10-09-2016

8000 Vintages, a new wine shop in age-old Tbilisi

I’ve spent the last month running across the entire country of Georgia to research a new wine guide. When I tell people this, I feel the mental image is of me lounging in a pool, drunk, and shooting the shit with winemakers. Ironically, the reality is that I drank nothing during this month and was putting in 12-14 hour days to visit 4-6 wineries per day and drove some 5,000km during this time. It’s wonderful work but considerably different than a day jaunt up to Napa Valley.

Included in this however is visiting businesses in the capital, Tbilisi, to see how wine is enjoyed when not out in the wine regions. Thus, I found my way to 8000 Vintages. This nod to Georgia’s extensive winemaking history is a combination wine shop and bar that opened up in May of this year at 26 Sulkhan Tsintsadze Street which I believe to be the Saburtalo neighborhood, but I could easily be wrong.

While anyone who has or will visit Georgia may note, there are already a number of wine shops in the Old Town center. There are even one or two of them that are decent with some enthusiastic guys on staff. But these shops are more targeted towards the tourists in the city and as such, Russian Semi Sweet favorites such as Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara can play heavily in their selections. Many of them also don’t use proper climate control which for the more naturally made wines of Georgia, is a death knell.

This is where 8000 Vintages is considerable different. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass to get to if you’re hanging out around the center but the journey is well worth it as the selection is stupendous and the shop, immaculate. Classy and industrial in design, at the back there is a bar to taste wines. At the front, they also have a number of wines to try both blind and uncovered.

All of this is steered by in-house sommelier, Zaza Grigalashvili. A gregarious and welcoming fellow, he’s more than happy to share everything he knows about the wines with anyone who comes in to the shop. It’s important to note that the shop wasn’t designed just for tourists and they have a lot of weekly tasting classes to educate the wine drinking public of Tbilisi which is admittedly something of a work in progress.

If you find yourself in Tbilisi, I recommend checking it out.