Wine and Drink in Bulgaria
Find out about the different Bulgarian wines; their classifications, different grape varieties and the regional specialities...
The history of wine production in Bulgaria goes back to Thracian times. More recently, the mass production of wine that took place under the Soviet era has given way to a production of a higher quality product, and Bulgarian wine is gaining a reputation throughout the world.
Wine Growing Regions
There are five distinct wine producing regions in Bulgaria, each has a distinctly different climate lending itself to the development of different varieties.
- The Danubian Plain in north Bulgaria
- The Black Sea Coast on the east
- Rose Valley (Sub-Balkan region)
- The Thracian Plains in the south
- The Struma Valley in the south west
The wine produced in the north is particularly known for its Gamza, a light red table wine. It also grows well-known varieties, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Black Sea Coast
Over half of the vines used in the production of Bulgarian wine are grown in this region as the climate is particularly suited to the production of sweeter white wines. Thirty percent of Bulgarian vineyards are located here, in particular in the areas of Targovishte, Preslav and Strandja. Some of the most well-know Black Sea wines are the local Dimyat and Misket, also Traminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer.
Situated south of Stara Planina and north of Plovdiv, this small wine-growing region is also renowned for its rose essence. Most of the wines produced are dry whites and the region is particularly well-known for its Misket grape variety that grows better here than anywhere else in Bulgaria.
The region starts just south of Stara Planina and spreads to the Maritsa river and Sakar mountain range and has a hot and dry climate. The Bessa Valley has a history of wine making that goes back to the times of the Thracian tribes, 500 BC. The most famous Bulgarian wine, the mavroud is produced here as well as merlot, pamid, cabernet-sauvignon and muscatel.
Only six percent of all Bulgarian vineyards can be found in this region, however, it has a reputation for producing some of the best wines in the country. The famous melnik (Shiroka Melnishka Roza) is produced here, a wine conserved in trogdolyte caves that improves over time. Other grape varieties grown here include the keratzouda, which is grown in the village of Kresna, between Blagoevgrad and Sandanski. The region also produces merlot and cabernet-sauvignon.
A wine known as No Man's Land is also produced here, from vines that grow in the once forbidden frontier zone that separates Bulgaria and Greece.
One of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Bulgaria is the fruit brandy rakia (?????) - a grappa-style liquor. A number of different varieties exist, made from grapes, plums, peaches, apples, figs, cherries, apricots, quince or mulberry. It has an alcohol content of around 40 percent, however, home-made varieties can be 60 percent or even more.
Drunk from special, small classes, rakia is traditionally served in Bulgaria with pickled vegetables and shopska salad.
Beer in Bulgaria was practically unknown before the liberation of Bulgaria in the late 19th century. Bulgaria now produces quite a number of beers; many of the breweries are owned by foreign beer companies.
Popular Bulgarian beers include Zagorka, Kamenitza, Astika, Shumensko, Plevensko, Stolichno, Pirinsko and Burgasko.