In previous posts we have mentioned the Georgian’s love for wine and for their home-made vodka called ChaCha.
Here is a Wikipedia link to learn more about this drink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chacha_(brandy)
The purpose for this post is to give a first hand account of making ჭაჭა. In our little village of Gonio, just 6 km from the resort city of Batumi we live with our host grandmother Margarita Kakhidze, an 84 year old retired Russian language teacher. She is the matriarch of our host family and also the producer and keeper of the ჭაჭა.
From the Wikipedia article referenced above, you learned that ჭაჭა is produced from a variety of fruits. Ours comes from Mulberries harvested from the huge mulberry tree at the front of our house. Throughout Spring when the mulberries began dropping from the tree the family began the arduous task of gathering them all up from the ground. Some were hand picked but others were caught in large tarps stretched out beneath the tree. We experienced several days when the weather was really violent with rain and wind. This played havoc with the tarps, but I don’t believe many mulberries were lost.
The collected mulberries ended up in two 500 liter barrels, that’s about 55 gallons each. Water and whatever else is needed was added to this mixture and the “mash” was set aside to age.
Last week we were sitting in our room reading or working on the computer when the smell of smoke began coming through the door. We weren’t concerned about the house being on fire since everything is make of stone. Our concern was what to do as we did not want to have a smoky room. As we mentioned in other posts, having open fires is not uncommon here and the sight and smell of smoke can be seen or smelled almost every day, but this was different. We looked out our window and did not see any smoke, we looked out front but could not find any smoke there. Finally we went to the side of the house and there was smoke.
When I first heard the Bebia made the ჭაჭა I wasn’t sure what type of device the family had. All I could imagine was the still seen in old movies about moonshiners in the hills of Tennessee, something like this:
I could not imagine the size or bulk of this device. Now I was told this is not owned by our host family but rather only on loan as it cost about $400.00. Here is a few more pictures of this process.
It is my understanding there is still another distilling process that has to happen before the finished product is ready to drink. I will keep you posted on the final results during a later post. For now enjoy this short movie.
This is a method Georgian’s use to show off the quality of their ChaCha. They light it and check the color.