Georgia, which is sandwiched between Russia and Turkey, produces a tremendous volume of good white, rose, red, and sparkling wines but these are rarely seen outside of the country.

Some Georgian wines are unlikely to charm Western consumers because of their earthy tones and somewhat tart acidity. This results from the oldfashioned wine-making methods that are still in regular use in which entire bunches of grapes are left and more or less 'forgotten' for a time in earthenware pitchers to ferment. Georgian wines can easily be recognised by the decorative labels with at least six or seven gold medals on them on somewhat ungainly bottles.

White wines are dominated by the two native grapes varieties of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane. Several strange but high quality dry wines are made from these two types of grape. These are Tsinandali, Gurdzhaani, and Vazisubani.

The equally excellent Napareuli wine is made solely from Rkatsiteli, and Manavi uses just Mtsvane. Tsitska, Tsolikauri, and Bakhtrioni are all made from native grape varieties of the same name. These wines and the Manavi and Vazisubani previously mentioned are all firm, fruity, and harmonious wines. Tsinandali, Gurdzhaani, Napareuli, and Manavi are all aged in wooden casks for at least three years.

These wines are not truly fresh but they have marvellous fruitiness and a very elegant nose with a light and mellow fruity taste (by Georgian standards). Those who truly wish to try the authentic and very localised taste of old-fashioned Georgian wines (from earthenware pitchers) should try the Rkatsiteli, Sameba, or Tibaani. The colour of these dry white wines - made from pure Rkatsiteli in the case of the first and from Rkatsiteli and Mtsvani in the case of the others - is between dark yellow and amber. The bouquet is somewhat fruity, suggesting perhaps currants with clear sherry-like undertones. All these three wines are more alcoholic at 12-13% than the other white wines mentioned.

Pull-bodied red wines are made here from Saperavi (Kvareli, Napareuli and Mukuzani) and Cabernet Sauvignon (Teliani). All these wines are cask aged for at least three years. These are not only full-bodied wines, they are also strong in tannin and have moderate levels of alcohol (12-12.5%) and fairly fruity with suggestions of overripe fruit and currants.

Georgia also produces countless dry and sweet white, rose, and red sparkling wines. There are also reasonable to good fortified wines that are naturally sweet, made from grapes such as Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane. The Georgians themselves are not very fussy when it comes to the right wine for the dish being eaten.

 By Western standards the dry wines should be served at 50- 53.6°F (10-12°C), the dry reds at 60.8-62.6°F (16- 17°C), sweet reds at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C), and sparkling wines between 42.8°F (6°C) and 46.4°F (8°C).