Qvevri gruzińska tradycja winiarska

Qvevri Georgian wine tradition

February 21, 2022
People in Georgia have two main traditional winemaking techniques. Eastern part the heart of winemaking region is Kakheti and there we call it Qvevri wine. western part of Georgia its Imereti and there we call it Churi. The qvevri is that clay vessels used for making wines according to the traditional Georgian method. Very little details are written about of history of Qvevri, how they are produced and how wine was made. There where academies like Ikhalto and Alaverdi where winemaking was as course from eights century. Modern Qvevris range from 100 to 4000 but more useful is 1000-1200 liters. It takes about two weeks to build up one qvevri, firing process lasts five or six days in the regular temperature.

Qvevri East

In estern Georgia qvevri are planted in a wine cellar which we call “Marani”. Under the earth there is regular temperature about 60-64 F. and this is best temperature for fermenting and maturing wine. Historically Georgian white wine which is Amber colour because of skin contact were produced in both parts of Georgia, Kakhetian Technique means when grapes are being poured into qvevri immediately after crushing, often with all of the skins and percentage of stems, of course the percentage of stems depends how ripen they were. After a period of punching down, when the fermentation is completed, the qvevri will be sealed with a lid, typically of stone or more recently glass and the wine left to clarify over a period of months, often up to six months. Eastern Georgia is warm with climate so acidities in wine softs enough that malolactic fermentation is not desired. By March the solids should have settled and wine will be clear. Red wines made in qvevri differ little from red wines made else-where in cement eggs. The grapes macerated with the skins through the alcoholic fermentation, than the wine is racked into a new qvevri or barrel or tank for elevage and further clarification.

Western Qvevri

Qvevri gruzińska tradycja winiarska Western method of traditional winemaking is Churi, difference between qvevri and churi is just quantity of pressed grape skins and stems, it is just 30% of all crushed grapes. Nature splitted as cousin as wine in two parts. Kakhetian cousin is known with much more intense meat dishes so it needed wine which will be in a best pair with it. Western Georgia is known with its spices and mostly herbal anc cheesy dishes so the wine they are creating is much more high with acidity and light with body, their churi wines not always becomes amber colour, they are mostly look like classic wine lemon or golden colour. Most small producers bottle each qvevri separetly. Main problem producing qvevri wine is hygiene. Its very hard to clean qvevri in such conditions to avoid bacteries in it, which is risky for wine. its said that you have to clean qvevri as much that the water in it under your legs had to be drinkable. Properly maintained, a qvevri can last for centuries. Some of natural wines without sulfur dioxide, are less likely to be protected against the travails of transport and are at greater risk for degradation from the time of harvest thenceforth. Its risky but it costs it because you can feel the main reason why wine was created on the earth and why we love it so much!  
Author: Tazo Tamazashvili Tazo Tamazashvili Best Sommelier in Georgia 2018