15 Galaktion Tabidze St, Rustavi, Georgia
Taste Wine in A Vaulted CellarOn the restaurant-lined Galaktion Tabidze street, this vaulted cellar that opened in 2012 is the unofficial clubhouse of Georgia, where visiting grape geeks worship natural wine. It’s “the” place in town to sniff and swirl, co-owned by eight naturally minded vintners and wine growers who often hold tastings and entertain their guests, offering a carefully curated list of bottles and by-the-glass wines. Most of the wines are fermented in clay vessels called qvevri, according to Georgia’s 8,000-year old winemaking traditions. There are intriguing amber-hued Rkatsiteli produced by the monks at the Alaverdi Monastery, and also a complex, dark, lush Saperavi red from Kakheti’s cult, Pheasants Tears winery. You might bump into visiting dignitaries like the wine director of Noma, stumble into a spontaneous folk performance, or encounter waiter vintners who will talk you through Georgia’s intriguing wines, one grape at a time. For nibbling, there are cheeses from small local producers, seasonal vegetables dressed in walnut and garlic, and aromatic, unfiltered sunflower oil for dipping dense country bread made from tsiteli doli, a variety of heirloom red-grained wheat.