: : : A brief public service announcement : : :
I’ve tried and failed to find a efficient way of pooling and channeling Western donations to small Georgian charities and NGOs. The problem is that Paypal (the least expensive option, if not the lesser of the available evils) doesn’t operate in Georgia; bank transfers are expensive and impractical; Western Union is a pain in the ass and ill-suited besides; etc.
So I have an alternative suggestion – and one especially apt for this LJ: Drink Georgian wines. Admittedly, it’s not as helpful as providing peanut butter to IDPs, but one can hope the funds from your wine purchases will ultimately trickle into the somewhat demolished, post-war Georgian economy. Anyway, I don’t have a better idea. Though maybe this guy is on to something. Not this guy.
There are, also, some perfectly good apolitical reasons to buy Georgian wine.
Archeological finds have it that Georgia (specifically the area around Shulaveri) is the place where wine was invented. So maybe that’s enough reason for you to try a more recent vintage from the same area? Historical reenactment.
Also, if you’re asking me, a nice dry Georgian red is practically the Platonic ideal of what wine should taste like: smooth, grapey, and incomplex. At the upper end of the dry scale is Mukuzani – my personal favorite. But wouldn’t overlook a regular Saperavi either. Two of the best reds in the world, all favoritism aside. You should try them for no other reason than I’ve been recommending them for years.
Georgia also produces a huge quantity of sweet/semi-sweet reds and various whites, but I know fuckall about those. Sorry.
Mainland Europeans should have little trouble ordering Georgian wines via specialty stores or whichever official state organ monopolizes alcohol distribution. A certain Pernod-Ricard owns the company Georgian Wines & Spirits (and its brands ‘Old Tbilisi’ and ‘Tamada’). Their products are widely available, but I don’t particularly recommend them. More helpful to the local economy would be buying from Telavi Wine Cellar or Teliani Valley. Those are fairly easy to find, too.
In the UK, it seems some good resources have been collected here.
In the Americas, one can locate any urban concentration of Russians and hope that the inevitable ‘Evropean Market’ that serves them carries Georgian foodstuffs/spirits. It’s common for those places to stock goods from all over the ol’ Bloc.
Alternately (and I promise – it hurts me to say this) try visiting Whole Foods in the US & Canada. Word has it that the chain is carrying a variety of Georgian wines now. Check the shelves – or just ask.
The punkest thing to do, of course, is front a few dollars to the US Postal Service and mailorder your wine. I’ve found a good-looking outlet for Georgian products: These people offer Mukuzani, Saperavi, Khvanchkara (semi-sweet), Khvanchkara in a terra-cotta bottle, and Kindzmarauli (another semi-sweet). All at seemingly reasonable prices.
So – if you must – give to the Red Cross, etc. etc. Sure. But be sure to go tipsy after having enjoyed a nice glass of Georgian wine! You’ll be helping some people out – and if you have any taste at all, you’ll probably enjoy the stuff. Thank you.