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What a difference 7 years makes…

2011- what a year.  We found out Hugh Grant’s middle name, your grandad pulled a muscle trying to plank, and yours truly asked a seemingly innocent question - “So where shall we go on holiday this year?”

The question was as innocent as a young fawn with a chastity belt. However, I’d forgotten I hadn’t treated my wife to a holiday for a couple of years.

“What’s one of those?”, came the loaded reply. 

I continued undaunted - “I’ve been everywhere.”

“Well I haven’t”. was the tense reply.

“What about Bulgaria?”, I said. “I’ve sold some comedy there.”

“When?”, was the very trusting response.

“In the late Eighties.”

And then without catching a breath she asked an innocent question, but one which would in fact be life changing.
“They do wine there don’t they?”

“They did.”, I said. “Loads of it in the Eighties - not sure if they still do.”

“A bit like your comedy then”, came the retort.

And so dear readers we ended up in Sofia. Just off Vitosha which was all still tram tracks then.

And stray dogs with big bollocks.


Photo by Maria Gray

We took an apartment just off the main drag, glancing menacingly at the lift which never worked during our stay as we climbed the stairs to the 5th floor.

It was over a tattoo place which specialized in inking Braveheart all over your upper arm. Quite appropriate to this Scotsman - not that he was brave enough.

We felt a little lost that first night - you know the way a moth feels when someone switches the porch and garden lights on at the same time.

02_Minkov Cycle_2.jpg

Photo by Maria Gray

The first thing we stumbled upon had the word PIZZA over the door- The Pizza Palace, which was somewhat understated as a palace.


But a couple of excellent pizzas and a bottle of Minkov Brothers Cycle Sauvignon Blanc later (a small bottle in case it wasn’t any good) and we were hooked.

“The wine isn’t half bad”, my wife said.

“Would be even better cold.”

And so began our journey of discovery into the world of Bulgarian wine.

Fast forward 7 years and we find ourselves going back home after our latest wine tour.

And what a difference in 7 years. Wine bars only serving Bulgarian wine, a huge growth in independent vineyards and the ability to serve a Sandanski Misket at the right temperature.

We find ourselves in the wine shop at the airport, being served by two sisters who look like Bulgaria’s answer to the Cheeky Girls taking a real interest in educating tourists on the country’s wine. We were almost late for our plane as we chatted to these two, such was their interest in what we thought of “their” wine.

And so it was at this point that we decided to write about our adventures with Bulgarian wine.

“What will we call the blog?” she asked.

"Spit and Swallow’s Guide to Bulgarian Wine."

"We can’t call it that."

"Why not, it’s about the two types of wine drinkers - some spit, some swallow."

"But it’s rude. We need to come up with something better!"

So dear readers, welcome to Spit and Swallow’s Guide to Bulgarian Wine

An honest blog about the wines and winemakers of Bulgaria.

© 2018 VinoZona / Tom & Maria Gray

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