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The Warsaw Voice » Society » November 12, 2008
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Taste of Georgia
November 12, 2008   
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Georgia is arousing interest in Poland, and not only due to the recent turmoil in that country. People here are becoming increasingly curious about Georgian culture, customs and food. Michał Mychajliv, owner of the Winnice Krymu (Crimean Vineyards) wine distributor, talks with Anna Kosowska-Czubaj about the taste of Georgia in Warsaw and Georgian ideas about wine.

How did your adventure with Georgian wines begin?
All started when I was 18 and I was running a cafe in Ukraine specializing in Crimean, Moldovian and Georgian wines. Georgian wines were then considered, in contrast to Moldovian varieties, as exclusive, upmarket wines across the Soviet Union, including Ukraine. But my adventure with wine really flourished in Poland, when I established the Winnice Krymu firm specializing in the distribution of wines produced in the East in 2004. Today, I am an official importer of Georgian wines from the Kindzmarauli Marani vineyards for Western Europe.

You're also a wine producer...
Yes, I have a 1.5-hectare vineyard located at the very heart of the Kakheti wine region of Georgia. The region's heart is the locality of Kindzmarauli, which lies at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. The warm sun and the height of 200-500 meters above sea level have a big impact on viticulture.

At present, I produce two original wines. As for the Kindzmarauli Wine Cellar company, it offers 23 high quality wine brands. All of them are available from our Winnice Krymu company stores.

Buying a bottle of good Georgian wine, it would be good to know a few things about Georgian wine drinking customs.
There is actually a huge difference between the customs that accompany wine drinking in Georgia and, for example, Poland or Ukraine. Firstly, in Georgia they do not serve wine in bottles but in 1.5-liter pitchers. Remember that every Georgian is a winemaker. In Kakheti, it would be hard to find one that has not created an original, home-made wine. Every Georgian produces hundreds of liters of the beverage. Still a few decades ago, people used to drink wine from a bull's horn in Georgia. Today, these horns have a decorative function. Secondly, you can't have a glass of wine without a toast. Every toast is a story of sorts, and a rather elaborate one. The man who raises toasts, and by custom it is always a man, is called "tamada" and he acts as a master of ceremonies of the whole feast.

Warsaw has places where you not only can have a glass of Georgian wine but also taste regional delicacies.
You are welcome to aunt Zina Amaszukeli's, to the Tbilisi Restaurant at 24 Puławska St. There is no better place in Warsaw where to taste original Georgian food today.

What specifically?
The best known dish is khachapuri or Georgian pizza. Next go for the hinkali meat dumplings. You use your fingers to eat them, and they owe their originality and unique taste to the broth used in them. As Georgian housewives say, "the more broth, the better the cook." I would also recommend turkey in saciwi nut sauce and the lobio bean soup with nuts. Another must-have is a shashlik on a vine skewer: it has an absolutely unique taste.

You are the founder of Akademia Wina (Wine Academy), you travel around Europe, you pick grapes during the grape harvest season and carry buckets full of grapes by yourself. Why?
I'd rather touch, pick and taste grapes and create a wine together with a winemaker just one time than read about all that a hundred times. That experience is quite different from selling a label. Wine is my greatest passion. I keep extending my knowledge of it every day. To achieve that, I need to get to the origins, to the very roots.

More about Georgian wines and company stores at: www.winnicekrymu.com.pl, www.kmwine.ge and www.kmwine.eu
Tel. 0 509-202-101
Tbilisi Restaurant, 24 Puławska St., tel. 0-22 425-23-33
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