Where to Drink Georgian Wine in America
Georgian wine is basking in newfound fame—an ironic twist for the world’s oldest wine producing nation. The country boasts the longest consistent winemaking history on record (over 8,000 vintages!)—though it hasn’t been an easy eight millenia. Ravaged by numerous civil wars, Russian occupation, and invasions from neighboring nations, Georgia has persisted, thriving on its culture of feasts, family value, and of course, ever-flowing amounts of wine.
Traditionally, the classic way of producing Georgian wine involves the country’s signature qvevri, earth-sunken clay vessels used for fermentation and elevage. Though with the decrease in qvevri producers, as well as evolving consumer palate preference, a handful of winemakers have moved to more modern wine-producing techniques, ripping out indigenous vines for better known, international varieties; thankfully, a crusade of classic, qvevri-favoring purists still exists.
Whether amber colored skin-contact wines pique your interest, or a Merlot-based Saperavi blend sounds more your style, Georgian wine has something for every palate—and America is interested. Here are some of the United States' best spots for drinking Georgian, right now.
Oda House, New York City
Co-managed by Executive Chef Maia Acquaviva, Oda House is situated in Manhattan’s East Village, and serves up authentic Georgian cuisine alongside a handful of traditional Georgian wines. Acquaviva moved to the United States in 2007—a former plastic surgeon, she re-discovered her love of cooking shortly after her move, and decided to enroll in culinary courses in New York. Boasting an exclusively Georgian list, Oda House is hands-down one of the best places to eat and drink Georgian in New York.
Oda House, 76 Avenue B, 212-353-3838
Supra, Washington D.C.
Aptly named for the Georgian word for traditional feasts involving abundant wine, food, and poetic toasts, Supra is found in the heart of downtown Washington D.C., proudly boasting all of the above in its repertoire. Executive Chef Malkhaz Maisashvili, formerly the executive chef at the Embassy of Georgia, serves up a mixture of traditional dishes and reinvented classics, paired with an all-Georgian wine list. From sparkling to rosé, red to white, qvevri ferments to modern winemaking techniques, Supra presents one of the most diverse Georgian wine lists in America, including a ‘Mini-Supra’ Happy Hour daily, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.—an ideal setup for Georgian wine novices looking to get acquainted with the juice while snacking on an array of Georgian bites.
Supra, 1205 11th St. NW, 202-789-1205
À Côté, Oakland
Found in Oakland’s Rockridge district, À Côté specializes in small, Mediterranean inspired plates, served up at large communal tables, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. However, here, the emphasis is on the wines, over 40 of which are poured by the glass. À Côté’s wine list boasts and entire Georgian red section, with half-glass, full glass, and bottle options available. For those looking to delve into the world of Saperavi, with minimal need for bottle commitment, this unique, California-based wine list is exactly what you’re looking for.
À Côté, 5478 College Ave., 510-655-6469
Founded in 2016, Boston based haley.henry is a wine lover’s paradise. Located in the heart of Downtown Crossing, this chic and intimate setting offers a variety of light bites, from tinned fish, to crudo, to cheese and charcuterie boards, served alongside a handful of Georgian options, including three different Rkatsiteli bottlings, a varietal Tsolikouri, and Chubini Wine Cellar’s Saperavi. Although none of their current Georgian selections are served by the glass, haley.henry will open any bottle of wine from the cellar, so long as the customer agrees to half of the bottle, for half of the price, placing the then-remaining two glasses by the glass for future imbibers. Sounds pretty fair us.
haley.henry, 45 Province St., 617-208-6000
Seasonal food and natural wine is the name of the game at Dame, located in northeast Portland. New American inspired snacks, including a vegetable-heavy menu, paired alongside a global natural wine list, makes this spot an absolute must for those looking to tour the world of natural wine, including a few Georgian options; varietal Chinuri, amber Rkatsiteli, and a skin-contact Tsolikouri-Tsitska blend from Imereti, available by the half or full glass, are some of Dame’s highlights.
Dame, 2930 NE Killingsworth St., 503-227-2669
The Ten Bells, New York City
One of the early pioneers of the natural wine movement, New York City’s The Ten Bells has been a consistent force behind supporting Georgian wines abroad. Founded by three employees of the Lower East Side’s former Le Pere Pinard, the mission of good food and great wine rings true across the joint’s entire wine list, including its Georgian offerings. Currently, five whites, including varietal Kisi, Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Tsitska, and Tsolikouri, along with one bottle of Saperavi, are offered by the bottle, produced by three of Georgia’s most renowned natural winemakers, John Wurdeman (Pheasant’s Tears), John Okro, and Ramaz Nikoladze—Georgia’s ‘Gang of Three,’ anyone?
The Ten Bells, 247 Broome St., 212-228-4450
Compass Rose, Washington D.C.
Known for their international street/market-inspired food, global wine selection, and cozy, brick-walled interior, Compass Rose is the ideal place to visit when you and your buddies can’t agree on a food selection—but the shared desire for Georgian wine is real. From Spanish street potatoes, to Tunisian chickens skewers, to Georgian Khachapuri, there’s most certainly a snack on the list for everyone. And to drink Georgian? How does four amber wines, two reds, a white, a sparkling, and a rosé, all crafted in Georgia, all served by the glass, sound? We’ll take one of each.
Compass Rose, 1346 T St. NW, 202-506-4765
Bisl Food, Bozeman
After working together at Portland’s Departure, chefs Davey and Kierst Rabinowitz fell in love and opened their own spot back in Bozeman, Montana, seeking to create a refined, relaxed ambiance focused on good food and great wine. Dishes are prepared with regional ingredients, paired with an array of all-natural wines from both New and Old World regions—including three Georgian options. Two skin contact bottles, plus a varietal Saperavi, are staples on the list, served up in this warm, tapas-style dining space. Seasonal pastas, tempura onion, and steamed chard dumplings are just a few of their many wine-friendly plates, pairing gorgeously with Vinoterra’s skin contact Mtsvane.
Bisl Food, 33 W. Main, 406-586-5228
Bar Norman, Portland, OR
After much anticipation, newly opened Bar Norman, located in Southeast Portland, has been attracting a slew of locals every night since its opening debut, holding limited hours from just 4 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday. Founded by outspoken natural wine supporter Dana Frank, Bar Norman only offers wines by the glass, zero by bottle, paired with an array of tinned fish, charcuterie boards, and various small snacks. With 20 to 25 unique pours served by the glass at all times, a “fairly large” selection of which are generally Georgian, says Frank, though selections rotate frequently. We wouldn’t worry too much.
Bar Norman, 2615 SE Clinton St., 971-229-0290
Racines, New York City
With outlets in both Paris and New York City, this part-fine-dining, part wine bistro feel combines seasonal ingredients and an extensive natural wine list, spearheaded by owner-sommelier Arnaud Tronche and partner-sommelier, Pascaline Lepeltier, MS. The overflowing, 64-page wine list boasts numerous Georgian options, including four bottles of white (both skin contact and no skin contact), as well as two bottles of red from Archil Guniava and John Okro. Grab a bottle and pair along with the ever-changing a la carte menu, or spring for the tasting menu, should you fancy a slight splurge.
Racines, 94 Chambers St., 212-227-3400