Qvevri- ancient technology wine production

December 17, 2020

Qvevri's history

The word Qvevri (from Georgian ქვევრი) in Georgia is a ceramic jug without handles. The container is made in the form of a cone and it is necessary for the production of some varieties of wine. It is impossible to accurately date the appearance of these jars on the territory of Georgia. The most ancient artifacts found during excavations are estimated to be about eight thousand years old. The vessels were made from special clay in a limited area. In its present form, the Qvevri have existed for at least two thousand years. The pitcher becomes sharp at the bottom: so it is more convenient to bury it in the ground. It is necessary to immerse it there up to the neck, so that the drink inside is kept at a stable temperature, which is very favorable for the quality. In 2011, Qvevri was classified as an intangible cultural heritage of Georgia, and in 2013, the corresponding method of making alcoholic beverages was included in the UNESCO Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. More than 500 grape varieties are grown in Georgia, although only 40 are used in winemaking, including autochthonous varieties: Rkatsiteli, Saperavi, Kisi and others. The Kakheti region is considered the record holder for the amount of wine produced. Of course, it produces mainly wines and European technologies, but recently there has been a real renaissance of Qvevri-the subtleties of the method are passed down from generation to generation.

Production process in Qvevri

Qvevri is filled with grapes, often together with the crests of the bunches. During the fermentation process, under the influence of carbon dioxide, the pulp (the cake left after squeezing the juice) rises to the top, and at the end of this period, when the gas is released outside, it goes to the bottom, after which the jug is clogged until spring and left in special marani cellars. Marani is a cool room where qvevri with wine is stored. Under these conditions, the wine matures and is infused on the pulp for several months. In the spring, the containers are opened, the liquid is already poured into other dishes without sediment. When the wine is ready, it is gradually extracted with ladles, and the empty Qvevri is washed. This is a long and complex process that requires a lot of water and C. To clean the Qvevri from the inside, a special brush made of bark is used. In wine museums and in Marani, it is often seen during production. This method of production is called Kakheti, as well as the region in the east of Georgia, where it was invented in ancient times. Wine can even be transported directly to Qvevri using a special trolley. The size of the vessels can be different: from the volume of an ordinary jug to several hundred liters. There are also quite gigantic ones that can hold up to several tons.

Interesting facts about Qvevri

Every year in autumn, the great Georgian holiday of Rtveli takes place – two months of dancing, singing and declarations of love for grapes. It is not for nothing that Georgians treat wine as a woman: how you take care of it, with what mood you will do – this is how it will turn out. Qvevri are made by special craftsmen, most often they are whole families – after all, it is simply impossible to build such a vessel alone – Qvevri can be several thousand liters in volume. The production of one such vessel can take up to four months – only the firing takes five days! In each region, qvevri have their own characteristics: for example, a jug from Megrelia has a narrower neck. Qvevri in Georgia are found at every turn. At some temples, you can see dozens of them. They say that the qvevri with wine brought to the temple for the festival cannot be taken back, so they accumulate there indefinitely. Qvevri can always be seen in the village garden, in the city near restaurants, or just as an element of street decoration. In some restaurants, you can see false Qvevri: a hole is made in the floor, a neck from the Qvevri is placed there and closed from above with glass.