We're still having technical issues, so this post is by Maggie:
Things I learned at last week's Georgian (the country, not the state) wine tasting event at SAM:
1. Saakashvili is the President. Sarajishvili is the brandy. Georgian brandy is very interesting. It came off more like a brandy/bourbon hybrid to me, very prevalent oak influence, lots of nutty, vanilla overtones. (Not available in Washington State)
2. Sweet red table wine has no purpose on this Earth. The panel was very keen to share that sweet wine isn't really the M.O. in Georgia, but they make it due to Russian demand. Bummer is, Russia stopped demanding Georgian wine all together two years ago in a complete dick move to try and exercise control over the tiny, Westernizing fast country (mad at Georgia's bid to join NATO).
3. Amphora wines are worth further study. Like a lighter sherry, these wines had an aroma of raw nutmeats and honeycomb, and tasted funky as hell. Somebody put some Washington Semillon in a clay pot and bury it.
4. Georgian white wines are more distinguished at this moment than red. Many of the red Georgian wines reminded me of various versions of syrah, in a good way. But the whites... these wines had some very distinct aromatics and flavor profiles, very appropriate for the vegetable heavy delicacies of the region.
5. SAM's Taste catering crew has range. Chicken skewers, while seemingly foolproof, are fraught with danger on the buffet. Always dry, dry, dry. Not these. And the cauliflower topped grilled eggplant made me think SAM had hired a little old grannie just for the occasion.
6. Buying a bottle of Georgian wine has deep and ranging political implications. Forget the recent troubles in the region, Russia just can't quit Georgia (this is an area where Russians used vacation.) Russia started it by trying to put the big hurt on Georgian exports two years ago. The recent unrest in the country, due to Russia's backing of separatist regions inside the country and a very aggressive President Saakashvili, has left the wine industry in a dire position. Trade depends on ports and supply chains and infrastructure, and the Georgian wine industry desperately needs new markets and support as they further assert their independence from Russia.