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Our First Georgian Supra

Laursab toasting wine at the supra

We managed to sleep off a rather large lunch and prepare for dinner at Azarpesha in Tbilisi, Georgia. Azarpesha is a wine restaurant and the wines for the evening were made in qvevri. When we arrived we were warmly greeted by Laursab Togonidze who spoke about efforts to increase awareness of qvevri wines and qvevri making. Laursab also spoke of his role as tamada for the evening’s supra.

As the guests arrived we moved to the long table set up for our group. Laursab directed the evening making several toasts. The toasts were short and heart-felt. We toasted God, Georgia, the guests, love, wine, the future, our children and others throughout the four-hour meal. After the toasts Laursab and two other singers sang traditional songs. Their singing was polyphonic. Kathy and I didn’t understand the words. We didn’t have to though. We felt the emotion of the songs and the harmonies were wonderful. I keep wondering if our music ministry group could arrange a polyphonic hymn for the mass I sing at.

The supra was the most welcoming meal that we ever attended. We felt like part of the family. The evening was moving and I, not knowing Georgian customs, asked privately if anyone would be offended if I offered a bottle of the wine that Kathy and I made. Laursab was very pleased that the guests would share a bottle of wine. He liked our name Illuminatus and the fact that the name was chosen because the experience of making the wine at a Virginia winery was very enlightening. I spoke a little about how we made the wine. Laursab picked up on my statement that the wine was like a child. While bottle aging, we had to open a bottle to see how our child was doing. This provided material for another toast and song.

Kathy made a toast and then drank from a silver vessel.

We spoke about the qvevri wines we had with the meals. There are only a few qvevri makers left in Georgia. We toasted the future with the hope that the younger generation will take up the ancient craft of qvevri making. I mentioned a qvevri wine that we had at Kobola Winery in Croatia. I also spoke of a qvevri cider that is made at a cidery in Virginia. Our host was quite interested in a hard cider made in qvevri. We made a note to bring a bottle of qvevri cider on our next visit to Georgia in the spring.

The evening flew by. It had that magical component of wine, food and friends. However, that magic transcended onto another level. The Tamada’s toasts and polyphonic singing added a spiritual awareness. We are beginning to understand the spirituality associated with wine by Georgians.

Upon reflection, the custom of a Georgian Supra is something that should be taught to the world. I may try to do this with family and friends this Thanksgiving while visiting family in Portland, Oregon. Will we have polyphonic singing? I think that I and my two sons could manage a song or two.


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