If you already grabbed the chance to taste Georgian wine, now it’s time for the fiery and high-alcoholic drink Chacha (Georgian vodka) which pairs so nicely with Georgian dishes and the chilly winter. Chacha is a grape brand with exclusive, true Georgian roots and all qualities to keep it deservedly beside the famous Spanish Mojito and Italian Grappa.
You might be offered Chacha at Georgian feasts, but be careful, as its drinking requires a special awareness. First of all, you should make a little inquiry about its origins. If it comes from the Georgian highlands, be extra cautious because one too many and you’ll forget all the fun you had at the feast! Kakhetian Chacha can make you drunk slowly, Chacha from Guria can provoke a high-spirited mood, while their Megrelian ‘colleague’ is good at making people lose balance fast.
Georgian Chacha is as versatile in its taste characteristics and making technologies as Georgian wine. It is an extremely popular drink here and the honored representative of Georgian gastronomic culture.
The history of homemade Chacha dates back to the XIX century, but its modern history of bottling counts only approximately twenty years. You can purchase bottled Chacha in wine boutiques, shops and supermarkets; it is also exported, but is less popular internationally than it is in post-soviet countries.
Unfortunately, in the gloomy 1990s, Chacha gained a bad reputation and became associated with low-quality vodka, sold in numerous ugly-looking kiosks without control.
But years have passed and solid Georgian wine companies have transformed that low-quality wine into spirits and bottled Chacha in attractive vessels. Consequently, the quality of this drink has much improved and it has become popular on the market once more.
Chacha is a real beauty of Georgian restaurants today and pairs well with various gastronomic delights. Georgian experts also dispute one thing: that it’s better to make Chacha not from wine, but from ‘Chacha’ – the pomace left after making wine. The real Chacha made from these remains has a true Georgian refi ned taste and, according to those experts, the most in-demand version is Chacha made from Saperavi.
In Georgian villages, Chacha was not used as a drink, but as a curative remedy. This tradition is still kept in many families where one can notice a delicately preserved bottle for treating wounds, stings, tooth ache or intoxication.
Unfortunately, the majority of traditional Chacha distilling methods is lost, but I will try shortly to explain its making process: Chacha is often made at home in a mini still and, to most Georgians, chacha is ‘vine vodka’ made by double distilling fermented pomace and the last fraction on the wine pressing. Chacha is often kept in a clay vessel ‘Qvevri’ for aging for several months. At somewhere between 45-60 per cent alcohol by volume, chacha is incredibly potent and, for more aroma, people sometimes add tarragon or honey it.
Georgian Chacha is often associated with Kakhetian vodka still ‘Zaodi,’ a stone building, used by village inhabitants one after another. This process is almost always concluded with feasts and drinking.
The process of vodka-distilling ‘Zaodoba’ attracts lots of tourists, giving a brilliant chance to taste ‘newly born’ Chacha and join traditional and vivacious Georgian feasts