Bulgarian wine through the eyes of the expert Vili Galabova
Vili Galabova is a renowned oenophile and a very knowledgeable Bulgarian wine expert. With more than 15 years of experience she is also a valued judge at International wine competitions, a member of Divino tasting panel (read more about Divino.Taste) and a preferred lecturer at many wine events.
Though “wine expert” sounds pretty important and impressive, Vili Galabova deserves to be described in a more accurate way. Actually, she is rather a wine aficionado, talking about the world of wine with such a passion and in-depth knowledge, that no listener can remain indifferent.
Teodora Petkova met her to find out more about the opportunities for wine tourism in Bulgaria, the facts and fables about Bulgarian wine and last but not least for a connoisseur’s advise about what wines shouldn’t be missed during a visit in Bulgaria.
We meet shortly after one of the biggest Bulgarian wine forums. How did this edition of Divino go for you?
Fantastic. We expected this to be a long anticipated event for both wine connoisseurs and professionals, and to be attended by more visitors, compared to last year. However, our expectations were surpassed, and it appeared that we have attracted many many guests, an audience that shared our passion. In addition, Divino was also attended by many international experts, some of whom participated in our seminar program, and others came to support us just by presence.
Do you believe there should be a special attitude towards Bulgarian wine or it is just a tiny part of the huge global diversity?
What do you mean by special attitude? Is this in terms of consumer experience, and in terms of time to be devoted to learn something about it?
In general, the answer is implied in the question itself. For me, wine is an art, it’s not a craft. So, the question of whether art needs special attitude and time holds the answer within itself. Yes, it does, for sure. It also depends on the objective that we set for ourselves.
If you are to go after utilitarian purposes only, i.e. to have a drink with your dinner, most probably all you’ll need to know is what’s best for your sensories. Some people like light, soft, smooth, fruity wine varieties, while others prefer solid, powerful wines with prominent tannins. So the utilitarian function is easy to understand and meet.
On the other hand, if a person is willing to go even one step further, to have a peek into the process through which the product reaches the consumer, then only two hours of reading are sufficient to convince everyone that the glass of wine before them needs significant expertise in order to be chosen and enjoyed in an informed manner.
What about wine culture in Bulgaria?
In the recent years really big investments were made in this area and subsequently wine culture in Bulgaria slowly began to improve and extend. Both consumers and producers are advancing in their knowledge of wine. More and more Bulgarian wines are entering international competitions. I myself am a judge in one such international wine contest in London and in some others, and every year the number of Bulgarian wines to be assessed is growing. This is part of wine culture.
As a judge, how are Bulgarian wines ranking?
Well, good. I’m content because a general rule in almost all the contests is that about 20-30% of all samples participating are awarded. And for Bulgaria this rule is valid in a much higher percentage, say 40 percent of the wines are getting back to the country with an award. So obviously the level of wine production in Bulgaria is considerably higher than it is in other countries.
Maybe there is something misunderstood about Bulgarian wine?
Definitely. Our South temperament is a kind of extreme, we tend to look at things through the perspective “Whether it be Hosanna, or Crucify him”. Those who are to some extent knowledgeable in Bulgarian wine, say there’s nothing better in the world than this wine.
And others who have their eyes at least a bit less shut, would go like: “What, Bulgarian wine, never! Considering what I can afford from France, Australia, California, Chile…”
Of course the truth is not even halfway. The truth is that if you’re a cultured person, you will want to know more about yourself, before embarking on discovering the world. That is to find out what Bulgarian wine producers can do, and what do they do. And this is what Divino actually offers and is all about, provided you are in the mood to try more than 1, 2, 3 or 20 wines.
And maybe provided you are not embarrassed to spit…
Not at all! Spitting is even encouraged. Because if you do not spit, you definitely cut your chances. You try five wines and then…. The rest 50 treasures remain hidden for you.
Continue reading: Sideways scenario in Bulgaria