Many Westerners who know a bit about wine talk about the wine itself and the processes to make it using specific language. We all understand what words like ‘cellar’ mean.
So, when you start to get interested in Georgian wine, a lot of the terms feel unfamiliar – like ‘marani’.
Put simply, a marani is a cellar. But it’s a lot more than just a place wine is stored. To many Georgians, they are semi-sacred places. They’re even covered in the UNESCO listing of Georgian winemaking as a form of Intangible Cultural Heritage. They say of the marani: “[they] are still considered the holiest place in the family home.”
But aside from the ritualistic, spiritual symbolism of the marani, how does it practically differ from a typical wine cellar?
The most striking difference is that all the wine vessels – the qvevri – are buried underground, compared to the ranks of tanks or huge wine barrels you’d see above ground in the standard cellar.
The marani is such an integral part of Georgian wine culture, that when one winemaker brought qvevri winemaking to the UK in an experiment with Plumpton College, he named it Henry’s Marani.
You can find out more about this UK marani here, and the British Qvevri project here and here.