Wine has been made in Bulgarian lands for millennia. But if you really want to try the best product of this ancient tradition, enter a well-stocked shop. The years of investment in technologies, specialists and vineyards have now borne fruit. The shop shelves will be replete with the bottles of nearly 300 producers whose wines cater to all tastes – from that of the client looking for a simple, yet good wine for supper to that of the connoisseur who knows the difference between Traminer and Terroir.
The act of getting to know modern Bulgarian wines can turn into a delightful adventure. The local producers make both wines from well-known varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Aligoté, Muscat Ottonel, Italian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Tamyanka and even Pinot Noir, and local varieties plus blends between the two.
The Bulgarians have never been great fans of white wine, which partially explains why most local varieties make reds. The majority of foreigners are best familiar with the broadleaved vine of Melnik: the wine is offered in every restaurant and wine cellar in Melnik, a popular tourist destination. Gamza is a variety typical of northern Bulgaria while Mavrud, one of the oldest Bulgarian varieties, is grown mainly in the areas of Plovdiv, Pazardzhik and Stara Zagora. Today, Pamid is particularly difficult to find, although in the past it was the most common local grape. Red Misket and Dimyat are used to make white wines.
At first glance, it may all sound confusing. The easiest way to get to know Bulgarian wines is by simply taking the road: wine tourism is becoming increasingly popular.