While this list isn’t exhaustive, below we have listed some of our favorite Georgian foods and wines. Soon we include other tasty Georgian dishes, as well as some of the best Georgian salads and cheeses. Until then, stay tuned and enjoy!
It goes without saying that khachapuri is one of the most popular and visible aspects of Georgian cuisine. Khachapuri is a cheese-filled bread served in various shapes and sizes, including round, square and boat-shaped (Acharuli). The two most common varieties are Imeretian Khachapuri, which is shaped in a circle, and the famous mega-calorie laden Acharuli Khachapuri, which is shaped like a boat, and filled with cheese, pats of butter and an egg. Khachapuri is standard fare throughout the country, and can be found in restaurants, in homes and in street-side kiosks. Fresh, home-cooked khachapuri is by far the best.
Georgian khinkali may (or may not) be solely a Georgian creation, as there are also similar dumpling-like dishes like that are similar. These include Pierogis (Poland), Xiao Long Bao (China), and Pilmeni (Russia), to name just a few. However, khinkali is without a doubt one of the most revered dishes in Georgia. Khinkali is a very simple, ornately folded, dumpling-like dish filled with spiced meats. In Georgia, it is considered bad form to eat khinkali with utensils. As such, it is expected that you leave your fork and knife on the table when eating khinkali, and instead eat the dumpling with your hands. It can be a messy affair if you are not careful. Just ask a local to show you the technique. They will proudly show you the right way to eat it. Note: khinkali goes great with a cold beer (any beer)!
Kharcho is a traditional Georgian beef soup, cooked with walnuts, rice, and cherry plum puree, and served with chopped coriander, a spice that Georgians love to use in their cooking. Other meats can be substituted in place of beef, such as lamb, pork, or even chicken. Depending on the region the kharcho is prepared in, the seasoning and spiciness can change. Because of the soup’s hearty nature, kharcho is an excellent soup to try during the cold months of the year.
In Georgian, lobio simply means “beans.” But this fruit (yes beans are a fruit) plays an important role in Georgian cuisine. Of the several varieties of lobio, one of the most popular is the cold dish called Lobio Nigvzit, in which the beans are mashed and mixed with garlic, walnuts, onions, and coriander. Hot varieties are typically seasoned and served in an earthenware pot. My personal favorite is the regular lobio served in an the pot, and accompanied with shotis puri (delicious Georgian bread).
Originating in the Racha region of Georgia, this is one of this author’s favorite dishes. Imagine pieces of whole chicken cooked golden brown, and then marinated in a delicious sauce consisting of garlic and milk. Sour cream can be added for more flavor. It is advisable to order this dish at an upscale Georgian restaurant.
Georgia is the undisputed birthplace of wine. With hundreds of indigenous grape varietals, the various types of wine on offer in Georgia seem limitless. However, a good place to start is with the saperavi red (preferably dry). Saperavi is a staple of the Georgian table, and has been produced in the country since 1886. For those who prefer a white, try the Tsinandali, a light, fruity wine that makes for perfect sipping on a hot summer’s day. There is virtually no limit to the number of Georgian wines being produced in the country. Try the kvevri wines (traditional winemaking technique), and try the wines from the smaller, lesser-known wine producers too.
Most of all, enjoy your stay in Georgia!