Armenian cuisine includes the foods and cooking techniques of the Armenian people, the Armenian Diaspora and traditional Armenian foods and dishes. The cuisine reflects the history and geography where Armenians have lived as well as incorporating outside influences. The cuisine also reflects the traditional crops and animals grown and raised in areas populated by Armenians.
The preparation of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes in an Armenian kitchen requires stuffing, frothing, and pureeing.Lamb, eggplant, and bread (lavash) are basic features of Armenian cuisine. Armenians use cracked wheat (bulgur) in preference to the maize and rice popular among their Transcaucasian neighbors of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Armenian cuisine belongs to the family of Caucasian cuisines, and has strong ties with Turkish cuisine, Georgian cuisine, Persian cuisine, and Levantine cuisine in general. Historically, there have been mutual influences with all of the above-listed cuisines, though the exact nature of the influences is nebulous due to the dearth of research, political and nationalistic tensions, and the close co-habitation of the Armenian, Turkish, and Iranian people during the past seven centuries.
In addition, the Armenian Genocide of 1915, with the ensuing large-scale transplantation of the survivors to the West, has further muddied the evidence.
Nevertheless, certain qualities may generally be taken to characterize Armenian cuisine:
The flavor of the food relies on the quality and freshness of the ingredients rather than on excessive use of spices.
Fresh herbs are used extensively, both in the food and as accompaniments. Dried herbs are used in the winter, when fresh herbs are not available.
Wheat is the primary grain and is found in a variety of forms, such as: whole wheat, shelled wheat, bulgur (parboiled cracked wheat), semolina, farina, and flour. Historically, rice was used mostly in the cities especially in areas with a large Turkish population and in certain rice-growing areas e.g., Marash and the region around Yerevan.
Legumes are used liberally, especially chick peas, lentils, white beans, and kidney beans.
Nuts are used both for texture and to add nutrition to Lenten dishes. Of primary usage are walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, but also hazelnuts, pistachios (in Cilicia), and nuts from regional trees.
Fresh and dried fruit are used both as main ingredients and as sour agents. As main ingredients, the following fruit are used: apricots fresh and dried, quince, melons, and others. As sour agents, the following fruits are used: sumac berries in dried, powdered form, sour grapes, plums either sour or dried, pomegranate, apricots, cherries - especially sour cherries, and lemons.
In addition to grape leaves, cabbage leaves, chard, beet leaves, radish leaves, strawberry leaves, and others are also stuffed.
There are two de facto national dishes in Armenian cuisine.
Harissa is a porridge made of wheat and meat cooked together for a long time, originally in the tonir but nowadays over a stove. Harissa is related to the Turkish keshkeg, the Indo-Pakistani haleem, and several similar dishes. Traditionally, harissa was prepared on feast days in communal pots and served to all comers.
The wheat used in harissa is typically shelled (pelted) wheat, though in Adana, harissa is made with ground, par-boiled shelled wheat, similar to bulgur. Either lamb, beef, or chicken is used as the harissa meat.
Khash, which started off as a laborer's meal, consists of beef or lamb feet that have been slow-cooked overnight in water.
It is eaten at breakfast over crumbled dried lavash bread, with crushed garlic and liberal portions of vodka or spirits. Khash is typically eaten in winter. Variations of khash from the Van region supplement the beef feet with various organ meats, such as heart, tongue, etc., as well as chick peas or other legumes. A vegetarian version of khash replaces the meat with lentils. This version is also served over crumbled dry lavash but is topped with fried onions.
Dolma is a traditional Armenian dish of minced meat wrapped by grape leaves. Some sources may mistakenly refer it as a Turkish.
The daily Armenian dish is the dzhash. This is a brothy stew consisting of meat or a legume, in the meatless version, a vegetable, and spices. The dzhash was typically cooked in the tonir. The dzhash is generally served over a pilaf of rice or bulgur, sometimes accompanied by bread, pickles or fresh vegetables or herbs. A specific variety of dzhash is the porani, a stew made with yoghurt, of possibly Persian origin. Examples of dzhash are:
Meat and green beans or green peas (with tomato sauce, garlic, and mint or fresh dill)
Meat and summer squash or zucchini. This is a signature dish from Ainteb, and is characterized by the liberal use of dried mint, tomatoes, and lemon juice.
Meat and pumpkin. This is a wedding dish from Marash made with meat, chick peas, pumpkin, tomato and pepper paste, and spices.
Meat and leeks in a yoghurt sauce.
Urfa-style porani, made with small meatballs, chickpeas, chard, and desert truffles.
Grilled meats (kabobs) are quite common as well and are omnipresent at market stalls, where they are eaten as fast food, as well as at barbecues and picnic. Also, in modern times, no Armenian banquet is considered complete without an entree of kabob. Kabobs vary from the simple (marinated meat on a skewer interspersed with vegetables) to the more elaborate. Certain regions in Western Armenia developed their local, specialized kabobs. For example, we have
Urfa kabob, spiced ground meat interspersed with eggplant slices.
Orukh and khanum budu, two Cilician specialties in which lean ground meat is kneaded with dough and spices and lined on a skewer.
Stuffed dishes are usually served on festive occasions, as they take quite a bit of time to prepare. Almost any vegetable or cut of meat is a candidate for stuffing. Examples are:
Grape leaves, cabbage leaves, chard leaves, beet greens, strawberry leaves, or other edible large leaves
Tomatoes, peppers, squash/zucchini, eggplants, pumpkins, onions, potatoes
Melons, apples, quince, apricots, dates
Lamb breast (or rack of lamb), lamb intestines, lamb or beef lungs
Typically, the stuffing consists of rice or bulgur, mixed with ground meat, seasonings, and sometimes dried fruits and nuts. Vegetarian stuffings follow the same pattern but replace the meat with a variety of pulses and legumes.
A common dish of Armenian cuisine is pilaf yeghints. Pilaf is a seasoned rice, bulgur, or shelled wheat dish often served with meats such as lamb or beef. Many pilafs especially in Western Armenian cuisine, are made with vermicelli in addition to the rice or wheat. Pilafs can also include meats, vegetables, and/or dried fruits to make them more substantial,similar to the Indian biryani).
Rice pilaf with dried fruits is part of the Eastern Armenian Christmas Eve tradition. Pilaf made with bulgur and liver is a specialty of Zeitoun (Cilicia, Western Armenia).
Spices and herbs
Armenian cuisine uses spices sparingly but instead relies on the use of fresh herbs.
The primary spices used in Armenian cuisine are salt, garlic, red pepper (particularly Aleppo pepper, which is a spicier variety of paprika), dried mint (in Western Armenia), cumin, coriander, sumac (the powdered dried berry of the Mediterranean sumac bush), cinnamon, cloves, Mahleb (the powdered pit of the black cherry).
The types of herbs used in cuisine are strongly influenced by region. In Eastern Armenia, the following fresh herbs are used liberally: dill, Parsley, Tarragon, Basil, Oregano (particularly wild oregano), Thyme. In Western Armenia, the preferred herbs are: mint, Parsley, Basil, Tarragon, Thyme, and savory.
Throughout the country, local herbs are used as well. Many of the herbs that Western Armenians have used have fallen out of use because of lack of availability. In the Republic of Armenia, and particularly in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), aveluk (Rumex crispus), chrchrok (a water grass similar to water cress), and other herbs are all used.
In addition to the above, various scents and attars commonly used in the Middle-East are also used in the making of sweets; for example, rose water and orange blossom water.
Like all cuisines, Armenian cuisine was influenced by the cuisine of its neighbors, as well as by the availability of "exotic" ingredients.
The introduction into Cilicia and Aleppo, in the late 18th Century, of tomato revolutionized the Armenian cuisine of Cilicia. Dishes that used to be prepared with dried fruits started being prepared with tomato. The spread of tomato into the region can be quite clearly traced: essential in the cuisine of Cilicia and many large cities, it is rarely used in the cuisine of Van and Vaspurakan.
Other important imports are peppers and potatoes. The latter, according to tradition, was imported into Armenia from India by an Armenian Catholicos in the 18th Century. Other imports include spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
More problematic is the understanding of the influence of other cuisines on Armenian cuisine. Specifically, the influences between Turkish (Ottoman) and Armenian cuisines requires more research. Because Armenians and Turks lived in close proximity for 600 years, the influences must have been many.
However, due to a general unavailability of sources, the destruction of many manuscripts during the Armenian Genocide, and the present-day unwillingness of many Turkish scholars to acknowledge any contributions by Armenians to Turkish history and culture, the matter remains unresolved.
In addition, because of Ottoman laws forbidding Armenians from speaking Armenian, many Western Armenian dishes bear Turkish names (e.g., gharnuh yarukh, khanum budu, chi keufteh, etc.).
Being located in a predominantly Muslim region may have affected Armenian cuisine in other ways as well. In Western Armenian cuisine, pork is almost never used for cooking. In the Republic of Armenia, pork was re-introduced during the Soviet era and is now quite common.
The modern Armenian breakfast consists of coffee or tea, plus a spread of cheeses, jams, jellies, eggs, and breads. Armenians living in the Diaspora often adopt local customs. Thus, Armenians in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt may include "fool" (stewed fava beans in olive oil).
Traditional Armenian breakfast dishes were hearty. They included:
Khash (which is still eaten on cold winter mornings in the Republic of Armenia)
Kalagyosh: There are many variants of this dish. It can be a meat and yogurt stew or it can be a vegetarian stew made with lentils, fried onions, and matzoon.
In either case, it was traditionally eaten by crumbling stale lavash bread over it and eating it with a spoon.
Meals in Armenia often start with a spread of appetizers served for "the table".
Various cheeses, such as Chechil (tel panir) – braided and pickled string cheese, similar to Georgian sulguni, also chanakh, lori, yeghegnadzor and others made from sheep or cow's milk.
Topik or topig is a large vegetarian stuffed "meatball".
Countless stuffed vegetables, usually vegetarian.
Pickles: cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes (ripe and unripe), cauliflower, carrots, grapes, garlic, etc.
Grain and herb salads
Bread dough or phyllo dough pastries called byoreks (boereg). These are either baked or fried.
Bread is "de rigueur", particularly flat breads such as lavash.
Many, if not most, Armenian salads combine a grain or legume with fresh vegetables—often tomato, onions, and fresh herbs. Mayonnaise is used in Western or Russian-inspired salads (e.g., Salade Olivier). Examples of Armenian salads include
Eetch – cracked wheat salad, similar to the Middle Eastern tabouleh.
Lentil salad – brown lentils, tomatoes, onions, in a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped parsley. This salad has many variations, with the lentils being replaced by chick peas, black-eyed peas, chopped raw or roasted eggplant, etc.
Jajukh – there are several varieties of this salad, which resembles a dip or cold soup. The cucumber jajukh is made with diced cucumbers in a matzoon/garlic sauce. The Swiss chard version is made with blanched, chopped chard in a thick "sauce" of drained matzoon and garlic. This salad is traditionally served on Easter Eve. The Lenten version of this (called "ajem jajukh") substitutes tahini, lemon juice, and a little tomato sauce for the drained yogurt.
Typical homemade byorek, with meat, caramelized onion and bell pepper filling
Byoreks, are pies made with phyllo pastry and stuffed with cheese (panirov byorek, from Armenian: panir for cheese, Eastern Armenians refer to this as Khachapuri) or spinach (similar to spanakopita in Greek cuisine). They are a popular snack and fast food, often served as appetizer. Su byorek lit. 'water burek' (from Turkish word Su Boregi) is a lasagna-style dish with sheets of phyllo pastry briefly boiled in a large pan before being spread with fillings. Msov byorek is a bread roll (not phyllo pastry) stuffed with ground meat (similar to Russian pirozhki).
Semsek, from the region of Urfa, is a fried open-faced meat byorek.
A specific Lenten byorek is made with spinach and tahini sauce.
Grilling (barbecue) is very popular in Armenia, and grilled meats are often the main course in restaurants and at family gatherings. Grilled meat is also a fast food.
Khorovats or khorovadz – the Armenian word for barbecued or grilled meats (the generic kebab in English), the most representative dish of Armenian cuisine enjoyed in restaurants, family gatherings, and as fast food. A typical khorovats is chunks of meat grilled on a skewer (shashlik), although steaks or chops grilled without skewers may be also included.
In Armenia itself, khorovats is often made with the bone still in the meat as lamb or pork chops. Western Armenians outside Armenia generally cook the meat with bones taken out and call it by the Turkish name shish kebab. On the other hand, the word kebab in Armenia refers to uncased sausage-shaped patties from ground meat grilled on a skewer called losh kebab or lule kebab by diasporan Armenians and Turks. In Armenia today, the most popular meat for khorovats including losh kebab is pork due to Soviet-era economic heritage. Armenians outside Armenia usually prefer lamb or beef depending on their background, and chicken is also popular.
Gharsi khorovats – slivers of grilled meat rolled up in lavash, similar to the Middle Eastern shawarma and the Turkish doner kebab; this "shashlik Ghars style" takes its name from the city of Kars or Armenian: Ghars in eastern Turkey, close to the Armenian border.
Armenian soups include spas, made from matzoon, hulled wheat and herbs (usually cilantro),and aveluk, made from lentils, walnuts, and wild mountain sorrel (which gives the soup its name). Kiufta soup is made with large balls of strained boiled meat (kiufta) and greens.
Another soup, khash, is considered an Armenian institution. Songs and poems have been written about this one dish, which is made from cow's feet and herbs made into a clear broth. Tradition holds that khash can only be cooked by men, who spend the entire night cooking, and can be eaten only in the early morning in the dead of winter, where it served with heaps of fresh garlic and dried lavash.
T'ghit is a very special and old traditional food, made from t'tu lavash (fruit leather, thin roll-up sheets of sour plum purée),which are cut into small pieces and boiled in water. Fried onions are added and the mixture is cooked into a purée. Pieces of lavash bread are placed on top of the mixture, and it is eaten hot with fresh lavash used to scoop up the mixture by hand.
Karshm is a local soup made in the town of Vaik in the Vayots Dzor Province. This is a walnut based soup with red and green beans, chick peas and spices, served garnished with red pepper and fresh garlic.Soups of Russian heritage include borscht, a beet root soup with meat and vegetables (served hot in Armenia, with fresh sour cream) and okroshka, a matzoon or kefir based soup with chopped cucumber, green onion, and garlic.
Arganak – chicken soup with small meatballs, garnished before serving with beaten egg yolks, lemon juice, and parsley.
Blghourapour – a sweet soup made of hulled wheat cooked in grape juice; served hot or cold.
Bozbash – a mutton or lamb soup that exists in several regional varieties with the addition of different vegetables and fruits.
Brndzapour – rice and potato soup, garnished with coriander.
Dzavarapour – hulled wheat, potatoes, tomato purée; egg yolks diluted with water are stirred into the soup before serving.
Flol – beef soup with coarsely chopped spinach leaves and cherry-sized dumplings made from oatmeal or wheat flour.
Harissa – porridge of coarsely ground wheat with pieces of boned chicken
Katnapour – a milk-based rice soup, sweetened with sugar.
Katnov – a milk-based rice soup with cinnamon and sugar.
Kololak – soup cooked from mutton bones with ground mutton dumplings, rice, and fresh tarragon garnish; a beaten egg is stirred into the soup before serving.
Krchik – soup made from sauerkraut, pickled cabbage, hulled wheat, potatoes, and tomato puree.
Mantapour – beef soup with manti; the manti are typically served with matzoon or sour cream (ttvaser), accompanied by clear soup.
Matsnaprtosh - this is the same as okroshka, referenced earlier, with sour clotted milk diluted with cold water, with less vegetation than okroshka itself. Matsnaprtosh is served cold as a refreshment and supposedly normalizes blood pressure.
Putuk – mutton cut into pieces, dried peas, potatoes, leeks, and tomato puree, cooked and served in individual crocks.
Sarnapour – pea soup with rice, beets and matzoon.
Snkapur – a mushroom soup.
Tarkhana – flour and matzoon soup
Vospapour – lentil soup with dried fruits and ground walnuts.
Pekhapour (mustache soup) – chick peas, shelled wheat, lentils, in a vegetarian broth and fresh tarragon. This soup originates from Aintab.
For a relatively land-locked country, Armenian cuisine includes a surprising number of fish dishes. Typically, fish is either broiled, fried, or sometimes poached. A few recipes direct the fish to be stuffed. Fish may have been used to stuff vegetables in ancient times, though that is not common anymore.
There are several varieties of fish in the Republic of Armenia:
Ishkhan – Sevan trout (endangered species), served steamed, grilled on a skewer, or stuffed and baked in the oven
Sig – a whitefish from Lake Sevan, native to northern Russian lakes (endangered species in Armenia)
Karmrakhayt (alabalagh) – a river trout, also produced in high-altitude artificial lakes (e.g., the Mantash Reservoir in Shirak Province).
Koghak – an indigenous Lake Sevan fish of the carp family, also called Sevan khramulya (overfished)
Fasulya (fassoulia) – a stew made with green beans, lamb and tomato broth or other ingredients
Ghapama – pumpkin stew
Kchuch – a casserole of mixed vegetables with pieces of meat or fish on top, baked and served in a clay pot
Tjvjik – a dish of fried liver and kidneys with onions
Armenian basturma, or apukht
Basturma – a highly seasoned, air-dried raw beef, similar to bindenfleisch. The residents of Karin, modern name Erzurum were known to be proficient in the making of this delicacy.
Yershig – a spicy beef sausage (called sujuk in Turkey)
Kiufta – meaning meatball comes in many types, such as Hayastan kiufta, Kharpert kiufta (Porov kiufta), Ishli kiufta, etc.
Tehal is potted meat preserved in its own fat.
Dairies form an important part of the Armenian diet, especially in the cold winter months where, in past times, the only available vegetables were dried or pickled.
Yogurt and yogurt-derived products are of particular importance in the cuisine. In past times, villagers made a distinction between different types of yogurt, such as the yogurt made with the first milk of spring, etc. From yogurt is made tahn, a refreshing drink made from yogurt, water, and salt.
Yogurt is also strained and, thus prepared, may be used as a dip or mixed with broth in soups or stews (since the strained yogurt does not curdle as easily as plain yogurt). As a mean of long-term preservation, yogurt was also strained, formed into balls that were allowed to dry in the sun. This preparation is known as ("dry" yogurt) and is a relative of the Iranian Kashk.
An interesting preparation is the use of yogurt and bulgur to make tarkhana. The bulgur is kneaded with yogurt (and sometimes dried mint), dried in the sun, then broken into pieces that are stored in jars (or, traditionally, cloth sacks that were hung from the rafters). The preserved product could then be used in the winter to make soup or stews.
Yogurt forms the base of many stews and sauces. Porani is a stew with many variants but with the common characteristic of using yogurt. Many Armenian soups are made with yogurt. Generally, rice, bulgur, or vermicelli is boiled, and yogurt, or strained yogurt, is mixed to make soup. There are of course many variants involving the addition of legumes, herbs, spices, etc. In Western Armenian cuisine, a common side dish or dip is("garlic yogurt"), made by beating raw mashed garlic and salt into yogurt.
In addition to yogurt, Armenians use all the typical dairy products, from milk itself, to milk cream, sour cream t'tvaser, etc. Clotted cream, known as serootsk, also known by the Turkish word Kaymak, is a staple of Western Armenian sweets.
Choreg at an Armenian Easter celebration
Lavash – the staple bread of Armenian cuisine
Matnakash – soft and puffy leavened bread, made of wheat flour and shaped into oval or round loaves; the characteristic golden or golden-brown crust is achieved by coating the surface of the loaves with sweetened tea essence before baking.
Choereg (or choreg) – braided bread formed into rolls or loaves, also a traditional loaf for Easter.
Zhingyalov hats - Not entirely a bread you would eat with your everyday meal. Zhingyalov hac is an Armenian dish that is made with dough, dried cranberry, pomegranate molasses,that go inside the dough, and 7 different greens which include spinach, coriander, parsley, basil, scallions, dill, mint. There is a variety of combinations that can be used in the bread and these greens can easily be substituted for other greens. The greens are placed in the bread and the bread is folded like a calzone.
Alani – pitted dried peaches stuffed with ground walnuts and sugar.
Kadaif (ghataif) – shredded dough with cream, cheese, or chopped walnut filling, soaked with sugar syrup.
Anoushabour – dried fruits stewed with barley, garnished with chopped almonds or walnuts (a traditional Christmas pudding).
Bastegh or pastegh - homemade fruit leather.
T'tu lavash – thin roll-up sheets of sour plum purée (fruit leather).
Nshkhar – bread used for Holy Communion
Mas – literally means "piece" a piece of leftover bread from the making of Nshkhar, given to worshippers after church service
Matagh – sacrificial meat. can be of any animal such as goat, lamb, or even bird.
Jermuk is a bottled mineral water originating from the town of Jermuk in Armenia, and bottled since 1951
Armenian coffee – strong black coffee, finely ground, sometimes sweet
Kefir – fermented milk drink
Kvass – sweet, fermented bread drink
Tahn – yogurt drink (still or carbonated)
Jermuk – a brand of mineral water from the Jermuk area
Hayq, Sari – a brand of bottled mountain spring water from the Jermuk area (in Armenian Hayq stands for Armenia and Sari for from the mountains).
Tarkhun soda – tarragon-flavored soda.
Beer in Armenia
Armenian produced beer is considered to be one of the favorite drinks of Armenian men. The beer industry is developing barley malt and producing beer from it. The preparation of beer in Armenia was known from ancient times. According to the Greek historian Xenophon the manufacture of beer in Armenia has begun from BC V-IV centuries. Armenians used beer grains for brewing (barley, millet, hops).
In 1913 there were 3 factories of beer, there was produced 54 thousand deciliters of beer. In 1952-78 there were built new factories in Yerevan, Goris, Alaverdi, Abovyan, existing factories expanded and technically equipped. For providing raw materials for beer production in Gyumri was launched large malt plant, based in the production of barley melt of Shirak valley farms with the capacity of 10 thousand tons of production. In 1985 was produced 6 million deciliters of beer.
Erebuni (produced by Kotayk Brewery)
Armenian brandy (Armenian: կոնյակ konyak), known locally as konyak is perhaps Armenia's most popular exported alcoholic drink. It has a long history of production. Armenian brandy made by Yerevan Wine & Brandy Factory was the favorite drink of British statesman Winston Churchill. Stalin used to send him tons of Armenian Brandy during the World War I. It was the favorite alcoholic drink for Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Churchill at the Yalta conference at 1945.
Since 1887, in the winery of Armenian merchant N. Tairov (Yerevan) Brandy production begins. In 1890-1900 Yerevan is becoming a center for the production of brandy, are based Gyozalov (1892), Saradjev (1894), Ter-Mkrtchian (1899), and other factories. In 1899, N. Tairov sold his factory to Nikolay Shustov’s well-known brand in Russia. In 1914, there were 15 factories in the province of Yerevan (the largest the one of Shustov) which produced 210010 deciliters of brandy. In 1921, was state-owned Shustov’s factory, it was renamed to “Ararat” and became the main factory in the wine manufacturing.
Despite the fact that only brandies produced in the Cognac region of France have the copyright to be called “cognac” according to Western trade rules. Armenian brandy is called cognac inside Armenia. Yerevan Wine & Brandy Factory is now negotiating for obtaining an official privilege to market its brandy as cognac.
Armenian brandy is categorized by its age and method of aging. The rated stars indicate the age of brandy since its fermentation starting from 3 stars. The most expensive cognacs have passed additional vintage for more that 6 years and have special names. The brandy is aged in oak barrels and is made from selected local white grapes grown in the Ararat Valley which is giving it a shade of caramel brown.
Oghi – an Armenian alcoholic beverage, similar to Turkish "rakı" and its distant cousin from the Balkans "rakiya", usually distilled from fruit;also called aragh. Artsakh is a well-known brand name of Armenian mulberry vodka (tuti oghi) produced in Nagorno-Karabakh from local fruit.In the Armenian Diaspora, where fruit vodka is not distilled, oghi refers to the aniseed-flavored distilled alcoholic drink called arak in the Middle East, raki in Turkey, or ouzo in Greece.
Mulberry vodka, A traditional Armenian vodka made from distilling the mulberry, which is grown all over Armenia, especially in the highlands and Artsakh.
The alcoholic drink with the longest history in Armenia is wine. One of the oldest wineries in the world was discovered in Armenia. Historically, wineries in Armenia were concentrated along the Ararat valley. Of particular note was the district of Koghtn. Today, Armenian wineries are concentrated in the Areni region (district of Vayots Dzor).
Armenian wine is mostly made from local varietals, such as Areni, Lalvari, Kakhet, etc., though some wineries mix in better known European varietals such as Chardonnay and Cabernet. Winemaking took a downward plunge in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but is undergoing a revival, with the addition of world-class labels such as Zorah Wines.
A yearly wine festival, held in Areni, is popular with the locals and features wines from official wineries as well as homemade hooch of varying quality. Armenian wines are predominantly red and are sweet, semi-sweet (Vernashen, Ijevan), or dry (Areni).
Armenian Highland engaged in winemaking since ancient times. It has achieved considerable development of Urartu times (IX - VI centuries. BC). During excavations in the castle of Teyshebaini have been found around 480, and in Toprakkale, Manazkert, Red Hill and Ererbunium 200 pot.
The evidences of high-level and large-scale wine production in Armenia are as foreign (Herodotus, Strabo, Xenophon and others) and Armenian historians of the 5th to 18th centuries, as well as sculptures of architectural monuments and protocols.
Armenia's current area began wine production in the 2nd half of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, next to the small businesses in Yerevan, Ghamarlu (Artashat), Ashtarak, Echmiadzin (Vagharshapat ), there were 4 mill.
In addition to grapes, wines have been made with other fruit, notably pomegranate, apricot, quince, etc. In some cases, these fruit wines are fortified.
Among the soft drinks Armenian mineral water is known for its healing specialty and is recommended by doctors. This spring water is originating from the depth of earth and flowing from ancient mountains in the city of Jermuk.
Armenia has rich reserves of mineral water. After the establishment of the Soviet Union the study and development of multilateral disciplines in these waters have begun. First industrial bottling was organized in Arzni, at 1927. In 1949, were put into operation Dilijan and Jermuk mineral water factories.
In 1960-1980 were launched “Sevan”, “Hankavan”, “Lichk”, “Bjni”, “Lori”, “Arpi”, “Ararat”, mineral water bottling plants and factories, which are involved in the production unit “mineral water of Armenia”. ASSR in 1985 produced 295 million bottles of mineral water.