We’re very grateful for the fact that most cultures have a set of drinking and eating rituals. Americans have beer pong and barbecues, Germans have Oktoberfest and giant maß glasses, the list goes on… All traditions have their merits, but we’ve recently discovered a Georgian drinking ritual that trumps them all.
The ‘supra’ is the cornerstone of Georgian social gatherings and is undoubtedly the mother of all wine-fueled traditions. We could spend hours writing about how badly we want to spend two weeks at supras in Georgia. After all, you can find “bierhalles” and solo cups anywhere… but where else can you devote hours to toasting and drinking wine out of extravagantly decorated ram horns? Exactly.
Just follow these steps to throw your own supra, and turn toasting into the art it deserves to be:
1) Acquire a khantsi or ceremonial drinking horn. Khantsi (that awesome thing up there) have played a role in the culture forever. It’s impossible and rude to put down a drinking horn without drinking what’s inside, which is the point. You could use regular glasses, but hey… grab life by the horns.
2) Gather ‘round a tablecloth. So you know, supra means “tablecloth.” Aside from ritual toasting and drinking, it’s pretty much the only requirement, especially if you’re skimping on the khantsi.
3) Elect a tamada or toastmaster. Since the tamada’s role is to introduce the subject of each toast, you’ll want someone who is insightful, rhetorically skilled and can make their mouth work after drinking four horns worth of wine.
4) Have the tamada and guests fill their khantsi with wine. Wine only! It’s considered a grave offense to toast with beer, no joke.
5) The tamada will propose a toast, the theme of which is totally up to him or her. A top notch tamada will be able to tailor toasts to the occasion, but topics can be just about anything.
6) Once the tamada has toasted- usually at length -guests raise their khantsi while the toastmaster drinks the contents of his/her horn. Guests should keep their khantsi elevated, but cannot drink, yet.
7) Moving counter-clockwise, each guest will add their own thoughts and insight to the topic that the toastmaster raised. This ain’t a conversation though, it’s a series of toasts on the same theme and talking out of turn is a big no no. Don’t incite the tamada’s wrath… those khantsi can be sharp.
8) Once each guest finishes their toast, they drink their khantsi. Phew. No guest has to speak, but they must at least finish their khantsi when somebody says something they dig.
9) Toast baby, toast! Following the same delicious format, the tamada will keep coming up with topics, and you’ll all keep draining your khantsi.
10) Keep in mind, toasting like this can take you places you wouldn’t have imagined. Supra have historically been used to resolve conflicts, find answers to life’s big questions and generally get everybody feelin’ real celebratory. Common topics at traditional Georgian supras include God, the motherland, philosophy, ancestors and the saints. Buuuuutttt, if you want to drink some horns and wax poetic and over Breaking Bad, nachos and indie music we won’t tell.