A crash course in Georgian drinking culture

The inaugural event of our very first foodie club – the Beijinger Fan Addicts Dining Club – is less than a week away at Georgia’s Feast!

But as well as a night of Georgian food, there will also be plenty of Georgian drink, and drinking in the country goes back a long way with plenty of rituals to boot. What follows is therefore a bit of an introduction.

Ancient wines for great ancient times

You might know a thing or two about the wines of France, Italy and California, or maybe you can get poetic about places like Australia, Washington State or even Romania and Italy. ‘Albania. But what do you think of one of the oldest wine regions in the world, Georgia?

Georgia is considered the “cradle of wine,” with archaeologists tracing the first winemakers to the South Caucasus in 6,000 BCE – when wine was created there almost entirely by accident.

Following this happy accident, putting grape juice in clay pots – known as qvevri – and burying it became a bit of a hit in the region, a tradition that continues to this day alongside more modern fermentation methods.

It’s not just history that defines Georgian wine, but diversity, with the country boasting more than 430 native grape varieties.

And on March 16, you can taste the most widely planted red wine grape variety in Georgia – Saperavi.

Translated as “dye” in English, it’s darker than dark red, with a full body and complex texture that can withstand a meaty Georgian feast.

In Georgia, chacha is more than a dance

But wine won’t be the only thing on offer on March 16. There are also pictures of chacha – the liquor that is.

This Georgian pomace brandy – pretty much Georgia’s version of grappa – is made from the leftovers of winemaking. Typically 40-65 percent ABV, chacha was originally a house drink that is currently having a moment in its homeland – served in a variety of ways, from flights to cocktails.

Finish it off with a toast

A Georgian feast, or above, is not complete without the toastmaster – alias tamadathe one who toasts.

These are not your ordinary toasts, however, as tamadas they are expected to be eloquent, intelligent and quick-witted to stand out and keep things lively. The topic can vary wildly, but generally the toasts are about: Georgia, peace, the deceased, life, parents, women, guests, the event or even the deceased guest. Toasts are only offered by the tamadawho serves as a guide throughout the festive evening.

Think you have what it takes to be a tamada? You can also test your toasting skills on March 16 – with wine prizes awarded to the best toastmaster in the bunch.

The thing is, making great Georgian toast is a little easier than you might think. here is an example from the 1955 Orson Welles film Mr. Arkadin (VPN enabled).

Besides all that drinking joy, there’s also food aplenty – with set menus for tables of two and four available, plus all the classic cocktails for 35 RMB throughout the night.

A table for two is 480 RMB (i.e. 240 RMB per person) while a table for four is 880 RMB (220 RMB per person). The price of the table includes a menu, wine and complements chacha strokes.

Scan the QR code on the poster to take your seats!

It’s a night you won’t want to miss – the first adventure in the pekingese Fan Addicts and their foray into the international cuisines of Beijing!

READ: Join us at Georgia’s Feast for the launch of our Fan Addicts Dining Club!

Images: The Pekingese, Georgia’s Feast, the-buyer.com

Helen D. Jessen