Episode 481 of I’ll Drink to That! features Zorik Gharibian of the Zorah winery in Armenia. The episode is based on a recording that occurred before the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but foreshadowing of that conflict is present in several moments.
Each year scientists discover new evidence of ancient winemaking and redraw the boundaries of what we know about our human history with wine. And each year vintners reclaim areas that have gone unplanted for years. Both chapters of the story of wine are expanding: prelude and present. This interview with Zorik Gharibian addresses both and serves as a meditation on what wine has meant to humans at different times. Zorik speaks of the Areni-1 cave, a site for winemaking dating back over six thousand years. In that era, wine was a part of sacrifices to spiritual authority. Of propitiation. He also discusses an isolated mountain vineyard, hidden from invaders, and grapes grown there as a concealed store of potential nourishment in times of distress. Wine as preservation. And he talks of reclaiming his cultural roots by reclaiming vineyard areas in rural Armenia. Wine as connection. While a cycle of strife and conflict only repeats through millennia, our concept of what sustains us repeatedly changes.
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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine