The echoes of ancient trade routes blended with modern technology
Azerbaijan is a republic situated approximately 7,600 km away from Japan, along the coast of the Caspian Sea. The country spans 86,600 square kilometers, about a quarter of Japan's size. With a population of 10 million, the capital is Baku. Azerbaijani is the official language, sharing similarities with Turkish and Turkmen. Azerbaijan's most striking feature lies in the contrast between the echoes of ancient trade routes and modern architecture.
History of wine
Situated in the Caucasus, often considered the birthplace of viticulture alongside Georgia, Azerbaijan has a wine history dating back to around 7,000 to 6,000 BCE. Archaeological finds include clay vessels called "qvevri." Thriving as a crucial Silk Road hub, wine production flourished in this region for millennia.
During the Soviet era, the wine industry faced a significant downturn. However, post-independence, Azerbaijan's vibrancy returned, and efforts have been poured into reviving the wine industry. Winemaking has resumed, marking a renaissance in Azerbaijan's wine culture. Cheers to the comeback!
Ganja & Lesser Caucasus
Shirvan Valley & Greater Caucasus
More than 300 grape varieties, including well-known ones like Rkatsiteli and Saperavi, along with ancient varieties, are cultivated in Azerbaijan.
While considered a native variety of Azerbaijan, there's also a theory suggesting that it originated in Armenia. Known for its large, round fruits, this grape exhibits a crisp acidity, citrusy aroma, and refreshing mineral character. Wines produced from Bayan Shirei are light, lively, and well-defined. The English name "Bayan Shirei" is used synonymously with "Bayanshira."
This variety hails from the Caucasus region and is mainly used for white wine. It's not just in Azerbaijan but also widely cultivated in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Bulgaria, and more. It's employed in the production of white wine, orange wine, and sparkling wine. Known for its aromas of green apple, citrus, quince, and peach, it boasts a nice balance of acidity and a light body. It pairs well with Lebanese, Turkish, and Indian cuisines, as well as dishes featuring eggplant.
Saperavi is Georgia's most famous red grape variety. It's not just loved in Georgia but also in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. The name Saperavi means "dyer" because its pigments permeate the flesh, giving it a deep and rich red color, perfect for long aging. It produces a full-bodied wine with abundant tannins, elevated acidity, and a spicy flavor profile, accompanied by rich aromas of dark berries, licorice, plum, and tobacco. Saperavi wines come in various styles, from sweet to dry, and even fortified wines. They pair wonderfully with pizza, BBQ, and cheesy pasta dishes.
As of the 2021 OIV data, Azerbaijan's grape cultivation area is 16,232 hectares, ranking 43rd globally. The annual wine production stands at 130,000 hectoliters (or 13 billion liters). Approximately 80% of this wine is consumed domestically, with the remaining 20% exported. On a per capita basis (calculated for individuals aged 15 and above), the annual wine consumption is 1.1 liters.