Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia

Uncorking the Caucasus
Uncorking the Caucasus by Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey

In May 2015—after four years of deliberating and planning together—Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey sold almost all of their possessions, dropped the comfort and security of their lucrative careers, and left Singapore to travel around the world with a dream of building a location-independent business and to absorb the world’s lessons.

Driven by a common passion for wine, they ended up diverting all their attention and resources to the self-study of wine as they travelled through Western Europe, the Caucasus, ex-Yugoslavia, and Mexico. Uncorking the Caucasus is the first of a series of wine travel books that they will be writing. They also share wine travel tips, videos, wine-related stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on their website exoticwinetravel.com.

Enjoying wine in Cappadocia
Enjoying wine in Cappadocia

When prompted about the name “Exotic Wine Travel”, the duo explained that the problem with lesser-known wine regions and exotic wines is that too often, visitors bounce around a country swiftly and end up tasting some substandard, local wines. For that reason, Charine and Matthew aim to explore some of the lesser-known wine regions and introduce the readers to the best they have to offer with even some anecdotal insight into their peculiarity. This should encourage wine lovers to explore more new wines and leave a wine region with the best possible impression.

Beka Gotsadze
Beka Gotsadze of Gotsa and his family

Uncorking The Caucasus is about the wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. Part travel narrative and part wine guide, the book leads the readers through a tasting tour of the wine regions in the three countries. It recommends the best wines each place has to offer, provides anecdotal insights into the wine culture of each country, and discusses the history of ancient winemaking based on archeological evidence and folklores.

Visiting 6100 year old Areni 1 Cave in Armenia
Visiting 6100 year old Areni 1 Cave in Armenia

There are many arguments about how wine came into existence but from the archaeological perspective, the signs point to about 10,000 years ago when wine originated from the Transcaucasia —which includes present-day Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey. However, this book isn’t about determining the birthplace of wine, but rather the goal is to capture the ethos of a wine region — the connection between wine, people, and place.

Qvevri found in Zorah winery
Qvevri found in Zorah winery

Dr Matthew Horkey said, “Our three-month journey through the cradle of wine deeply touched us. The producers, the land, and the people provide endless inspiration and set the stage for a story to be told. With Georgian wine becoming fashionable, unbounded gastronomy potential that is unfortunately concealed by political turbulence in Turkey, and Armenia’s strong desire to bring glory back to their wine industry, now is the time to show the world what these countries are capable of.”

wine ferments in qvevri
Watching wine ferments in a buried qvevri Georgia

For the wines highlighted in this book, besides their sensory merits, they should also spark curiosity and reflect an inspiring point of view that challenges the narrative of wine.

wine in Armenia
Discovering the inspiration behind a wine in Armenia

“In writing about our wine travel experiences, we hope to start new conversations about wine, such as the stories about the people behind wine, the meaning and context of wine, and the importance of promoting diversity in the world of wine,” said Charine Tan. “Most importantly, we want this book to encourage people to take on a liberal attitude toward lesser-known wine regions, arm them with the knowledge to explore those places, and intrigue them to try exotic wines.”

You can order the book on Amazon.