Zangaura Picnic

Georgia’s Food and Wine Culture

Having been lured to Georgia in large part to explore its food and wine culture, then to experience it in the company of Kristo and Georgi from Ezo Tours, was to be immersed in the hospitality and generosity for which Georgians are famous.

This is the story of a single day of discovery and delight, from the market in Telavi to the Zangaura Winery and then to a picnic that stretched from late afternoon into the night.

Telavi Market

Talevi Market, in the capital of Kakheti, places Georgian culinary tradition firmly in its agrarian roots.

The Kristo churchkhela taste test passed.

From the vast array of herbs, to the fist press sunflower seed oil; from the tkemali sour plum sauce to the dried red adjika spice mix: Telavi Market is impressive. Olia Hercules, in her book Kaukasis, caught the magic. Speaking of a local herb, ombalo, she wrote “Imagine marjoram and mint making love on some swampy marshes and bearing a wild herb child.” That is the essence.

Natural Winemaking

From Telavi to Zangaura Winery

Merab Buladze, owner and winemaker, reclaimed family property 15 years ago, continuing a long tradition of Georgian winemaking.

From his cellar he uses both traditional open fermentation methods in qvevri, 1,200 litre clay pots, as well as modern yeast induced fermentation in steel vats.

His 40 hectare vineyard, in the lee of the Caucasus Mountains and in sight of the Russian border, uses all natural wine growing methods.

He produces award-wining saperavi red wines, as well as a range of white wines such as rkatsiteli and kisi - and now, unusually, a rose.

Fermentation in the qvevri takes up to a year, with up to six months on the lees. Temperature is controlled with a water cooling system.

From market to table


Kristo and Georgi, not only tour guides, also run Ezo restaurant in Tbilisi. And they do Perfect Picnic. Enjoy!

The kitchen crew takes a break

And then, the sun long down, the last dish served, our generous hosts take their moment in the spotlight.

This is the third of four stories from Georgia. Follow me here for the next chapter, Tbilisi Culinaria. And check out the first two, Tales from Tbilisi and Khaketi: East of Tbilisi!

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