Due to the significant investment of the Brand Marketing Organization (BMO) – World Wines into the development of international markets for the products of Bulgarian Wine & Spirits Industry, BulgarianWine.net invited their Head Sommelier to continue the project: "The Most Influential People of the Bulgarian Wine Industry". The aim of the project is about the people behind wine glasses, wine bottles, wine brands. Wine lovers crave the stories and want to know more. Bulgarian Wine is more than just wine. It is a history, passion, love, and devotion. Welcome the devoted Bulgarian sommelier and passionate wine lover: Marin Atanasov. His story is easy-going like a glass of rose on a sunny day and warming as a glass of red on a cold winter evening.
1. When did your wine journey begin?
Back in 2001 when I was working on the cruise ship like a Chef de Rang. I had a lot of good luck with the wine sells and often double what others did like revenue. The French guys start calling me sommelier. I had to learn about wine fast before everyone realises that I know nothing. I did not stop since then.
2. What has provoked or motivated you to connect your life with wine?
The situation above but the real question is “What keeps me going?”. The people involved in the wine business on all different levels are great individuals.
3. What is the most challenging part of being in the wine business?
There are many. The long hours, the dedication, forgetting about weekends off. Everything has rules and is changing at the same time, involving. You have to be on the top of things!
4. What do you find the most rewarding about being in the wine business?
There are many moments that are unique: finishing work after 400 - 500 covers has been done in the restaurant, followed by shower and glass of your favourite for the day rose, seating on the beach and let the waves calmed you down, or barrel sampling the new vintage, realising how great it’s going to be.
5. Which one of the wine regions of Bulgaria would you recommend to explore and why?
I will be in big trouble if I answer this question one way. All the regions in Bulgaria deserve people's attention. This is our treasure! The problem is we have only two PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) since 2005 - Danubian plains and Thracian lowlands. Of even remotely begin to serve any justice to Sakar, the Struma Valley, the Rose Valley and the Black Sea coast. I firmly believe that Bulgarian regions should be at least nine with next step diversifying Sakar and Struma river as well.
6. If you have to recommend only one Bulgarian winery to visit, which would that be and why?
I have to forfeit this one as well. Just place the following wineries names written on piece of paper in jar and choose: Orbelus, Villa Melnik, Rupel, Karabunar, Zelanos, Villa Yustina, Dragomir, Tsarev Brod, Salla Estate, Staro Oryahovo, Chateau Burgozone, Minkov Brothers, Varna winery, Chateau des Bergers, Bratanov, Katarzyna and so on. You know what? Take a month off and visit all of them.
7. Favourite combo (place+food+wine+with (person)).
The beach in Varna + Varnenski Misket + marinated fish and tapas + on my own or with people!!
8. What is your advice for starting wine entrepreneurs?
Use the time carefully. There is not such a thing like “I have visited enough wine regions “or “I know everything about wine”. Take at least one day a month for blind tasting with a wine group.
Work in wine because you want not because you have to.
9. What are your wine goals in the next one year or two?
My goals are connected with promoting the Bulgarian wines abroad. Placing Bulgaria in the countries that matter in the wine world is a mission for the couple of generations involved in our wine, professionally and emotionally.
10. Describe “Bulgarian wine” in three words / Bulgarian Wine is…
I will have to go with sentences rather than words:
“The Languedoc of the Balkans”
“Familiar grapes from unfamiliar places.”
- “World class wines with a Balkan twist.”
About Marin Atanasov: Marin Atanasov is the Chief Sommelier of BMO – World Wine, company that has a cause “To import and promote high-quality Bulgarian wines to the wine lovers of the USA. He is a member of the board of the directors of Bulgarian Sommelier and Wine Connoisseur association, the wine educator and lecturer.
About Wines of Bulgaria: BMO is a professional organisation representing the Bulgarian wine producers from all wine regions of the country. The association successfully promotes Bulgarian wine in Europe and third countries, providing its members access to new markets and effective partnerships. The organisation's efforts are aimed at achieving sustainable and constant development of the Bulgarian wine industry, offering professional, marketing and business support for its members; providing access to new markets; effective representation at international events; participation in projects and initiatives financed with EU funds.
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Important information: don't miss a unique chance to meet Marin Atanasov in person and even try some Bulgarian wines in the USA: Bulgarian Master Class Featuring Local Varieties. All levels of wine lovers are invited!
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Thank you! And as Bulgarians say: "Nazdrave"!