Among the huge variety of alcoholic drinks, chacha occupies a special place. For the population of Georgia, this product is a matter of special pride - just like cognac for the French, and sherry for the Spaniards.
The name "chacha" from Georgian translates as "grape squeezes." In the post-Soviet space, this drink is often called "Georgian vodka", but in reality this definition is not true. Chacha is a grape brandy, which is made by fermentation from grapes and grape marc. As a rule, grapes of Isabella, Kacic or Rkatsiteli grapes are used for this. However, there are variations with the addition of cherry plum, tangerines or figs.
The approximate analogues of this drink are Italian grappa, as well as popular rakia and Chilean pisco in the Balkans. Chachi strength varies from 50 to 70%.
History and manufacturing method
Chacha can rightfully claim the title of one of the oldest alcoholic beverages, which are prepared by distillation. At the same time, it would be a mistake to call it moonshine - the classic chacha is made from fermented marc, without adding sugar or yeast.
It is noteworthy that this product is prepared mainly at home - in an industrial way, this drink is produced in not too large volumes. This is explained by the fact that almost every Georgian family has its own recipe for making a "Georgian brandy", which is passed down from generation to generation.
Prepare chacha as follows. Grape marquees are placed in qvevri - special ceramic vessels resembling amphoras, but without handles. They are stored there during the winter months, and in the spring they are removed from qvevri and distilled using a special device. To do this, put a huge pot of copper on the fire, close the lid with a spout, and cover the gaps with a mixture of soot from the ground. A pipe is connected to the nozzle, which passes through a vessel with cold water, and the joint is covered with corn flour dough and then tied with a cloth.
It is noteworthy that in different regions of the country there are own rules for the distillation of the drink. So, Western Georgia cannot boast of large vineyard areas and a significant harvest. A double distillation chacha is prepared here, focusing not so much on the taste of the drink as on its strength. In some areas - for example, Samegrelo and Guria - even triple distillation is carried out. At the same time, in Kakheti, which boasts huge vineyards, wine is produced in huge volumes, and, therefore, there are a lot of grape marquees. Therefore, double distillation is not carried out here, believing that it is an absolutely waste of time and effort. In order to improve the chacha obtained as a result of a single distillation, the condensate fractions are separated here, moving the first and last to another container, and using only the main part.
Aging this product is also a true art. There are several folk recipes that can improve the taste of the drink during aging. For example, many gourmets prefer chacha, aged in barrels of mulberry wood. This drink has a milder taste and delicate aroma. Sometimes the “Georgian brandy" is given a more noble color, adding to it a partition of walnuts. Some also add fragrant herbs to the product.
Standards and Patents
Chacha - a drink is not simple, but with a "passport", that is, with a patent. On December 13, 2011, the National Center for Intellectual Property of Georgia "Sakpatenti" granted the application filed by the Ministry of Agriculture and registered the chacha. In other words, this name can now be used exclusively by a drink from squeezed grapes, which was prepared on the territory of Georgia.
In addition, the patent introduces a number of restrictions as to which raw material the manufacture of the product is permissible. This drink can only be made from grapes that were grown in Abkhazia, Adjara, Guria, Kakheti, Kartli, Samegrelo, Racha, Imereti, Lechkhumi and Meskheti. At the same time, it is allowed to distill chacha outside the region where the grapes used as raw materials were harvested.
The document also specifies the organoleptic properties of chacha. It should be transparent and colorless, and with very bright taste and aromatic qualities. In the event that the drink is well aged, color is allowed, ranging from pale golden to dark straw.
It is noted that the minimum alcohol content in the drink should be 40%, and the content of volatile substances - at least 1.4 g per liter of absolute alcohol.
The patent notes that natural flavors can be added to the drink, but be sure to specify this on the label. According to the rules, aging of chacha in wooden vessels made of oak or other wood is allowed. Also, the drink can be insisted on wood chips.
There are a number of limitations. So, it is not allowed to add any alcohol to the drink, except for that which was obtained as a result of distillation of grape marc. It is also forbidden to increase artificially in pomace, which will be used to make chachi, sugar content. And finally, the only raw materials that are used to make authentic Georgian chachi are grape marc. Drinks made from persimmons, tangerines or other fruits are not entitled to bear this name.
Calorie content and chemical composition
Chacha is a drink with a fairly high energy value. It is 225 kcal per 100 g of product. The composition of the nutrients is as follows: 0.1 g of protein, the same amount of fat and 0.5 g of carbohydrates.
This drink boasts a very impressive chemical composition. First of all, chacha is rich in vitamin B2, it is also riboflavin. This is an essential substance that is essential for the absorption of iron in the body along with food. In addition, riboflavin is responsible for the condition of the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines, as well as the oral cavity, and promotes the healing of microtraumas. Vitamin also contributes to the functioning of the thyroid gland, helps fight skin diseases - eczema, acne, dermatitis.
Vitamin PP, known as niacin, is also present in chachi. It effectively dilates blood vessels, preventing their spasm, helps to absorb vegetable protein that comes with food, and is effective in lowering the level of "bad" cholesterol. Also, without niacin, the synthesis of gastric juice and a number of digestive enzymes is impossible.
As for minerals, potassium is present in the chachi, which is critical for normalizing heart rate and supplying oxygen to brain tissue. In addition, this element has antihistamine properties and is involved in maintaining water balance in the body.
Calcium boasts anti-inflammatory properties, and is also responsible for the condition of bone and dental tissue. In addition, it activates a number of hormones and enzymes.
Magnesium is necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system. This element helps with chronic fatigue and emotional overload.
Iron plays the "first violin" in the process of formation of hemoglobin of blood, it is necessary to increase the body's resistance. It also participates in the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
Without phosphorus, cognitive activity is impossible. In addition, he takes part in protein synthesis and energy metabolism.
Sodium is an integral element of water-salt metabolism. It normalizes digestion, participating in the production of digestive enzymes and gastric juice, and also prevents vascular spasms.
Chacha is a real storehouse of useful properties, due to the chemical composition of the grape marc from which this product is prepared.
In Georgia, chacha is known as the "drink of longevity." Georgians themselves call chacha "longevity drink" due to a wide range of beneficial properties:
- lowering the level of "bad" cholesterol and preventing atherosclerosis;
- reducing the risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular system;
- cancer prevention;
- acceleration of metabolic processes;
- antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties ;;
- improving digestion, getting rid of edema and "unloading" of the kidneys.
We emphasize once again that the Georgian brandy will display all these outstanding qualities only under the condition of reasonable consumption.
How to drink
Chacha is a drink that is accepted in Georgia to strictly follow the rules. So, they drink chacha exclusively in small portions, pouring it into ordinary vodka glasses. It is usually customary to serve a room-temperature drink to the table, however, if the chacha cannot boast of excellent taste, it is cooled to a temperature of five to ten degrees.
As a rule, this drink is not diluted, despite the fact that it is quite strong. Nevertheless, those who are afraid to use the "Georgian brandy" in its pure form, use it to make cocktails. Chacha goes well with ice and fruit juices, and in Abkhazia chacha is washed down with dry wine.
Please note that drinking this drink with water, including mineral, and carbonated drinks is strongly not recommended, because it is fraught with rapid and severe intoxication.
Bite chacha without fail, since this drink, despite the deceptive softness, is very strong. In the western regions of Georgia, sweets, fruits or hard cheeses are served with this alcohol, and in the east it is customary to eat chacha with pickles. Also, "Georgian brandy" goes well with almost all dishes of national cuisine.
How to make a drink at home
Many people wonder how to cook real Georgian chacha at home. There are many recipes. We give only one of them, which is considered classic. So, you will need the following ingredients: 30 liters of water, 10 liters of squeezed Isabella grapes and 5-7 kilograms of sugar.
Squeeze the pomace in a saucepan and add sugar. In the event that the grapes were not treated with soap or powder, the bacteria necessary for fermentation remained on its surface.
If the berries were treated with drugs that could kill bacteria, you will have to use yeast. Please note that this is not about baking, but about special dry wine yeast. The proportion is 5-10 g per 10 liters of pulp.
Pour the contents of the pan with water, the temperature of which is 20-25 degrees. In the event that the room temperature is above 20 degrees, there is no need to conduct additional heating to start fermentation. If in the room where the container is located, there is a significant difference between day and night temperature, you will have to maintain the same temperature regime around the clock by artificial means.
The fermentation process using yeast will take at least ten days, if the yeast was not used, then the minimum period is one month. The contents of the pan must be constantly mixed. In addition, at least once a day, you will have to open the pan and lower the “cap” from the pulp that has risen to the surface and put it back into the liquid. Otherwise, mold may appear on it.
As soon as gas evolution stops, you can proceed to the next stage - distillation. Chacha is distilled in the same way as ordinary moonshine. You can use either one distillation or two. After a single distillation, the drink will have a rich grape aroma. Double distillation will clear chacha of fusel oils and their unpleasant odor.
Pour the finished chacha into bottles. Keep the drink in a place protected from sunlight at a temperature of 15 to 20 degrees. About a month after making the chacha, it “ripens”, and its aroma and taste are finally formed.
We should also mention the methods of cleaning chachi, with which freshly brewed moonshine can be eliminated from unnecessarily high strength and fusel odor. So, pine nuts can be considered one of the best chachi cleaners. Pour a handful of nucleoli into a liter of chacha, and after two weeks, filter the drink, after discarding the nuts.
Another option for cleaning chacha involves the use of activated carbon. Add coal to the drink at a rate of 50 g per liter. Stir regularly for two weeks, and then filter through regular cotton wool.
As noted above, chacha is usually consumed in its pure form, but it can also be used for making cocktails.
So, for example, you can mix 50 ml of chachi, 45 ml of cherry liquor and add 30 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice. The mixture is poured into a glass pre-filled with ice and 5 g of sugar is added. The result is the popular Tbilisi Fix cocktail.
Having mixed chacha, peach liqueur and lemon juice in a proportion of 60 ml-20 ml-10 ml in a shaker, you will get an amazingly aromatic cocktail called "Georgian Peach". And for lovers of strong alcohol, Sakartvelli is suitable - a cocktail of chacha, red vermouth and lemon vodka (40 ml-20 ml-20 ml).
Harm and contraindications
Chachi should be used responsibly - it is an alcoholic drink, and quite strong. To future mothers, nursing women, as well as children and adolescents, it is contraindicated. In addition, hypertensive patients, people with chronic diseases of the cardiovascular system, as well as gastric ulcers, should refrain from using chachi.
As noted above, chacha is a true Georgian legend. Until today, in some remote regions of Georgia in the villages spend a holiday known as "Zaodoba". During the festival, all locals present their version of chachi, after which they choose the best drink in terms of taste.
Chacha is one of the few alcoholic beverages that boasts a monument erected in its honor. In Batumi, there is the so-called Chacha Tower, built in 2012. This is a special installation, which once a week, for fifteen minutes, generously provides the opportunity to try the legendary drink.
There is a very original way in which it is customary in Georgia to check the quality of the finished “Georgian brandy”. A finger is dipped into it, and then a lighter is brought to it. If the flame burns out, but the finger does not burn, then the drink is considered high-quality.