With a diverse landscape, vibrant capital city and a viticultural history dating back centuries, Georgia is the perfect destination for the wine enthusiast.
Wedged between Europe and Asia, the Republic of Georgia is a small country that’s big on dramatic mountain scenery, fascinating cultural traditions and famously warm hospitality. Though relatively undiscovered by tourists, and hence lacking the kind of infrastructure synonymous with more developed countries, Georgia is rapidly gaining a reputation as a captivating off-the-beaten-track holiday destination which merits exploration.
A relative newcomer as an international tourist destination, Georgia still offers a wide range of accommodation to suit any budget. Backpackers wanting to explore the country on a shoestring will have no difficultly finding great value guesthouses and B&Bs, whilst those looking for a more upmarket experience will not be disappointed either, with major cities Tbilisi and Batumi boasting a number of luxury hotels which offer first class amenities, elegant décor and the sort of impeccable service you’d expect from four and five star establishments. Tbilisi’s design-centric Stamba and stylish Bazzar Boutique hotels are amongst the most notable.
Food and wine are a huge part of Georgia’s national identity, and given its geographical position at the crossroads of two continents, it’s hardly surprising to learn that Georgian cuisine marries eastern and western influences in its unique, flavoursome dishes. Khinkali - dumplings with a soupy spiced meat filling - are ubiquitous and considered something of a national dish here, whilst Khachapuri - a traditional bread filled with melted cheese that comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes - are similarly heralded. Both are served as street snacks as well as at many of the country’s restaurants and bars, with different regions often putting their own twist on the traditional recipe.
Winemaking in Georgia dates back more than 8,000 years, and the traditional method of production - using Qvevri (egg-shaped clay vessels) to store and age the wine - has been recognised by UNESCO on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. There are more than 500 indigenous grapes here, of which Saperavi is perhaps the most admired, producing rich, inky wines with great ageing potential. The Kakheti region, around 50 miles east of Tbilisi, is responsible for 75% of the country’s production and is an essential visit for wine lovers. Organised tours are becoming increasingly common here, but many vineyards and wineries are also open to independent visitors with wine tasting often accompanied by traditional Georgian food platters and always by the generous hospitality for which the country is well-known.
Despite its small size Georgia offers an incredible variety of experiences for the visitor. From a city break in the elegant, culture-rich capital of Tbilisi, to hiking in the magnificent Caucasus mountains; a beach stay on the Black Sea coast to wine-tasting in the Kakheti region, whether you’re looking for adventure or longing for relaxation, Georgia is sure to hit the spot!
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