Bulgarian Wine

What Are the Local Wines in Bulgaria?

Bulgarian wine is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With a long and storied history of winemaking, Bulgaria has cultivated an impressive array of local wines that captivate the senses and delight the palate.

Among the many outstanding varietals produced in Bulgaria, some stand out as true ambassadors of the region’s winemaking prowess. For example, Mavrud and Melnik make excellent local wines. The country’s fertile soil, diverse climate, and dedication to traditional winemaking techniques have all contributed to the development of these remarkable wines.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve spent quite a bit of time in Bulgaria. To maximize our enjoyment, we conducted a fair amount of research about Bulgarian wine. We’ve compiled a summary of the information we collected below so you can start enjoying these wines as soon as you arrive!

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Bulgarian Wine Regions

A government decree in 1960 divided Bulgaria into five viticultural regions. Each region boasts its own unique terroir and grape varieties, resulting in a wide range of flavors and styles.

Danubian Plain

The Danubian Plain, also known as the North Bulgarian wine region, covers the southern banks of the Danube as well as the central and western parts of the plain. The area has a temperate continental climate, with hot summers and many sunny days throughout the year.

Common wine varieties include Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pamid, and the local Gamza.

Black Sea

The Black Sea region, also known as the East Bulgarian wine region, is home to 30% of all vineyards in Bulgaria. The area is known for its long and mild autumns, which create ideal conditions for accumulating sugars necessary for producing high-quality white wine. In fact, 53% of all white wine varieties are grown in this region.

The grapes grown in the region include Dimyat, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Ugni blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Traminer, and Gewürztraminer.

Rose Valley

The Rose Valley region is south of the Balkan Mountains. It is divided into the eastern and western subregions. The region is known for producing a variety of wines including Muscatel, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The region mainly produces dry and off-dry white wine, however, the region includes the Sungurlare Valley, which is famous for its wine made from the Red Misket grape.

Thracian Lowland

The Thracian Lowland, also known as the South Bulgarian wine region, comprises the central part of the lowland and parts of the Sakar mountain. The area has a temperate continental climate and receives favorable precipitation, making it an ideal location for red wine cultivation in the lowlands of Upper Thrace. The region is known for producing Mavrud, a famous local wine, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscatel, and Pamid.

The Balkan Mountains act as a barrier to the cold winds blowing from the plains of Russia. The region to the south of the Balkans, which is drained by the Maritsa River, has a Mediterranean climate. The winters are mild and rainy, while the summers are warm and dry.

Struma River Valley

The Struma River Valley, also known as the Southwest Bulgarian wine region, is located in the valley of the Struma River, which is part of the historical region of Macedonia. Although the area is small, it has a unique climate due to the strong Mediterranean influence from the south. The region is known for producing the local style Shiroka melnishka loza, named after Melnik, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Grape Varieties in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is home to a diverse array of grape varieties, each contributing to the unique flavors and characteristics of Bulgarian wine.

Red Grapes

Mavrud is a native Bulgarian wine


Mavrud is a native Bulgarian grape variety that is predominantly grown in the Plovdiv province. This dark-skinned grape thrives in warmer climates and is used to produce single-varietal wines and blends.

Mavrud is typically a medium-bodied wine with firm tannins, good acidity, and a deep ruby-red color. It comes off as rich and fruity, with typical aromas of prunes, ripe mulberries, or blackberries, and usually has a spicy, herbaceous finish. These wines have a similar profile to a lightly-oaked Malbec, along with a striking magenta-tinged rim.

Additionally, International Mavrud Day is an annual wine event that promotes Bulgarian wine and wine tourism on national and international levels.


Pamid is a European grape that has been grown for many centuries. It was once the most widely planted grape in Bulgaria, but it is also cultivated in other European countries. Pamid is not a demanding variety to grow, but it tends to produce wines that lack color, acidity, and sugar.

Most of the wines made from Pamid have a light, approachable character, pale ruby color, and low acidity. These wines are not meant for aging and are best enjoyed when they are still young. They are uncomplicated table wines that are fresh and fruity, and can be paired with various dishes, such as sausages, pork, or chicken.

Aya Winery Merlot and Melnik


Melnik, also known as Shiroka Melnishka Loza, is an ancient Bulgarian grape variety that grows mainly in the southwestern regions of Melnik, Petrich, and Sandanski.

This grape produces varietal wines that are rich in tannins and have notes of cherries, strawberries, and stone fruits. As the wine ages, it develops into more complex flavors like tar, leather, and spices.

Rupel Winery Melnik 55

Melnik 55

Melnik 55, also known as Ranna Melnishka Loza, is a Bulgarian grape variety that was created in the 1960s by crossing Melnik (Shiroka Melnishka Loza) with a mix of pollen from Valdiguié, Durif, and Jurançon. Later on, it was discovered that the other parent was actually Valdiguié.

Despite being created several decades ago, Bulgarian winemakers have only recently started to recognize Melnik 55’s potential. The grape is used both in varietals and blends and is known for producing ruby red wines with medium to full body and excellent aging potential.

These wines typically have aromas of red and black fruit, spices, and tobacco and pair well with red meat and charcuterie.

Lovico Winery Gamza


Gamza, also known as Kadarka, is an old Eastern European variety whose likely origin is from somewhere in the Balkans. Apart from Bulgaria and Romania, Gamza is also grown in Hungary and Serbia where it is known as Kadarka.

The wine produced from Gamza grapes is versatile and strongly influenced by the growing conditions where it is cultivated, so the character of the wine can vary. Generally, Gamza wines are light to medium-bodied, have a bright acidity, and low tannins. The aroma of Gamza wine is fruity, often with hints of spice and sometimes with subtle floral notes. The profile of Gamza wine is similar to that of Italian Barbera or Oregon Pinot Noir.

Gamza pairs perfectly with spicy meat dishes.

Karabunar Winery Rubin


Rubin is a Bulgarian grape created in the 1940s or 50s at the Institute of Viticulture and Enology in Pleven. The grape is a cross between French Syrah and Italian Nebbiolo and is a resilient grape that ripens relatively early.

The wines produced from Rubin are deep red, with flavors dominated by red and black berries. The wines will often have earthy, floral (violet), and jammy character. Rubin is often blended with Mavrud to add structure, color, and body. Although it is mainly used in blends, varietal examples are becoming more common. They usually have good aging potential, and during maturation, they attain woody and vanilla-like aromas while the tannins become softer much like an aged Italian Nebbiolo.

Rubin-based wines pair well with rich, intensely flavored dishes, such as stews, red meat, or charcuterie.

Zlaten Rozhen Winery Melnishki Rubin and Cabernet Sauvignon

Melnishki Rubin

Melnishki Rubin is a hybrid grape variety that was created in the 1970s in Pleven, Bulgaria. It was developed by crossing the indigenous Broad Leaved Melnik (Shiroka Melnik) with Cabernet Sauvignon. Similarly, Ruen is another hybrid grape variety that was created in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, with the same parents. Both Melnishki Rubin and Ruen are mostly grown in the Struma Valley in Southwest Bulgaria.

It is important to note that, although Rubin and Melnishki Rubin both share the word “rubin” and are both hybrids created in Bulgaria, they are very distinct grape varieties.


Evmolpia, also known as Thracian Mavrud, is a grape variety created in Bulgaria as a cross between Mavrud and Merlot. It was officially registered in 1991. The vines are resistant to cold weather, produce high yields, and typically produce high-quality wines.

Pinot Noir

There are several regions in the Danube Plains area that have microclimates and limestone soils that offer great potential for Pinot Noir. These wines exhibit flavors of pomegranate, dried violet, hibiscus, and cocoa powder, along with fine-grained tannins and an earthy, mushroom-like minerality.

White Grapes


Dimiat (Dimyat) is a plump white grape that is believed to be native to Bulgaria and is related to Chardonnay and Aligote through the Gouais Blanc grape. It is predominantly cultivated in the eastern parts of the country.

Dimiat wines are typically aromatic, light, and fresh, with flavors similar to Aligote, including subtle notes of apple, citrus, and apple blossom. Although Dimiat is usually enjoyed young, some styles can benefit from aging, during which they develop subtle vanilla nuances.

The wine pairs well with appetizers, while sweet varieties may be a good match for desserts.

Rupel Winery Sauvignon Blanc and Sandanski Misket

Sandanski Misket

Sandanski Misket is a hybrid between Broad Leaved Melnik and Tamianka, producing aromatic wines with hints of citrus and linden and featuring a medium body.

Misket Cherven

Misket Cherven aka Red Muscat is a type of grape native to Bulgaria that is used to produce fragrant white wines. Despite the name, the grape is actually pink in color. This variety ripens late and is grown in various regions of Bulgaria.

The wines produced from this grape are fresh, light, and pleasant with a pale yellow color and subtle green hues. The aromas are floral, fruity, and herbaceous, usually reminiscent of citrus fruit. On the palate, they are light to medium-bodied with a lingering finish.

Misket Cherven is used in single varietals and blended with more acidic wines. These wines can be served as aperitifs, but they also complement light dishes such as salads and seafood-based appetizers or main courses.

Boyar Winery Muscat


Tamianka, also known as Muscat Blanc, is a grape variety that has a distinct aroma of incense. Wines made from Tamianka grapes have layered aromas of ripe fruit, flowers, and spices. Off-dry styles are common for this grape.

Tamianka shows promising results throughout Bulgaria, but the northern areas offer freshness and elegance. The single vineyard Tamianka wine from the South Sakar wine region has become a flagship wine for aromatic whites in Bulgaria.



Keratsuda is indigenous to Bulgaria and is typically grown in the far southwest region known as Struma Valley. The grapes take a long time to ripen but can produce high yields. Additionally, the grape is resistant to drought, making it a hardy crop.

Keratsuda is not widely grown, and only a few wineries produce single-varietal wines with it, but there are some winemakers who use it in blends with other grape varieties.


Rikat aka Rkatsitelli is one of the top white grape varieties in Eastern Europe and the most commonly planted white grape in Bulgaria. However, it is not often used as a single-varietal wine. Instead, it is mostly used as a neutral grape, similar to Sémillon in the white Bordeaux blend, to enhance and balance out the overall flavor profile.

Four Friends Winery Chardonnay


In Bulgaria, Chardonnay is typically produced in unoaked styles that are characterized by their freshness and fruitiness, featuring notes of apple, pineapple, and starfruit. These wines possess good acidity and exhibit subtle gravelly minerality.

Aya Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a relatively new grape variety grown in Bulgaria. The oldest Sauvignon Blanc plantings in the country date back to 2000.

These wines typically have subtle aromatics and herbal flavors, including lime peel, pea shoot, white pepper, and fresh-cut grass. On the palate, it has a medium-weight body and finishes with a somewhat salty and savory taste, accompanied by notes of dried grass and sea shells.

FAQs About Bulgarian Wine

Do they make wine in Bulgaria?

Yes, Bulgaria has a long history of winemaking and is known for producing high-quality wines. The country has a diverse range of grape varieties and terroirs, which contribute to the unique flavors and characteristics of Bulgarian wines. Some popular grape varieties grown in Bulgaria include Mavrud, Melnik, Gamza, and Rubin. Bulgarian wines have gained international recognition and have won numerous awards at prestigious wine competitions. So yes, they make wine in Bulgaria!

Does Bulgaria have good wine?

Bulgaria has a rich history of winemaking, dating back thousands of years. The country’s diverse climate and fertile soil create favorable conditions for growing grapes and producing wine. Bulgaria is known for its unique grape varieties, such as Mavrud and Melnik, as well as its traditional winemaking techniques. Many Bulgarian wines have received international recognition and awards for their quality and taste. So, yes, Bulgaria does have good wine to offer wine enthusiasts. It’s worth exploring the different regions and vineyards to discover the variety and quality of Bulgarian wines firsthand.

What happened to Bulgarian wine?

In recent years, Bulgarian wine has experienced a revitalization and resurgence in popularity. During the Communist era, Bulgarian wine production was focused more on quantity rather than quality. However, since the fall of Communism, there has been a renewed emphasis on producing high-quality wines that showcase Bulgaria’s unique grape varieties and terroirs. This shift in focus has led to increased investment in winemaking techniques and vineyard management, resulting in wines that are now gaining attention both domestically and internationally. Today, Bulgarian wine is once again thriving and making its mark on the global wine scene.

What does a Mavrud wine taste like?

Mavrud wine is known for its distinctive taste and character. It typically has a deep, dark red color with purple hues. On the nose, Mavrud wines often have aromas of black fruits such as plum and blackberry, along with hints of spices and herbs. On the palate, Mavrud wines can be rich and full-bodied, with robust tannins and a good level of acidity. The flavors are complex, ranging from dark fruit notes to earthy undertones, sometimes with a touch of smokiness. Overall, Mavrud wine offers a unique and memorable tasting experience, with its bold flavors and complex aromas. It pairs well with hearty dishes like roasted meats, stews, and strong cheeses. If you’re a wine enthusiast looking for something different and exciting, Mavrud wine from Bulgaria is definitely worth a try.