Wine production and consumption have held an important place in Georgian culture
and history for centuries. Jars dating to the 6th millennium BC have been discovered
at Shulaveri in south eastern Georgia, with the residue of wine still preserved
on their inner surfaces. These provide some of the earliest evidence of the
consumption of wine in ancient societies. Grape pips dating from the 7th to
the 5th millennium BC found at the same site also suggest the very early
cultivation of vineyards in ancient Georgia.
Both locally produced and imported vessels were found in the graves at Vani;
often side by side within the same grave. The inclusion of an imported vessel
in a burial would indicate the wealth and status of the deceased.
Imports such as Attic kantharoi (drinking vessels) provide evidence of active
commerce with mainland Greece; while silver vessels, such as situlae (buckets)
and phialai (shallow drinking cups), show a strong stylistic connection from
Persia. These vessels were often also made of precious materials, such as gold
Objects of this kind, found in graves, provide valuable information about
local wine drinking practices. For example, the absence of larger containers,
such as kraters, commonly used for mixing wine with water, suggests that wine
was served in the Persian, rather than the Greek, manner; undiluted and in smaller situlae.
Wine vessels were also found in religious contexts at Vani. Examples include amphorae found in a small sanctuary near the city gate and in the sanctuary dedicated to viticulture and (by the Hellenistic period) to Dionysos.