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Sipping on Chacha: Georgias Grape Pomace Brandy

Sipping on Chacha: Georgias Grape Pomace Brandy

What is Chacha?

Chacha is a grape pomace brandy that originated in the country of Georgia. It is made by distilling fermented grape pomace, which refers to the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems left over after making wine.

Chacha production relies on the abundance of grapes grown in Georgia for winemaking. The leftover grape pomace contains sugars and juices that can be fermented into alcohol. Distilling this wash produces a brandy with the fruity flavors of the grapes used.

Chacha is sometimes referred to as the “Georgian vodka” and considered Georgia’s national drink. It plays a significant role in Georgian culture and hospitality. Many families in rural areas produce their own homemade chacha.

History and Production of Chacha

The history of chacha dates back centuries in Georgia. Archaeological evidence suggests grape pomace distillation was practiced as early as the 8th century AD.

Commercial chacha production began in the late 19th century during the Russian Empire. Demand for chacha grew significantly during the Soviet era between the 1920s to 1980s.

Today, chacha remains a popular alcoholic drink in Georgia. Both homemade and commercially produced chachas are easily found.

Chacha production involves:

  • Collecting grape pomace from wine production
  • Fermenting the grape pomace to convert sugars into alcohol
  • Distilling the fermented pomace in a copper pot still
  • Diluting the distillate with mineral water
  • Aging for a minimum of 1 year in oak barrels

Higher quality chachas are distilled in traditional copper alembics and aged for many years. Minimum alcohol content is 40% ABV.

Taste, Aroma and Drinking Chacha

Chacha has a strong, fruity taste and bold alcohol flavor. Young chachas are vibrant and fresh, with dominant grape notes. Aged chachas develop more complex aromas like honey and nuts.

Traditionally, chacha is served room temperature in small 100ml glasses called piala. It is often drunk neat without ice or mixers.

Chacha is commonly paired with traditional Georgian dishes like khachapuri (cheese bread), pkhali (vegetable spreads), and khinkali (dumplings).

Drinking chacha plays an integral role in Georgian hospitality. Guests are greeted with a shot of chacha and frequent celebratory toasts called gelo.

However, chacha should be consumed in moderation due to its high alcohol strength. It is meant to be sipped and savored rather than drunk excessively.

Key Takeaways on Chacha

  • Chacha is a Georgian grape pomace brandy with a long history dating back centuries
  • It is distilled from fermented grape skins, pulp, seeds and stems leftover from winemaking
  • Both homemade and commercial chachas are widely consumed in Georgia as a national drink
  • Chacha has a strong fruity taste and high alcohol percentage
  • It is traditionally served neat at room temperature in small glasses for celebratory toasts
  • Although a key part of hospitality, chacha should be sipped slowly and not overconsumed

So next time you're in Georgia, be sure to try this iconic brandy and sip on a piece of delicious history!

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