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Bulgarian traditions, wines and cuisine Print E-mail

Bulgarian Traditions

As early as 7000 years B.C., 3000 years before the Egyptians, traders from the land, now known as Bulgaria, had crossed up and down the Mediterranean. This long and winding history gave a source of not only great national pride but also an inspiration for a new national spirit. Much has perished through all these millennia, but even more has remained - a rich spiritual world which will shower you with the colours, rhythms and melodious songs of living Bulgarian folklore, the unfading beauty of Bulgarian arts and crafts, the gaiety and vivacity of Bulgarian festivals and customs, the piquant taste of Bulgarian cuisine and the delicate fragrance of Bulgarian wines.

Every national calendar is a peculiar and rigidly created system for organizing and defining the time of a year. Usually, it is divided into phases depending on the natural and agricultural cycles. The traditional Bulgarian culture shares a similar partition. The dual seasonal division of the year, which has become a commonplace after the official adoption of the Christianity and the Christian calendar, is regulated by St. George’s and The Dimitar’s days. A traditional Bulgarian saying states that Saint Dimitar brings along the winter season, and Saint George - the summer. Thus, according to those two holidays the year is divided into two comparatively closed seasonal and agricultural cycles. This traditional concept of the calendar year was used until the middle of the 20th century and was of a significant importance for the agricultural activity of the Bulgarians.

Acquiring knowledge about the traditions of celebrating some past Bulgarian customs and rites will not only give you information but also will help you get a deeper perspective on Bulgarian life and people, it will let you submerge into Bulgarian spiritual mood.  


Bulgarian Cuisine

Cuisine of Bulgaria is a special subject. The country is one of the world leaders in number of long-livers. And the reason of such high life interval is first of all the healthy food. Abundance of fruit and vegetables, delicious national dishes for which local cooks are famous, turn stay here into a gastronomic pleasures holiday.

The Bulgarian cuisine is rich in delightful and exotic dishes: Bansko-style kapama (meat and vegetables stewed in an earthenware dish), Rhodope cheverme (lamb roasted on a spit over an open fire), Thracian katmi (a special type of pancake) and Dobroudjanska banitsa, Danube fish soup and Sozopol-style mussels. You can enjoy Shopska salad and chilled grape brandy, stuffed vine leaves or peppers, kavarma the Miller's Way, monastery-style hotchpotch, moussaka and kebab in cosy Bulgarian folk-style restaurants. The air is imbued with fragrance of savoury and oven-fresh bread rolls. Cups of steaming coffee are served with sweet jam, pancakes with honey and walnuts or baklava. And each meal comes to the end with a glass of a good wine. The delicate white wines Dimyat, Misket and Riesling are followed by full reds such as Merlot, Cabernet and Gamza.


Bulgarian Wines

Wine has been known in the land of Bulgaria since ancient times. Archaeology, folklore, and literature provide ample evidence that wine grapes have thrived in these lands ever since the late Stone Age. Grape growing and wine making were vital to the way of life of the Thracians, Romans, Greeks, Slavs and Bulgarians.

Today, grape growing and wine making play a crucial role in the country's economy. The wine industry accounts for a considerable part of the gross domestic product. In addition, the industry contributes to the steady development of rural regions and infertile areas, maintains the ecological balance and encourages the appropriate and efficient use of the country's resources. Moreover, the industry preserves the regional diversity and the cultural traditions. Finally, grape growing and wine making secure steady employment and boost the country's credible image.

The importance of the wine and vine-growing industry for the country is evidenced by the fact that the first Wine Law enacted as early as 1879, shortly after the country's liberation, when the reinstated Bulgarian state was still in its infancy, and the First Bulgarian Constitution was not adopted yet. The Wine Law of 1978 played an important role in establishing the country as a world wine-growing authority. In the late 1970s Bulgaria ranked fourth in wine production in the world.

A new Wine and Spirits Act was passed in 1999. It is a modern legislative act designed to establish a system of economic, social and legal measures for the development and advancement of vine-growing and wine-making as well as for the establishment of the industry as a major agricultural industry in the country. The purpose of the 1999 Legal Act is to stimulate the production of quality and regional wines by the efficient use of the country's resources and intensive advanced technology.
According to historic and archeological researches the territory presently occupied by the state of Bulgaria may well be the first geographical region where vines were planted and wine produced. The same area may claim property to the first vine protection decree in 2 c. AD as well as to the first prohibitionist laws implemented in history by the Bulgarian Chan Krum during his reign from 802 to 814 AD. The wine cellar may also be Bulgarian invention since Bulgarian monastic orders had first been reported to have stored wine in cool vaults deep under the ground level.

Wine making traditions have endured during the Middle Ages and the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. After the liberation from the Ottoman yoke wine making prospered. The economic progress after the Liberation laid the foundations of Bulgarian vinology. Fine wineries evolved such as Sjarovi Brothers for example. As a whole, however, Bulgaria continued the traditions of South and East European wine making, producing light, often over oxidized wines for immediate consumption.
During the time behind the "Iron Curtain" wine making was consolidated, monopolized, and turned into a state industry. Its target market, however, was restricted to the "Eastern Block" in the framework of the UEP ( Union of Economic Partnership) of the socialist countries and standards remained low.

In the 80's Vinprom, the state owned wine company slowly opened up to western markets. Since then, and especially after the fall of the communist government Bulgarian wine has been growing in popularity and is making its own niche on Western and World markets.The delicate white wines Dimyat, Misket and Riesling are followed by full reds such as Merlot, Cabernet and Gamza.

Traditionally, five areas specializing on wine-making are marked out in Bulgaria. Thus, the south of Bulgaria is known for red wines, and the north—for white wines. Melnik is the smallest of Bulgaria regions specializing on viniculture. It is known for its unique microclimate.

Together with France, Spain, Italy and Greece, Bulgaria is one of the world's leaders of wine-making. The Bulgarian white and red wines such as Gumza, Dimyat, Pamid, Muscat, Misket, Mavrud and Melnik are well known to connoisseurs.