13 Common Georgian Wine Varieties, from Inky Reds to Crisp Sparklers

Illustration of Georgian wine grapes
Illustration by Mikel Casal

Are your friends impressed when you recite all the varieties allowed in a bottle of Bordeaux? Then it’s time to up your game and get to know at least a handful of the 500-plus native grapes grown in Georgia.

One of the world’s oldest wine-producing countries, it’s blessed with a wide array of indigenous varieties and a tradition of small-batch, handcrafted wines fermented and aged in clay qvevri for unique textures and flavor profiles. Ahead, 13 of the most common varieties to get you started.

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Reds

Aladasturi is notable for its pale ruby color, delicate tannins, soft body and low alcohol levels.

Aleksandrouli can be used alone or blended and typically creates high-acid wine with flavors of black cherry and raspberry.

Chkhaveri is vinified into a pale red wine with subtle fruit flavors and strong spice notes. It’s also used for semisweet sparkling wine.

Ojaleshi translates to “growing on a tree.” Ojaleshi wines are semisweet with red fruit flavor and peppery notes.

Saperavi is Georgia’s leading red grape variety. Bold and fruity with strong acidity, it can be made into dry or semisweet wine.

Shavkapito means “vine with a black cane.” It produces full-bodied wines with delicate aromatics.

Tavkveri produces a medium-bodied dry red wine, but it can also be found in off-dry or rosé styles.

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Whites

Chinuri means “excellent” or “the best.” It has high acidity and is made into sparkling wine.

Kisi yields straw-colored wines that offer flavors of pear, apricot and green tea.

Mtsvane Kakhuri is used for high-quality dry wine in the Manavi appellation. It also gets blended with Rkasiteli in the wines of Tsinandali.

Rkatsiteli is Georgia’s No. 1 white grape and makes up 43% of white plantings. It’s the main grape in white wines from Kakheti, known for their bright citrus flavors, soft spice and gentle aromatics.

Tsitska has flavors of melon, peach and pear, with notes of honey and high acidity.

Tsolikouri wines are full-bodied with good mouthfeel, strong minerality and a floral lift.

Published on March 2, 2020
Topics: Wine and Ratings