Satali and Caviar
New Year’s feasts in Georgia usually incorporate the lavishness of high quality fish dishes. Some of the best options would include Satali – a cured and smoked sturgeon as well as the black and red caviar. Satali is considered a delicacy, but if it is hard to grab during the holiday season, the New Year’s supra (the traditional feast) can be garnished with a cured red salmon as well. Satali, salmon and caviar are also among those few dishes that pair best with Georgian sparkling wine. This delicious morsels of food certainly give a celebratory touch to this aperiitif.
Wine: Brut sparkling wines made from Tsitska and from other Georgian varietals, also still whites, Chinuri, Manavi PDO (Mtsvane Kakhuri), Tsinandali PDO (Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane Kakhuri).
Prasis Mkhali – Leek Chard With Spices
A New Year’s supra is elaborate and filled with breakfast meals and Mkhali side dishes. Mkhali is a leaves and vegetable “puree” to which various herbs like Utskho Suneli (popular Georgian spice), French marigold, dry coriander, garlic, onion, vinegar and ground walnuts are added. There are plenty of options to choose from: Roasted eggplant with walnut filling, also so-called Tsiteli Mkhali made from spinach and beet leaves. Festive supras also include bell peppers with walnut filling or leek Mkhali, which is garnished with pomegranate and shaped in the form of a nest. In Kakheti, the filling of Nigvziani Badrijani (Eggplants stuffed with walnuts) often incorporates cooked onions. The fresh herbs that are used for these dishes include coriander, parsley, basil and celery leaves.
Wine: Only a few wines pair well with Mkhali as it is usually well-seasoned and filled with ground walnuts. The wines that work with these dishes include Imeretian styles that are full-bodied and highly acidic such as Tsolikouri, also aromatic and relatively lighter examples of Kakhetian qvevri amber wines such as Kisi.
The New Year’s feast menu also includes boiled pig meat that is served cold. In early times, a boiled suckling pig was one of the components of winter holiday festive meals, which is quite as delicious as suckling pig dish. Boiling the meat is not difficult at all. It is usually cooked in hot and salted water and served with a horseradish or walnut sauce. The most important thing is to choose the right type of meat: it should be neither fatty nor too lean. The best type of meat for this dish would be the one that is “parti-colored” and has streaks of fat among the lean meat.
Wine: The best light red wines – Tavkveri, Dzelshavi, Ojaleshi, Aladasturi, some Saperavi examples as well as Kakhetian qvevri amber wines.
Labaskhmuli (Jelly Meat)
Labaskhmuli is cooked in almost every Georgian family for New Year’s feast. The main ingredients of this dish include pig's heads and legs that are boiled together. Various seasonings are also used such as laurel leaves, allspice, cloves and other spices. Preparing Labaskhmuli dish requires skillfull hands and a good amount of time. The meat is simmered for several hours. The cooked meat is then cut into bite-sized pieces and mixed with its broth that is pre-seasoned. Next, it is placed in the tray where the dish is to be cooled. It is usually served with mustard or a horseradish sauce. Labaskhmuli can also be made from fish, beef or poultry meat.
Wine: It goes well with relatively light examples of Kakhetian qvevri amber wines (Kisi, Khikhvi, Rkatsiteli), also with light red wines such as Tavkveri, Dzelshavi, etc.
There are various kinds of Khachapuri in Georgia. Different regions of the country have their own type of khachapuri that is made according to the region’s traditional methods. Imeretian and Megrelian Khachapuris are the most popular ones. In the Adjara region, Khachapuri is made from layers of cheese and pre-cooked dough, also known as achma, and is baked in the oven. Achma is an essential part of New Year’s meals. In Meskheti region, puff pastry is used for making Khachapuri, which is then baked in Purne (a bottomless bakery made of clay that is dug deep into the ground). Kachapuri should be served hot.
Wine: Khachapuri is an universal dish and pairs well with a wide range of white wines: In Imereti – Tsitska, Tsolikouri, Krakhuna. In Guria and Adjara – Chkhaveri (white or rosé) and Tsolikouri. In Racha – Tsulukidzis Tetra and Tsolikouri. In Samegrelo – Tsolikouri. In Kartli – Chinuri and Goruli Mtsvane. In Kakheti – a classic style of Mtsvane Kakhuri and Rkatsiteli. Rosé wines go particularly well with Khachapuri as well.
Indauris Satsivi – Turkey with Walnut Sauce
Satsivi is the most essential part of a New Year’s supra. It is usually made from turkey. In some cases, chicken is also used for making Satsivi and it is quite popular. A turkey is first boiled in a stockpot and then roasted in the oven. Next a good amount of grounded walnuts is seasoned with garlic, cooked onions and spices such as cinnamon, dry coriander, French marigold and Utskho Suneli, which is then mixed with the turkey stock and simmered along with turkey meat that has been cut into small pieces. Satsivi is usually served cold with a hot Ghomi dish (Georgian type of Polenta). This dish has a very delicate structure and refined aromas.
Wine: Only Kakhetian qvevri amber wines go well with Satsivi – Rkatsiteli, Kisi, Khikhvi and other varietals. Chinuri or Tsolikouri wines that have been fermented and macerated on skins for 6 months are also delicious with a Satsivi dish.
Roasted piglet is a New Year’s traditional dish in western Georgia. Indeed, it is quite common in western part of the country as well. There are several piglet roasting methods: spit roasts, oven or Tohne (a bottomless bakery made of clay that is dug deep into the ground) roasts. In some cases, a piglet is seasoned with red adjika (hot red pepper salsa) to give it more flavors and a brown color. A Roasted piglet stuffed with Kuchmachi (a Georgian gizzard and liver filling) is one of the best options to enjoy. A well-prepared roasted piglet has a crisp, crunchy skin and tender meat. It goes ideally with Tkemali (sour plum sauce) or Megrelian tomato sauce.
Wine: It would be fair to say that Georgian light red wines are ideal for a roasted piglet dish. Aladasturi, Ojaleshi and Dzelshavi wines go particularly well with it in addition to Tavkveri and relatively delicate styles of Saperavi.
Tolma – Stuffed Grape Leaves
Stuffed grape leaves known as “Tolma” in Georgia, is often prepared for a New Year’s supra in many Georgian families. It is made with ground pork and beef that are seasoned with garlic, onions, cumin seeds, salt and pepper and wrapped in parboiled, marinated or preserved grape leaves. Tolma is usually served with garlic yogurt (Matsoni) sauce. In Kakheti, Matsoni (a type of sour yogurt) is often seasoned with cinnamon. In Adjara, grape leaves are replaced by Kejera (type of cabbage) leaves. This gives the dish a lighter, more delicate texture. Another classic type of tolma, also quite popular, is made from cabbage leaves.
Wine: Kakhetian qvevri amber wines as well as ligh red wines, including Saperavi, go best with this type of dish.
Mstvadi – Skewered Pork or Veal
Pork Mtsvadi is common mostly in the eastern part of Georgia, wheareas veal Mtsvadi is more typical of western Georgia. These simple dishes are not necessarily as festive as Satsivi or Gozinakhi (walnut and honey crunch). Still, they are essential parts of a New’ Year’s supra. Moreover, these meals go best with heavy, full-bodied Georgian red wines that are high in tannins. Mtsvadi is made from high quality, tender meat that has a moderate amount of fat. It is especially important to roast mtsvadi on an open fire, on hot coals. It is usually grilled to perfection over a grape vine wood fire.
Wine: It pairs ideally with Kakhetian qvevri style Saperavi, Shavkapito wine from Kartli, Aleksandrouli from Racha or Imeretian Otskhanuri Sapere. It also goes well with Mukuzani PDO, Kvareli PDO and Napareui PDO wines.
Jigris Kaurma is the most popular Georgian dish made with subproducts. Jigari means liver, lung, heart etc. Finely chopped cow’s or pig’s heart and liver along with an apiploon are cooked in wine and then seasoned with onion, cilantro, Utskho Suneli and savory, to which a tomato sauce is also added. Jigris Kaurma should be neither too juicy nor too dry. This fatty and extremely rich dish is a wonderful component of winter holiday festive meals.
Wine: Young, full-bodied Saperavi wines that are high in tannins, either qvevri or classic styles. Also Mukuzani PDO, Kvareli PDO, and Napareuli PDO. It also pairs nicely with heavy Georgian reds such as Shavkapito, Aleksandrouli and Otskhanuri Sapere. One can also try it with Chacha (Georgian pomace vodka).
Gozinaki – Walnut and Honey Confection
Gozinaki is a traditional Georgian confection that is made only once a year and served exclusively on New Year’s Eve and Christmas. It is a must during winter holiday feasts. High quality white walnuts are best for making Gozinaki. Finely chopped walnuts are fried in pre-boiled honey for several minutes. Then the mixture is spread onto a moistened wooden board and cut into small pieces while it’s still hot and soft. This type of confection is made from almonds and hazelnuts as well. The nuts should be slightly pan-roasted so that the skins are removed from them. The best version of Gozinaki is amber in color, crunchy and full of intensive honey flavor.
Wine: Late harvest Georgian sweet wines or ice wines are ideal for Gozinaki as well as Kardanakhi PDO (fortified sweet amber wine). It can also be served with a young Georgian brandy.
Churchkhela is the second most popular confection after Gozinaki that is served at New Year’s feasts. It is usually made in fall when grapes are harvested. Churchkhela is made from grape juice and walnuts. It can be made from hazelnut or dry fruit as well. A grape juice is brought to a boil and then the juice is reduced over low heat for about 3 hours. The flour is also added to the grape juice and is returned to a boil. The resulting mixture is called Tatara. Then walnuts on a thread are dipped into the mixture and hung to dry. The best quality Churchkhelas develop a thin layer of powdery sugar and don’t harden over time.
Wine: Chacha (Georgian pomace vodka) as well as semi-sweet Saperavi wines pair well with Churchkhela (Kindzmarauli PDO, Akhasheni PDO). It can also be served with a Georgian brandy.
Like Churchkhela, Pelamushi is made from condensed grape juice (badagi). However, it does not require as much boiling as Churchkhela does. Pelamushi is more common in western Georgia. Grape juice is brought to a boil and mixed with the corn flour. Hazelnuts on a thread are then dipped into the mixture. The most common Pelamushi is made from Tsolikouri grape juice and garnished with walnuts. Compared to Tatara, Pelamushi is less sweet. It is also made from Izabela grape juice.
Wine: Some types of Pelamushi pair well with Tvishi PDO (Tsolikouri), also with semi-sweet Usakhelouri, Ojaleshi, Khvanchkara PDO (a blend of Aleksandrouli and Mujuretuli) and Chacha.
A basket full of dried fruits is served at a New Year’s supra throughout Georgia. This is an old tradition, which dates back to the time when drying fruits was a form of food preservation. Desserts like dried fruits and honey were of special importance for Georgian families because they symbolized well-being and prosperity for the coming year. A basket served today at the New Year’s feast includes dried persimmons, figs, plums and apples. In southern Georgia dried mulberries are also quite common.
Wine: Dried fruits pair best with amber, sweet fortified wines such as Kardanakhi PDO, also with fortified and semi-sweet Saperavi. One can pair this type of dessert with Chacha and Georgian brandy as well.
Authors: Keti Adeishvili, Malkhaz Kharbedia
Images: Keti adeishvili
Design: Tamaz Chkhaidze
© Georgian Wine Club, National Wine Agency, Wine Information Center