101 Ways to Drink Wine

Gamarjoba readers!

This last weekend, me and a few friends went to Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia and about an hours marshrutka ride away from Chokhatauri.
We didn’t have much of a plan, except to get out of our respective villages for a few days and see what the city closest to us had to offer.

Which included my first familiar eatery, good old Mickey D’s. Don’t judge me!

A couple of veteran English teachers suggested we stay at a guesthouse called Suliko’s, run by a cute Georgian couple who for a very decent price included breakfast, dinner, and wine.  Oh, so much wine.

We arrived in Kutaisi around 6:30 pm and were immediately sent to the dinner table and handed a horn of wine. In Georgia, drinking horns are a very traditional way of drinking wine, but the trick is, you have to sort of chug it because there is no possible way to set the horn down until it is empty.

I was given a smaller horn, front and center, but it was refilled several times.

Suliko, who turned 68 during our stay, then proceeded to bring out numerous other contraptions for us to drink from: a bowl, a ceramic shoe, a glass bell that was to be rung upon completion to prove that you finished it, something made out of clay and shaped like a honeypot, and of course our normal glasses were constantly being topped off.  Suliko’s wife, Mediko, also provided us with an amazing feast of a dinner so that we were at least cushioning the intake of all of that wine. Then, Suliko proceeded to show us drinking tricks! He’d drink wine from his palm with the glass suctioned on upside down, he’d go into a full split and drink wine from a jar on the floor, he’d drink wine from two glasses at once!

Suliko performing one of his many drinking tricks.

There is a really strong drinking culture in Georgia, but those who know me know that I don’t often partake, especially not with wine, but there was something about this place and this man that made me want to be a part of it all. However, as you can imagine, it led to a night of poor, restless sleep and a morning of lethargy. After another amazing meal from Mediko, we rustled up a plan to go to Satiplia, a national park that includes fossilized dinosaur footprints, natural cave systems, and sweeping views of Kutaisi.

The park was worth the 6 lari (about $4) admission, we even had an English speaking guide through the caves!

Although my surroundings were beautiful at the park, the lack of sleep I had gotten was really starting to wear on me. I was thrilled when the temperature dropped about 20 degrees inside the caves, as I had packed for a weekend of rain that weather.com had falsely accused Kutaisi of providing.

And it was easy on the eyes, too!

However, when it came time to leave, the only taxi at the park tried to charge us 15 lari to get back into Kutaisi (it cost us only 6 to get to the park). I let the boys argue for a bit, but there was no other transportation option and I was exhausted, so we finally settled for 10. When we got into Kutaisi, the driver suddenly started demanding 15 again, and though I know cabbies like to scam foreigners, this was the first time the previously agreed upon price had been questioned here in Georgia. An argument ensued, the driver attempted to spit on my friend, and eventually we just threw the 10 at him and walked away. He thankfully did not follow us.

At this point, my body was starting to reject the mere idea of standing or walking, and I made my way back to the hostel, exhausted by the cab scam. After a pickpocket attempt by a 4 year old Roma girl, I had had it. I went and watched “The Campaign” on the hostel’s free wifi and went to bed early.

This view was worth the taxi argument, but I was still happy to rest.

On Sunday, we woke a bit earlier, in higher spirits, and after a quick shopping expedition, went to McDonald’s for a familiar meal before catching a marshrutka back to Chokhatauri. I think my friend said it best when he said: “It was a great trip, but it would have only been a good trip had we not stayed at Suliko’s.” Suliko’s is what made it a great weekend. Even on Saturday, when I opted out of the wine drinking, I had a good dinner with my old friends, and some new Japanese/Chinese/Georgian/TLG friends that I made at the guesthouse.

There are many many more things to do in Kutaisi, and I am sure I will be back to visit the churches, the American library, and of course, Suliko’s!

Nakh Vamdis!

Kacie Riann


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  1. Dad

     /  November 15, 2012

    Enjoyed this post. I think I’d enjoy meeting Suliko. Also, glad you were able to avoid the mini pickpocket!

    • Dad,
      I would definitely take you to Sulikos if you came to Georgia! I will take Jenna too =]
      And Prague definitely prepared me for pickpockets… as in I never carry ANYTHING valuable in my pockets.


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