Review: Georgia – The Home of Wine, by Dato Turashvili

Dato Turashvili is one of Georgia’s best known writers, but unfortunately only a couple of his books are available in English translation. This new book is in both Georgian and English and is a lavishly illustrated love letter to Georgian wine. Turashvili makes a strong case – which not everyone will accept – that Georgia is the birthplace of wine. The country apparently has been making wine for at least 8,000 years, and the evidence that it was the first to do so is not only archaeological but linguistic. In those 8,000 years, the worst period was during the 70-year-long Soviet occupation in the 20th century, when the quality of the wine was radically reduced to meet the needs of the planned economy. According to Turashvili, the best thing that happened to Georgian wine in recent years was the Russian decision in 2006 to ban imports. The result has been a boom for the production of high-quality wines for export to Western markets.