Saturday, April 11, 2020

Drink Ancient Saperavi and Eat Modern Family Meals from Chinese Takeouts #WinePW

Nicole from Somm’sTable has invited the #WinePW bloggers to explore wines of the ancient world in the month of April. I recently tasted some dry Sapevari wines from Georgia where 8000 years old Qvevri wine vessels were uncovered and the Qvevri process is still deployed for winemaking nowadays. The dry Sapevaris may come across as a “steak” wine as it is inky, tannic, full-bodied and high in acidity. However, I found it charmingly compatible with Chinese takeout foods that are common meals of modern families.
Qvevri wine vessels (photo credit:
Georgia is considered as one of the ancient countries of the world with uninterrupted tradition of viticulture and winemaking dating back to 8000 years ago. Qvevri was the first vessel ever to be used in winemaking back then. What are Qvevri vessels? These are the egg-shaped clay vessels for wine fermentation. The ones that were uncovered during different archaeological excavations in the south of Tbilisi, current capital of Georgia had tartaric acid sediments from wine and resin of domestic grapes on the fragments of these earthenware vessels, evidencing the ancient winemaking history of Georgia. Check out the UNESCO video to learn more.

Nearly ten wine regions are in Georgia. Kakheti, which is located in the eastern part of the country and bordered with Russia and Azerbaijian, is the dominant wine region that consists of the country's 60-70% of the vineyards that still practice the ancient viticulture-winemaking. The climate of Kakheti is moderate and a bit tropical, with hot summers and mild winters. Straddling both sides of the Alazani River, the soils are of brown damp forest, and have carbonated humus and alluvia.
Georgia wine map (Photo credit: winesgeorgia,.com)

While it's common to use Qvevri vessels for winemaking in Georgia, Kakheti has its own traditional Qvevri wine production process. It starts with pressing grapes in a Satsnakheli (wine press) and pouring the grape must in the Qvevri. After pressing, the whole amount of “chacha” (grape skins, stalks, pulp and pips) is added to “tkbili” (juice) into the Qvevri vessels and for about 10 days, with a stir in the Qvevari for four times per day. The fermentation starts in the Qvevri and can last up to 40 days. After the alcoholic fermentation, the chacha sinks to the bottom and the Qvevri are closed hermetically for the malolactic fermentation. In March or early April, the first racking occurs and after that the wine is aged for about a year before releases.
Sapevari is a Teinturier grape with red skin and red flesh (photo credit:

Sapevari is an indigenous red grape in Georgia that’s the counterstone wine of the country. Sapevari is a Teinturier grape that has red skin and red flesh (vs other red grapes have red skin but clear flesh), giving drinkers an extra purple tongue! Sapevari is widely grown in Kakheti and other part of wine regions in Georgia and is widely produced using the traditional Qvevri process as well as other modernized methods like stainless steel tanks or oak barrels for diversity. Sapevari can be semi-sweet. But my favorite is the high-quality dry ones that have exceptional ageing potential. imports also Mukuzani and Kindzmarauli, other highly sought after Georgian wines to the US
The SapevariPremium Vinobiza is a dry Sapevari that is fresh blackberry on the nose. The notes of chocolate and vanilla mingle nicely with velvety tannins. It’s deep and dark but not harsh, ending the wine with a long finish. This wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, filtered and aged in French oak for four to six months.
Qimerioni focuses not only on Sapevari but also Usakhelauri, Rhaktsiteli, Kisi, Mtsvane, all Georgian native grapes 

The Qimerioni Sapevari is a dry Sapevari. It has appealing scents of blackberry and zippy acidity on the palate. While there are subtle earthy, woody and medicinal notes that provide complexity to the wine, the mouthfeel of the wine is somewhat soft and extremely friendly.

I can’t never disregard my family’s indifference toward the home-made Chinese food I cook…no matter how closely I replicate the Chinese takeout foods at home, it’s never the same as the lemon chicken, pork fried rice or shrimp lo mein that are coming out from those white Chinese takeout box…the excitement and how quickly they finish the food tell the true story.
While the fried chicken nuggets are a no brainer with the Sapevari, Sichuan chicken, fried rice and shrimp lo mein are great too! 

Why do Chinese takeout foods go well with the dry Sapevari? I think the match maker is the savory soya sauce that’s used widely in these takeout foods. The regular or the dark soya sauce have an undertone of umami taste – the foundation of tasty savoy foods.  The dry Sapevari, a juicy and earthy wine, inherently matches savory foods and enhances the umani tastes. I think I don’t need to do more convincing that I already did…think and drink Sapevari as a daily wine for your modern daily meals like Chinese takeout food. You won’t be disappointed for sure!

Disclaimer: the wines are samples. Opinions are my own.

Check out the #WinePW bloggers’ journeys of wines from the ancient world below: