Habits & Customs
If you are lucky enough to be invited to a supra (feast – literally ‘tablecloth’), you’ll need to understand the basic etiquette of these festive events. While strictly speaking the word supra applies to any meeting where food and drink are consumed, it’s likely that foreign guests will experience the full works, which usually means staggering amounts to eat and drink. A selection of cold dishes will be followed by two or three hot courses as well as some kind of dessert. Make sure you try everything, as much to temper the onslaught of concomitant alcohol as to keep your hosts happy.
Bear in mind that Georgians toast only their enemies with beer – wine or spirits are the only drinks to toast your friends with. However, you should only drink when someone proposes a toast. This can be a surprisingly serious, lengthy and poetic matter, even at small gatherings of three or four friends. Larger gatherings will have a designated tamada (toastmaster), and some complex supras will involve an alaverdi, a second man whose role it is to elaborate on the toast, while a merikipe is there to pour the wine. If you are toasted, do not reply immediately but wait for others to add their wishes before simply thanking them – you should wait some time and then ask the tamada if you can make a toast in reply.