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No visit to Bulgaria is complete without tasting some of the country’s best wines. Even if you have planned a city trip to Sofia and you don’t have time to go on a wine tour, you can still have a rich wine experience. Here are the best places, events, and wines to include on your self-guided wine tour of the Bulgarian capital.
You can taste Cabernet, Merlot or Chardonnay almost anywhere in the world, so why not focus on the local grape varietals? There are many types of wine that can only be found only in Bulgaria. If you are a white wine lover, look for Dimyat or Misket (a type of Muscat). Red wine aficionados should ask for Pamid, Gamza, Mavrud, and the Melnik varietals Broad-Leaf Melnik and Early Melnik. Although Sofia is not a separate wine region, it is where you can find the richest wine culture with the biggest number of wine venues and events.
Vino Orenda Wine Shop is the first wine shop in Sofia to sell only Bulgarian wine. Since opening in 2012, the owners have become very well known for their knowledge of wines. The shop organizes themed wine tastings where you can meet Bulgaria’s winemakers and learn about local grape varietals and wine techniques. Despite its small area, Vino Orenda has a selection of more than 300 local wines.
CASAVINO is a wine shop chain with several locations in Sofia and Varna where you will find a selection of Bulgarian and foreign wines. You get a 10% discount if you get six or more bottles of wine.
Grape Central is the perfect spot for a lazy Saturday brunch or for a glass of wine after work. The cozy restaurant and wine bar situated on the quiet Tsar Samuil Street is a stone’s throw away from the busy central Vitosha Boulevard and has more than 300 wines on its list, and usually has ten wines offered by the glass every month.
Izbata is a cellar-like restaurant located in a quiet street in the center of Sofia where you can try European cuisine and chef’s specialties accompanied by Bulgarian wines. In the summer, you can enjoy your meal in the restaurant’s cool garden.
Vino Orenda Wine Shop and Grape Central both have a lot of wine tastings, so keep an eye on their Facebook pages for upcoming events.
But the single biggest wine event for the year is Discover.Vino World (previously known as DiVino Taste). It takes place every spring in Sofia and draws hundreds of winemakers from Bulgaria and abroad. The entrance ticket usually lets the visitors taste 300+ wines, meet wine experts, and join lectures.
You can also venture out of the city and organize a one or two-day wine tour, visiting wine cellars around Sofia. For example, Melnik, 125 mi (200 km) south of Sofia, is the most popular wine town in Bulgaria with several excellent wineries in the surrounding area. Public transportation to the town is not convenient, so the best options are renting a car and exploring the area yourself or joining an organized wine tour.