I have often been asked: “Does one have to be a wine expert in order to go on a wine
tour?”. I am sure that many people have asked themselves this question and perhaps it is
because of asking it that they didn’t go on a wine tour. I hope that after reading this
article you will be convinced in the answer I give – “No, you don’t have to be a wine
expert to go on a wine tour.”
Undoubtedly, the main element in a wine tour is visiting wineries and/or wine events and
festivals where one tastes different wines. But just like in gastronomy, where you don’t
have to a master chef in order to enjoy food, during a wine tasting you don’t have to be
an expert in order to enjoy this beverage.
In fact, wine is much more than a beverage. Since ancient times, people inhabiting lands
suitable for viticulture have considered wine a divine drink. Wine has been an inseparable
part of their rituals. In more contemporary times, the consumption of wine is inevitably
associated with community, because wine is to be shared, during celebrations, during
romance…all positive emotions. Do you have to be an expert to feel positive emotions?
Just like wine is much more than a beverage, wine tourism is much more than simply
tasting wines. Yes, tasting wines is the focus of the trip, but a wine tour contains many
more elements outside of the tasting itself.
Visiting a winery, you leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind and usually find
yourself in a rural region – perhaps an area you have never visited before? Gorgeous
views (and Bulgaria has many of those) are on display on the way to the winery. And
what about the views upon arrival at the winery? A sea of vineyards, beautiful in every
season, that make your heart skip a beat and makes you dream about being presented
with this view every day. If nothing else, pulling out your phone or camera to take a
photo is guaranteed.
Unlike some other types of tourism, wine tourism offers direct contact with the people
who are involved in actual production, in this case – of wine. These people are the
vineyard managers and the winemakers or the owners. Wine tourism in Bulgaria still has
that intimate feel which developed wine tourism destinations probably also had in the
starting stage of wine tourism. It is usually the owners or winemakers or vineyard
managers, who are the ones who welcome you into a Bulgarian winery. They are the
people for whom the winery is a passion, a way of life, a means of sustenance. There is
nothing better than hearing first-hand the incredible story of the winery, the joys and
sorrows during harvest, the difficult decisions and experiments during winemaking.
There is nothing better than learning details about winemaking and the specifics of the
wines tasted straight from the people who make wine for a living.
One of the keys to the answer of the question I posed at the beginning is hidden here.
No, it is not necessary to be a wine expert to go on a wine tour. But, yes, it will be more
interesting for you if you are curious. Owners, winemakers, vineyard managers happily
answer questions, demonstrate and discuss all matters related to wine and wine tasting.
They are happy to share a piece of their art – growing healthy grapes and making high-
quality wine. Often, even the wine experts learn something new after a winery visit. In
this sense, wine tourism is also educational – at the end of the day you have learned
Learning something new during a wine tour often is not confined to just finding out
something unknown about wine. Everything in wine is a story. The location of the
vineyards and the winery, the winery’s name, the names of the brands, the labels and the
stories behind them…
A number of wineries have stayed true to the Thracian origins of winemaking in Bulgaria
through their brand names or labels that tell ancient legends and stories. And there are so
many stories that Bulgaria can tell. Is there anything better than hearing these stories
while enjoying a glass of wine?
Just like wine is a social beverage that is consumed in a community, wine has a good
friend – food! Having food on a wine tour is inevitable. Be it tasty appetizers from local
cheeses and cold cuts, which you cannot find in a supermarket or a delicious wine-paired
lunch/dinner – you will not leave on an empty stomach.
The feeling at the end of a wine tour is bliss. You have enjoyed beautiful landscapes,
visited new places, had interesting conversations, learned something new, met new
friends, ate local food…
Did you notice that we still haven’t talked about the wine itself? All the above-mentioned
things were experiences that happened to you because of the wine and the fact that you
decided to go on a wine tour.
Now, add to all that the enjoyment from tasting high-quality wines, as well as the pleasant
feeling after you have had a few sips. The feeling that makes your face tickle and feel as if
you are constantly smiling. Sure, perhaps not each wine was to your taste. Sure, perhaps
you didn’t feel all the aromas and flavors described by the winemaker. This is the case
because the feeling for wine, just like the feeling of happiness, is subjective. So, give
yourself a sip of happiness by going on a wine tour, because in order to be happy, you
don’t need to be an expert in anything at all…
About the author
Vasil Zlatev, together with his wife Zina, are the co-founders of the first specialized wine tour operator in
Bulgaria – Бългерия Уайн Турс (https://bulgariawinetours.com). Vasil and Zina’s mission is to show
the richness of Bulgarian wine, history, traditions, food and nature through carefully planned wine tours
around the country.