Khantsi - Gastro Obscura


Grab life by the Georgian wine horn.

In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, celebrants don’t just raise their glasses for a toast. Instead, they might lift a goat’s or ram’s horn brimming with wine. Called a khantsi, this ornate vessel is a traditional feature of the formal dinner feast known as a supra. Adorned with silver cuffing and a chain, the horn’s presentation encourages users to display it on their wall, or—in an earlier era—hang it from their sword belts.

Georgia has a long history of winemaking, dating back to 6,000 B.C. Vintners still make the culture’s signature cloudy wine in ancient earthen pots called qvevri. Khantsi are meant to hold this highly revered local specialty on festive occasions, where celebrants pour healthy doses into their khantsi to perform toasts.

After toasting with a khantsi, you must drink the vessel’s entire contents before setting it down or risk a spill. (Since the horn can’t stand on its own, it must be laid on its side.) As such, many drinkers opt for a smaller horn and, thus, a smaller serving size. And while you likely won’t find a khantsi full of beer (often considered inappropriate), you might encounter a horn full of brandy—another specialty made using local grapes.

Just remember: You can’t set it down until it’s empty, so going big might mean going home shortly thereafter.

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