Georgian wine in Russia: to be or not to be, to drink or not to drink04.02.2013 | 22:01
Georgia and Russia have launched formal negotiations on the restoration of the supply of Georgian wines and other products to the Russian market. This is the first such contacts since 2006, when the export of Georgian wine and mineral water to Russia was banned. What is the current quality of Georgian wine production? After all, the official reason for the closure of the Russian market was the low quality of wine. Have Georgian companies learned a lesson from the bitter experience?
In small wine houses throughout Tbilisi, you can find wines for every taste. Here are bottled white wine "Telavuri" and "Bacchus" for 5 GEL - about $ 3. There are very expensive wines, such as red "Usahelauri" from western Georgia, a bottle of which costs 170 GEL - about $ 100. There is also an average wine - Kakheti wine for around 20-30 GEL per bottle.
But the wine, as they say, is better not to watch at, but to drink. In a small shop at the Cultural Center of Georgian wine, you can buy only the very high quality products. Although the prices here are different, the wine made of rare grape varieties is naturally more expensive. There is even a wine from a monastery cellar located in eastern Georgia. As told by the manager of the Cultural Center of Georgian wine Zurab Glonti, anyone can buy white, red and even pink wine. Substantially all products are manufactured in kvevri - big jugs - observing traditional Georgian technology. But there are wines made by European technology. These wines contain more nutrients and they contribute to the excretion of harmful elements, it is possible to combine pleasant with useful.
- We offer foreign tourists who visit our store mainly the wines from the regions of Kakheti, Kartli, Imereti, Guria", Zurab Glonti told GeorgiaTimes. "These wines are from the cellar of Alaverdi Monastery. We can also offer the products of the company "Badagoni" such as "Rkatsiteli", "Saperavi", "Tvisi". These are high-quality wines. Of course, some of the wines are produced by traditional Georgian technology, some - by the European technology. It all depends on taste. If you're a fan of white wine, I can offer you "Kakheti", "Tsinandali", "1001". We also have wines made from grapes "Khokhbis tsremlebi", as well as production of wine cellars "Kakha Berishvili", "Petriani", "Keravaini", "Dzhakeli" and others. We also sell wine of the companies "Kindzmarauli" and "Chateau Mukhrani".
- What kind of wine would you advise not to buy?
- I can say that today, all of the wines which are sold in the Georgian brand stores are of sufficient quality. Recently, Georgian companies significantly improved the quality of products. The only thing I can advise is not to buy wine at a market where it is sold in large bottles: it is really of questionable quality. Personally, I would not have bought there.
The issue of quality of Georgian wine has become topical in recent time, when Georgia and Russia are negotiating on the possibility of the return of Georgian wine to the Russian market. After all, at one time substandard products have become the main reason of the ban of wine exports from Georgia to Russia. After 2006, almost all Georgian companies began to care about the quality of products and have reequipped the wineries. According to experts, today the quality of Georgian wine has improved significantly. At the same time, the experts find it difficult to say how long it would take Georgian companies to regain its former position in the Russian market.
"I really appreciate the opportunity to return Georgian wine to the Russian market, and I'm very optimistic", economic expert Natia Turnava said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes. "Despite the difficult bilateral relations between Georgia and Russia, business in this case should be separated from politics. The opening of the Russian market benefits our winemakers and agriculture of Georgia. Do you like it or not, the Russian market is very large and promising, and many countries of the world are trying to get into it. Note that in Russia there is a generation of people who well remember our wine and mineral water "Borjomi", so the return to the market will be relatively easier. We must not lose this opportunity", says Turnava.
"Of course, it will be difficult to restore the scale of wine exports existing till 2006, since in this case every lost month is working against us. The place of Georgian wine production has been taken by producers from other countries, so that to recover lost ground we need time and some money. But now the Georgian wine may take a different niche - an elitist, not for the mass market. Indeed, in recent years the quality of Georgian wine has improved significantly. So in this case, the advantage of Georgian wine is not so much in its amount as in its quality", said Natia Turnava.
The Russian market is closed for Georgian wine, mineral water and agricultural products since 2006. After the "Georgian Dream's" coming to power in October, 2012, on of the priorities of the Government of Georgia was called the return to the market of the Russian Federation.