"I had only heard stories about the famous Georgian supra - the traditional feast offered spontaneously to only the luckiest of visitors."
"Do you want to try Stalin's favourite wine?" asked my Georgian friend Nino.
After a three-day hiking trip in Georgia's stunning northwestern region of Racha, my two travelling companions and I were excited by the bizarre offer.
Produced since the beginning of the 20th Century, the grapes for the semi-sweet red wine called khvanchkara - reportedly Stalin's wine of choice - are only grown in one very small area of the Racha region, also called Khvanchkara.
Upon our arrival at the Aleksandrouli winery, Nino's friend Dato led us on a brief tour of its stainless steel fermentation vats, the modern counterpart to the nation's still-used ancient tradition of underground fermentation in kvevris (large clay vessels).
We ambled about the warehouse, admiring the sexy, Italian-designed bottles of khvanchkara, and tried the wine, which tasted a bit like raspberry syrup. Dato stood smoking a cigarette, looking out at the low vine-covered hills behind us.
"Follow me," Dato said suddenly. "I would like to invite you to eat with us."
I had only heard stories about the famous Georgian supra, the traditional feast offered spontaneously to only the luckiest of visitors.
I'd been told that the incredibly generous villagers ply guests with local dishes and endless pours of strong, homemade wine, accompanied by countless long, nostalgic and heartfelt toasts.
I couldn't believe that we might get the chance to attend.
As we drove to a nearby small restaurant, Dato called ahead to let them know we were coming.
My stomach growled and we all grinned widely at each other in giddy anticipation.
It was 3 pm when we arrived. Dato's friend, Mamuka, was waiting in the parking lot, and there were no other customers in the dim restaurant space.
Read the full article here