Exploring The Rich History, Unique Flavors, And Cultural Significance Of Georgia's Celebrated Drink
Cover image © Pavel Ageychenko

Georgia, a vibrant crossroads of East and West, is a country where ancient traditions fuse with contemporary dynamics. It is here that Chacha, a spirited embodiment of Georgian resilience and joy, finds its roots. More than just a traditional beverage, Chacha (Georgian: ჭაჭა) is a proud symbol of national identity, reflecting a rich tapestry of history and the spirited soul of its people.

Amber-colored chacha set against a backdrop of green, red, and black grapes
The Essence of Georgian Heritage: A Flask of Chacha Amidst a Bounty of Grapes

The Making Of Chacha: From Grape Pomace To Potent Spirit

Chacha is born from the grape residue (pomace) left after wine production, embracing every last drop of the grape's essence. This efficient use of resources reflects the Georgian ethos of respect for nature and its bounties. The process involves double distilling fermented pomace, including the last fraction of wine pressing, in a traditional or home-based still. Interestingly, while chacha shares some characteristics with American "moonshine," its production in Georgia is legal and deeply embedded in the fabric of family traditions.

In homes and professional distilleries alike, the spirit varies in strength, typically ranging from 45% to 60% alcohol by volume, with some home brews reaching a staggering 85%. This variance not only reflects the personal touch of each maker but also the diverse approaches and recipes passed down through generations.

An outdoor traditional Georgian chacha distillery
Tradition in a Drop: The Ancient Craft of Distilling Chacha in Georgia's Countryside

A Journey Through Flavors And Regions

The flavor profile of chacha is as diverse as the Georgian landscape. In the Kakheti region, the heart of Georgia's wine country, chacha often bears an oak-infused taste, a reflection of the region's winemaking expertise. In contrast, chachas from the capital, Tbilisi, present a different bouquet. Distilleries like Chateau Mukhrani and Telavi Wine Cellar innovate by introducing natural ingredients, adding layers of complexity to the traditional flavor.

Specialty varieties have emerged, such as Teliani Valley's line-up including 'Gold', aged in oak barrels, and 'Honey', where the chacha is distilled alongside honeycombs. Vazi+'s 'Binekhi' label offers a twist with its Binekhi Estragon, incorporating natural estragon for an added dimension of taste.

Bottles of Georgian chacha infused with fruits and herbs
An array of homemade chacha bottles, displaying the diverse infusions of Georgia's beloved spirit.

Chacha On The World Stage

The international acclaim of Georgian chacha is a striking indicator of its growing popularity beyond its homeland. Key moments in its global recognition are highlighted by prestigious awards, which have significantly raised its profile in the world of spirits.

Notably, the Binekhi Estragon variety of chacha was awarded a silver medal at the 2007 Mundus Vini, a major international wine competition. This award marked a significant milestone, showcasing the quality and uniqueness of Georgian chacha to a wide international audience. Similarly, Chateau Mukhrani's chacha received the gold medal at the 2011 Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition, further establishing chacha's reputation as a high-quality spirit on the global stage.

These accolades have helped to introduce chacha to new markets and consumers, expanding its reach well beyond the borders of Georgia. The recognition at these esteemed international competitions has not only brought attention to chacha itself but also highlighted Georgia's rich cultural heritage and its long history of winemaking and spirit production.

In summary, the success of Georgian chacha at international competitions like Mundus Vini and the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition has been instrumental in elevating its status and recognition as a distinctive and high-quality spirit on the world stage.

More Than A Drink: Chacha In Georgian Life

Chacha's role in Georgian society transcends that of a mere beverage. It is often touted for its medicinal properties, believed to remedy ailments from ear blockages to indigestion, and even suggested as a topical solution for acne. This belief in chacha's healing powers is deeply ingrained in Georgian folklore and medicine.

Moreover, the spirit is a staple at Georgian feasts and celebrations, embodying the spirit of Georgian hospitality. It's more than a drink; it's a shared experience, a toast to health, happiness, and the enduring strength of Georgian culture.

A close-up view of a bottle of chacha being poured into glasses
From Still to Sip: Celebrating the Golden Essence of Georgian Chacha, Paired with Traditional Bites.

Celebrating Chacha: Batumi's Unique Tribute

The city of Batumi, Georgia's vibrant seaside hub, paid homage to its national spirit, chacha, by erecting a 25-meter tower in 2012, complete with an observation deck, clock, pools, and tourist information center. This tower gained fame for its unique water fountain, which used to flow with chacha sourced from local distillers for about 10-15 minutes weekly, symbolizing Georgia's pride in this traditional beverage.

Although the chacha flow has since ceased, the tower remains a popular landmark in Batumi. It stands as a testament to the city's innovative spirit and deep reverence for Georgian cultural traditions, particularly the historic and communal role of chacha.

The Future Of Chacha: Protected And Prospering

Recognizing chacha's cultural significance, the Georgian government enacted the “Law on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications of Goods” in 2005. This legal framework safeguards chacha, ensuring its legacy and authenticity for future generations.


Chacha is more than a testament to Georgian ingenuity in winemaking; it's a vibrant thread in the fabric of Georgian culture. From the humble home stills to the accolades on the global stage, chacha remains a symbol of the Georgian spirit: robust, diverse, and deeply connected to the land and its people. As Georgia continues to stride forward, chacha, with its rich history and evolving identity, is poised to charm the world, one glass at a time.

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