In how many of your high-school classes did the conversation revolve around wine and wine making? If your high-school was anything like mine, probably zero. In my school in Kutaisi, at least four of the lessons in the upper grade levels have discussed wine and wine making. I have learned a great deal about the Georgian wine making process. Another tidbit of new information is that there are many, many different types of grape in Georgia. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out all of their names or sample them.
Kakheti is an eastern region in Georgia and is the reknowned wine producing area. According to the students and teacher, the grape harvest has already begun in Kakheti and it will start in a few days in Imereti (Kutaisi’s region). Despite Kakheti being famous for its wine, all regions of Georgia have the proper climate to produce wine. In fact, so far in my experience, nearly every house in Georgia has grapes growing abundantly over trellises, fences or the house. The families then take these grapes and make their own wine for their own consumption.
Once the grapes are ready for harvest, they are put into a wooden trough with a spigot at the end and stomped on, pretty much like any traditional wine making process. The liquid collected from the spigot then has sugar added, or not, it seems to depend on the family. Once the liquid is ready to ferment it is put into ceramic jugs and either buried in the ground or stored someplace dry and cool.
If discussing the wine making process was not strange enough to the average American, than the teacher asking her 15 year old students if they like wine would seem ludicrous! But this happened as well. Against everything that stereotypes say, many of the students actually said that they dislike wine. What? A Georgian that does not like wine? Yes, it does exist! It is good to see a stereotype broken.
For me, the most amusing part about these discussions was that it is hard for me to imagine a situation where the students will need to know the very specific wine terminology in English. I could be wrong, maybe they will all move to California as wine makers. One never knows.