In Georgia wine is fermented and stored in clay pots as part of a wine making tradition that supposedly stretches back to 8,000 BC.
Known as Qvevri (or Kvevri), they are typically built to contain hundreds or thousands of litres of wine. Made of red clay and built in a coil method, they are sealed inside with beeswax. Once ready they are fully buried in the ground and as such are very stable where temperature and moisture are concerned.
Georgian wine is made by pouring grapes into a Qvevri and crushing them. Over a period of days the grape skins are periodically stirred and crushed. Finally the Qvevri is sealed with a stone cap and the wine is left to ferment and mature over a period of a few years. Once the wine is ready it is pumped out and bottled. The Qvevri is sterilised with lime ready to be used again.
Wines produced in Qvevri is said to be stable by nature, rich in tannins and do not require preservatives to ensure longevity. The tannins found in this wine are meant to limit protein content and prevent the production of particulate matter.
The Greeks and Romans also used large earhenware pots for the fermentation and transportation of wine. The Romans had simple amphorae, with a pointed base. Compared to the Georgians however, the Greeks and Romans were comparatively late to the party.
The vast majority of Georgian wine is exported to Russia, but if you’d like to try Qvevri you can buy it in M&S!
Image is “Georgian Kvevri” by Levan Totosashvili – https://www.flickr.com/photos/conversum/4066312418/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.