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A Complete Guide to Georgian Chacha – “Georgian Vodka”

Georgian Chacha is a distinctive Georgian alcoholic beverage that is beloved by locals but honestly makes many foreigners groan (just a little) when it’s brought to the table. This strong (I mean STRONG, often over 70% ABV) spirit is a by-product of the wine-making process and its rich history and unique production methods have been intertwined in Georgian culture for over 1000 years.

In this post, we’re going to discuss the origins of Georgian Chacha, how it’s made, some of its health benefits, and uncover the different flavours that make it a favourite among locals and a must-try for visitors to Georgia. 

What Is Chacha
What Is Chacha

What is Georgian Chacha?

Chacha, sometimes known as “Georgian brandy” or “Georgian Grappa”, is a traditional grape pomace brandy that is widely consumed and celebrated in Georgia. It is often compared to similar drinks like Italian grappa or Ouzo, as it is also made from distillation of the must ( grape pomace) that remains after the winemaking process.

The roots of this beverage can be traced back over 1000 years and is deeply intertwined with the country’s winemaking traditions. 

Chacha is crafted by distilling the fermented grape skins, seeds, and stems left over after the winemaking process. This allows Georgian winemakers to maximize the use of their grape harvest, reducing waste and creating a versatile and flavoursome spirit. 

FYI, the term for the leftover skins, seeds, and stems (which are also sometimes used in winemaking, but not always) is also referred to as “Chacha” in Georgia (not pomace) as well as the final drink after distillation – this can sometimes be a little confusing for visitors.

Georgian chacha – pomace brandy
Georgian chacha – pomace brandy

Distillation Process – How to Make Chacha

The distillation process plays a crucial role in refining the leftover skins and seeds into Chacha or (also sometimes called “Georgian Vodka” even though the production method is different – but its a stong transparent spirit, so looks similar). 

Here’s a breakdown of the distillation process:


After the grapes are pressed for winemaking, the resulting pomace (the “Chacha” in Georgian) is collected for fermentation. The pomace/must is placed in large fermentation vessels, where it undergoes a natural fermentation process. Often in qvevris (Georgian egg shaped clay amphora), but steel tanks, wood vats, glass containers etc. may also be used. The frementaion process can take anywhere from 7 days to a few weeks, allowing the fruit sugars to convert into alcohol, and wine to be the result.

Wine making bi-product - must or grape pomace
Wine making bi-product – must or grape pomace

Pot Still Distillation:

Once fermentation is complete, the grape pomace is transferred to copper pot stills for distillation. It’s worth noting that the pomace is not always removed directly after fermentation, its common with Georgian amber wines, for example, to leave the wine on the pomace for up to 6 months, sometimes more.

The stills used production are often small, homemade and crafted with centuries-old techniques. We’ve seen everything from beautifully handcrafted stills to basically a drum barrel with some pipes used to make Chacha – it’s amazing what you’ll find winemakers and locals using!  Anyway, the pomace is carefully heated, and the alcohol vapors are collected and condensed, resulting in a higher proof spirit. We’re talking 40% and higher. I think the highest we’ve ever tried is 74% – woof!

Georgian Chacha Distillation

Double Distillation:

Some producers opt for a double distillation, known as fractional distillation, to further refine the Chacha. The spirit is distilled multiple times, each time removing impurities and enhancing the desired characteristics. This meticulous process allows for greater control over the final product’s quality and flavor profile.

Georgian chacha
Georgian chacha

Aging (Optional):

While Chacha is often consumed young and unaged, some variations are aged in oak barrels or other wooden vessels (my personal favourite style of Chacha). Aging adds additional complexity and smoothness to the Chacha, adding flavours and aromas almost like a nice scotch or whiskey. However, it’s worth mentioning that the aging process is not as extensive as you would find with traditional brandy or Cognac, Georgians tend to opt for shorter maturation periods ranging from a few months to a couple of years. But there are certainly some producers we’ve met that are working on aging their Chacha for longer – and I look forward to trying it when it is ready!

Georgian Homemade Pot Still
Georgian Homemade Pot Still

If you’re looking for a more detailed explanation of the Georigan Chacha making process, this article by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) is an interesting and comprehensive read.

After all of this, the final product as a drink can be enjoyed neat (usually as a shot), or used as a base for some tasty cocktails.

Georgian Alcohol
Georgian Alcohol

Cultural Significance

Chacha holds a special place in Georgian culture and is considered the country’s national spirit. It plays a significant role in various social and cultural events, including weddings, celebrations, and traditional feasts called supras. The offering and sharing of Chacha symbolizes the hospitality and warm welcome of the Georgian people.

Chacha is also deeply connected to Georgia’s winemaking traditions. The grape varieties used in Chacha production reflect the diverse and unique terroir of the country. Different regions in Georgia produce Chacha using their own grape varieties, resulting in a wide range of flavours and harmonious aroma that showcase the country’s vinicultural diversity. Aside from grapes many other fruits and herbs can also be used to make Chacha too, including figs, quince, tarragon, apples, pears….the list goes on! But the main fruit that is used is of course Georgia’s beloved grapes.

Georgian Chacha

Families come together for the “Zaodoba” home festival, where they distill the Chacha and celebrate together. This is an event it is occasionally possible to attend as a foreigner, either as part of a tour or if you happen to have Georgian friends who make wine and can get an invite to their home. Artificial/simulation versions of this can also be booked as a tour or at some of the larger wineries and wine hotels, provided you have a larger group wanting to attend.

–> Our tour company Eat This! Tours offer a small number of tours each year where you can join the families and make chacha and churchkhela (Georgian national dessert). Find out more about our Chacha tour here

Georgian Fruit Vodka
Georgian Fruit Vodka

Serving and Pairing

Ideal Serving Temperature

Ok, so there’s no standard serving temperature for your run-of-the-mill family Chacha. Room or marani (wine cellar) temperature (14 Degrees Celsius) is how its typically served. If you are partaking in a fancier bottle you may want to chill the bottle for an hour before you drink up. I’ve never seen an average Georgian serve it on ice, but whatever you want to do is up to you! If served in a cocktail (which is a new trend), then ice is certainly added.

If you are attending the Zaodoba (Chacha distillation festival) then it is typical to taste the new Chacha hot, straight from the distillation pipe like you can see in the image above.

Chacha Food Pairing – Khinkali
Chacha Food Pairing – Khinkali

Food Pairings

The main food that is paired with Chacha is khinkali. Usually at restaurants, you’ll see tables of men with large plates literally overflowing with khinkali and a bottle of Chacha either on the table or in an ice bucket beside them. And I have to say, taking a shot before slurping up the steamy juices and meat packed inside a piece of khinkali does enhance the flavour a bit….but maybe not worth the hangover the next day. That choice I leave entirely up to you! And if Georgian’s tell you their all-natural Chacha won’t give you a hangover, this is almost always untrue, if you drink too much of it!

Chacha is also something that will be served towards the end of a supra or wine pairing, so it also goes nicely with bbq pork (mtsvadi), dried fruits and nuts, and local Georgian cheeses like sulguni or guda.

Georgian chacha
Georgian chacha

What Are The Health Benefits of Chacha? 

Antioxidant Properties

One of the notable health benefits is its antioxidant properties.

The high concentration of polyphenols found in Chacha makes it a potent source of antioxidants. Polyphenols can help with digestion, give your brain a boost (once you sober up!? 74%, lol.), and help keep your blood sugar in check. Plus, they’re like the little internal bodyguards against blood clots, heart issues, and even some types of cancer.

Research has suggested that consuming moderate amounts of Chacha, in conjunction with a balanced diet rich in other antioxidant-rich foods, may contribute to overall health and well-being.

However, excessive consumption can obviously have detrimental effects on your health, so moderation is key! And maybe stick to the 50% stuff, rather than the 74%.

Digestive Benefits

In addition to its antioxidant properties, Georgian Chacha is also known for its digestive benefits. Traditionally, Chacha has been used as a digestive aid, particularly after a supra (Georgian feast). When you’re so insanely stuffed from eating all of the incredible local Georgian cuisine, Chacha can actually help with digestion and gastrointestinal health.

Georgian Chacha

Our Top Choices

When you visit Georgia you’ll find that basically everyone that makes wine – also makes chacha, but finding a good one to try can be a tricky task for a visitor.

Lucky for you we’ve been to over 200+ wineries and numerous wine festivals and tried a few in our time living here.

  1. Mukhiguli 1778
  2. Bua Wines
  3. Tedo’s Marani try their chacha aged in mulberry wood.
Georgian Chacha

While I joke about foreigners not being the biggest fans of Chacha (it’s just sooo lethal) If you haven’t tried Georgian Chacha yet, I highly recommend seeking it out and experiencing this unique spirit either in your hometown or why not hop a flight and come visit us in Georgia, and we’ll all toast to your initiation to this traditional Georgian spirit.

In Georgia Chacha is everywhere, so it won’t be hard to find. It’s a bit like Beetlejuice – if you say “Chacha” out loud in Georgia, it will probably appear, even if you don’t want it to, and you only need to say it once, rather than 3 times, to find the bottle is already being poured into shot glasses!

Gaumojos! (Cheers!)

Rtveli: Wine Harvest Tours

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