Wine and Wanderlust: Uncork your inner explorer

As someone who’s been lucky to have opportunities to explore the world, I’ve learned that life is all about opening your horizons to new experiences. Whether traveling to a new country, trying a new dish, or meeting new people, I try to embrace new and different experiences with open arms. Wine has always been a powerful reminder of this – a symbol of the importance of embracing the unknown.

I’ve spent time in some of the world’s most legendary wine regions, from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the rugged coastline of Sonoma. I’ve journeyed to the sun-kissed vineyards of Sicily, where the blend multicultural influences made for bold and beautiful wines. And every time I taste a new wine, I’m struck by the way it embodies the unique character of its place of origin – the terroir, the climate, the traditions, and the people.

Wine is much more than just a drink, it’s a cultural phenomenon that has shaped civilizations and left an indelible mark on history. From ancient Greece and Rome to the royal courts of Europe, wine has been a symbol of wealth, luxury, and sophistication for thousands of years. However, wine is not just about status, it is also a tool for cultural exchange and diplomacy, bringing people from different backgrounds together to share stories, ideas, and traditions.

Wine also reflects the land and the people who produce it. Exploring different wine regions offers a glimpse into the culture, history, and geography of a place. When you drink wine, you engage all of your senses – from the visual appeal of the wine’s color and clarity, to the aroma of the bouquet, to the taste and mouthfeel of the wine itself. Wine also has the power to evoke memories and emotions, making each sip a personal experience.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the urge to break free from my traditional go-to grapes. With so many different styles, regions, and grapes to choose from, it’s never been easier to broaden my wine knowledge and expand my palate. There’s a world of flavor waiting to be discovered.

My most recent wine journey was not to some amazing vineyard in a far off country, but to the state store around the corner (yes, Pennsylvania is weird when it comes to alcohol). One of the bottles I picked up was a Bulgarian red. Despite being lesser-known on the global wine scene, Bulgarian wine is a hidden gem in Eastern Europe that deserves more recognition.

The wine-making tradition in Bulgaria dates back thousands of years and has been an integral part of the country’s culture and history. Bulgaria has a diverse wine-growing region, with varied soils, microclimates, and topography, which results in a wide range of wine styles and flavors. From the rolling hills of the Thracian Lowlands to the rugged mountains of the Balkan Range, each area has its own unique terroir that contributes to the individuality of the wines produced there.

One of the most exciting aspects of Bulgarian wine is its indigenous grape varieties. Bulgaria has a rich heritage of its own grape varieties, including the highly-regarded Mavrud, Rubin, and Pamid. These grapes are known for their intense flavors, high tannins, and strong aromas, and are used to produce some of the country’s finest red wines.

In recent years, Bulgarian wineries have made significant investments in technology and winemaking techniques, resulting in a higher quality of wine. Many wineries are now producing wines that are on par with some of the best in the world.

The red I picked up at the state store was a bottle of Rossidi Enophile Rubin – Syrah 2018. This red is a blend of the indigenous Bulgarian Rubin grape and the French Syrah grape. The Rubin brings a rich, full-bodied flavor to the table, while the Syrah adds some serious aromas and flavors of black fruit and spices. It’s a match made in heaven.

I also cracked open a bottle of Sun Wine Mukuzani 2018. This red is made from 100% Saperavi grape variety grown in the Mukuzani appellation in Kakheti, Georgia. Wine has been an integral part of Georgia’s cultural heritage for over 8,000 years, with evidence of grapevine cultivation and winemaking dating back to the Neolithic period. In fact, some historians believe that Georgia is the birthplace of wine. Georgia has over 500 grape varieties, many of which are indigenous to the country.

The Saperavi grapes used in this wine are harvested by hand and then fermented in traditional Georgian clay vessels called “qvevri” using natural yeasts. This traditional winemaking method, which is still used by many Georgian winemakers, produces wines that are rich, full-bodied, and complex, with a distinct orange color and earthy flavor profile.

So next time you’re faced with a new experience, whether it’s trying a new wine or visiting a new place, I encourage you to embrace it with open arms. Life is too short to live it in the same old ways – so why not open up your horizons and see what the world has to offer?

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