artist trying to preserve Georgian architecture through his paintings
Georgian arist Revaz Adamia has been struggling to preserve the unique Colchian odas,
Georgian movie listed among The Best Films Of 2017 You Didn’t See
Georgian film My Happy Family has been named among The Best Films Of 2017 that one might not have seen by The Playlist,
Georgian Alphabet Brought to Life through Art
The Georgian alphabet has captured interest on a global scale
Kordz: Young Georgian electronic music producer and composer hits the scene
Alexandre Kordzaia is a young Georgian electronic music producer and composer better known by his nickname Kordz.
90th anniversary of Georgian-German writer who was nominated for the Nobel Prize twice
December 14 marked the 90th anniversary of renowned writer and philosopher Givi Margvelashivili.
Georgian Actor on the Latest Success & Berlinale 2018
European Shooting Stars, the annual prestigious selection of 10 young talents to watch, has announced its fresh faces for 2018,
Georgian author Nino Kharatishvili awarded German literary prize
The sixth Hertha-König-Preis was given to the Georgian writer Nino Kharatishvili.
 Tchaikovsky worked on his Sleeping Beauty when staying in Georgia
Many distinguished persons such as Alexandre Dumas, Knut Hamsun traveled to Tbilisi and were captivated by its diversity and beauty.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
24.02.2018
25.02.2018
USD
1
USD
2.4671
2.4671
EUR
1
EUR
3.0375
3.0375
GBP
1
GBP
3.4475
3.4475
RUB
100
RUB
4.3763
4.3763
Other Stories
Promising Georgian actor Irakli Kvirikadze has been featured in a trailer
National Georgian Ballet Sukhishvili (also known as Sukhishvilebi) have recently presented their new program
The European Film Promotion (EFP) presented the 10 best emerging actors from Europe
It is an ancient tradition in Georgia, yet very alive.
The most festive season, New Year is coming and everyone seeks for winter fairs and markets to purchase presents and decorations for their loved ones.
My Georgian Reality is the illustration series inspired by everyday life.
Georgia’s latest and one of the most successful Georgian films My Happy Family is already available on Netflix.
After winning the special prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA),
With tonight’s screening the Tbilisi International Film Festival starts for the 18th time.
This year marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Petre Otskheli, one of the leading 20th century modernist artists
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.4671
EUR
1
EUR
3.0375
GBP
1
GBP
3.4475
RUB
100
RUB
4.3763