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Startup: New Wine Brand Named After Ancient Tradition

January 20, 2014 10:59 am - Posted by Jody in Drink

A new wine brand has been launched that combines an old tradition and mystical symbolism. Called Kukeri Wines, its first release is a Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. The brand’s concept, which has directed its striking label design, is to highlight ancient tradition using the original artwork.

The brand is the brainchild of the winemaker Petar Kirilov, a founder of, who wanted to create a label to tell the story of old Thracian tradition.

“Kukeri” is an ancient Bulgarian ritual that may date back as far as 8,000 years to the ancient Thracians – and to Dionysus, the god associated with wine, fertility, and rebirth. It’s performed by men dressed in colorful hand-made costumes, wearing a bold and scary masks as well as large bells (chanove) tied around their waists. The masks symbolize the good and the bad, which co-exist in our world. The Kukers dance around to scare away the evil spirits, to celebrate the beginning of the spring, and to express their wishes for good harvest, good health, land fertility, and happiness.

Petar decided to incorporate into the label design an original artwork crafted by a well-known Bulgarian artist, Anatoly Stankulov.

The Kukeri wine label explodes with rich and vibrant colors, each with a symbolic meaning. Red symbolizes sun, fire and the fertility of nature; Black is the color for Mother Earth; White is the symbol of water and light.

“By developing a brand with a name that combines both old tradition and mystical symbolism,” Kirilov explains, “We have created a unique wine which represents all the good things happening to us every day.”

The first release is 50 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 vintage from a single vineyard in Mount Veeder, Napa Valley and will be priced at $79.00.

Kirilov’s vision is to develop Kukeri Wines to become a boutique brand, which will produce small lots high-quality wines from Napa and Sonoma County.


A Unique Wine Tradition: The Art of Georgian Toasting

January 13, 2014 10:43 am - Posted by Jody in Learn

03.12.2013. Everywhere we have traveled in the Republic of Georgia, there has been toasting. The Georgian toasting traditions are unique in the world. They make you think twice about what is important in your life. If you know about Georgian toasting traditions, you may want to incorporate some of them in your own relationships with your family and friends. In any case, you should be prepared if you plan to travel to Georgia or have Georgian friends. That’s why we would like to share our experience with you in this article.

Georgians tend to invite their guests to elaborate meals, where they generously serve Georgian wine (and brandy). A Georgian meal can last for hours. Dishes are put on the table in seemingly random order. If one is finished, new food is supplied. Some key foods on the Georgian table are bread (including the delicious khachapuri or cheese bread) and dishes with rich, mildly spicy sauces. Common flavors in Georgian cuisine include coriander, fenugreek and walnuts, but many more herbs and spices are used.

The meaning of Georgian toasting

Although Georgian cuisine is tasty and interesting, it is not complete without Georgian wine. Be aware that wine drinking in Georgia is certainly not about getting drunk. Georgians take the whole process of wine production and consumption very seriously. Toasting is a very important ritual at a Georgian table. Georgian toasts are like speeches or stories, in which the speaker says something personal about an important, emotional theme. While this is serious business, there is also a lot of humor and warmth in this tradition. There is singing and dancing during the feast. Those of you who have already visited Georgia, will understand the feeling.

The Georgian view on drinking wine

In the Georgian language, “to propose a toast” is “dalotsva”: “to say a prayer”. By drinking wine – from an animal horn for the most important toasts – Georgians feel as if the spiritual and physical come together. For that reason, the glass (or horn!) has to be drunk ad fundum. There is honor in drinking all the toasts while appearing to remain sober. A Georgian only has a drinking problem when his glass is empty… Fortunately, foreign guests are not seriously expected to do this. Georgians who cannot drink at a table either mention a medical condition or get themselves mercifully appointed as “merikibe”: the one filling empty glasses.

The toastmaster and the toasts

At every Georgian dining feast, one person is appointed “tamada”: the toastmaster. The toastmaster creates the rights atmosphere and initiates toasting rounds. He makes sure that everyone at the table, especially the guests, are feeling well. Usually, the tamada will start a toasting round by making a specific toast himself. Then each person takes his or her turn in making this toast, but with a personal touch or something added to it. Many take their time to explain what is on their mind and in their heart. If there is a long table with many participants, a toasting round requires some patience. But it is amazing how each person gives his or her own interpretation of a toast, finding new elements to add. This is a very natural thing to Georgian people.

Ten basic Georgian toasts you should know

If you are not used to the Georgian way of dining, drinking and toasting, you may have trouble finding something appropriate to say. That’s why we will now give you some Georgian toasts that are commonly made. You’ll have to fill them in according to the specific situation you and the people at the table are in.

1. To our meeting
This can be an opening toast, celebrating the fact that the party has come together. It is a convenient way to start after people have found their seats at the table.

2. To our parents
Thank them for bringing us into the world and raising us. If parents are old, wish them health and a long life.

3. To those who have passed away
The deceased are important in Georgia. They are remembered as the ancestors, their good qualities are mentioned and their souls are wished peace in Heaven. During this toast, everyone dips a piece of bread into their wine and then puts bread on the on the edge of their plates.

4. To the children
This toast usually follows the one for the deceased, because children are the opposite, the future of families and the country.

5. To Georgia
Georgians are extremely proud of their country and are happy to toast to it. Usually, the toast is also made for the country of foreign guests at the table and to the friendship between Georgia and this country.

6. To women
Particular thanks is given to the women who have prepared the food on the table. With them in mind, the toast is usually for women in general, as special creatures to be admired and respected.

7. To peace
Do not underestimate this toast, peace is very important in Georgia. The country has a long and difficult history of wars and occupation by foreign powers. There have also been glorious victories against these powers by medieval Georgian royals, followed by periods of peace and prosperity.

8. To someone celebrating a birthday, graduation or other occasion
This toast is common in other countries as well. Wish the person health and good fortune.

9. To those who could not be at the table, but are present in everyone’s thoughts
If there are specific people that could not be present because they are ill, had to work or for some other reason, they are remembered and toasted to. Sometimes this toast is said in general.

10. To the host family
This toast is usually made by a guest who wants to leave the table. It is a hint that the feast is coming to an end.

Gaumarjos – to your success!

The ten basic toasts should give you a start. In fact there are about 150 “basic” toasts in Georgia…The most important Georgian word to know is “gaumarjos”: “the toast is to”.

Remember that original thoughts in toasts are highly appreciated. Do it in style, avoid ridiculing anyone or anything. It is also good to have some knowledge of your own country’s history and culture, because you may be asked for your favorite poem, hero or song!


The Perfect Cocktail for a Wintery Night

January 10, 2014 4:35 pm - Posted by Jody in Learn
Wine and Whiskey Cocktail: The Giving Tree (via New York Times Video)

Mike Ryan of the Sable Kitchen and Bar in Chicago created a warming cocktail from red wine and whiskey. Read the story here: NYT on Google Plus: Watch more videos at: Follow on Twitter…


New Year, New Way to Make Wine

January 3, 2014 7:55 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink
Air defences (via The Economist)

WINE, any connoiseur will tell you, is a living thing. And as with other organisms, for it, too, oxygen is a mixed blessing. The element breathes life, but it—or strictly speaking reactive oxygen species (ROS), the byproducts of the process through…


Jody’s WTF: Sending Back Wine

January 1, 2014 7:30 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink, Learn

In the debut webisode of WTF, Jody talks about sending back a bottle of wine. Join us every Wednesday evening for more WTF with Jody Ness.




The Classic American Drink Isn’t What You Think

December 9, 2013 9:44 am - Posted by Jody in Drink
Zin, White and Blue (via

  What could Bruce Springsteen, Ernest Hemingway, and Zinfandel possibly have in common?   They’re all as American as the upcoming 4th of July.   Indeed, it’s commonly argued that Zinfandel is the grape variety that America does better than any…

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The US Continues its Love Affair with Wine

December 2, 2013 9:51 am - Posted by Jody in Drink

Good news for wine lovers in the States, our numbers are growing and we are getting more adventurous.

As the economy continued to stabilize in 2012, wine consumption increased for the 19th straight year.  Overturned blue laws, relaxed restrictions on direct shipments, and customers trading up to more premium-priced wines all led to the industry’s success last year.  According to The Beverage Information Group’s recently released 2013 Wine Handbook, the wine industry grew 1.9% last year to reach 318.0 million 9-liter cases.

Consumers’ interest in sweet wines, un-oaked chardonnays and red blends helped spur the Table Wine category to increase 1.8% to reach 292.4 million 9-liter cases.  Domestics grew 2.0% and imported table wine increased 1.5%.  The Champagne and Sparkling Wine category also posted positive results.

The off-premise saw a 2.2% increase in cases and a 4.5% increase in dollars, but on-premise wine sales began to slow toward the last half of 2012 due to economic uncertainty.  Total wine dollar sales grew to $28.9 billion last year with off-premise accounting for 56.4%, while on-premise accounted for only 43.6%.

While the on-premise had its struggles, direct-to-consumer wine shipments saw success, contributing $1.4 billion to the industry.  Direct shipping data is now detailed in the 2013 Wine Handbook, including data by volume, region, price category and varietal.


Cigars and Wine – Here’s What You Need to Know

November 15, 2013 10:34 am - Posted by Jody in Learn
The Truth About Cuban Cigars (via

Mystique has surrounded them for years. Many automatically assume that Cubans are the crème de la crème of the cigar world. But do they really deserve this distinction or are they just coasting on the laurels of decades worth of hype and intrigue? …

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Central and Eastern Euopean Wines are Getting Hot

October 28, 2013 9:47 am - Posted by Jody in Drink
Croatia, Georgia and Hungary – the haven of production Central & Eastern Europe (via Hvino News)

01.10.2013. The typical American consumer would probably fail to point out Eastern European countries like Georgia, Hungary, Croatia, or Slovenia if they were given a map of Europe. However, in terms of wine production, this region is actually a major…

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Stemware Matters

October 14, 2013 9:29 am - Posted by Jody in Drink
New Study Shows Wine Glasses Affect Your Pour (via NewsLook)

Video News by NewsLook Researchers say the shape of wine glass, type of wine, and even whether you hold your glass when you pour affects how much you drink.

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