It’s been a bit of a manic week this week (hence the lack of blog posts), so on Sunday evening, with the sole intention of perching myself on the sofa for the evening, girlie novel in hand, I decided a nice glass of red wine was called for.
A couple of weeks ago, upon returning from their annual ski trip to Bulgaria, my sister and her boyfriend presented me with a bottle of Bulgarian red wine. I’d been eager to break into it since they got back; needless to say, Sunday evening was the time to do so…
A bit of research told me that Mavrud (named after a legendary fearless lion slayer) is a famous, indigenous variety of wine from Southern Bulgaria, said to produce robust wines with high acidity and lots of character.
This particular bottle is a Mavrud Reserve 2008 from the Pulden wine cellar in the Thracian Valley and, according to the reverse label (grammarians look away now), it is an ‘Elegant wine with thick dark-ruby colour, multiple aroma of forest berries, chocolate, pepper and vanilla. The taste is thick and harmonic’.
This wine carries a heavy scent of blackberries and vanilla. It has an oaky, peppery flavour and quite an acidic aftertaste… I would recommend letting this wine breathe for around an hour to taste it at its best.
While I enjoyed this wine I feel it would work particularly well alongside food, as opposed to being consumed on its own, given that it has a rather tart finish. I’d recommend a dish that contains a savoury mince such as this tried and tested recipe of stuffed peppers:
Stuffed peppers (serves 4)
4 large green or red peppers, deseeded, tops removed and kept
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
1 small onion, finely chopped
100g minced beef
½ tbsp tomato puree
2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
100g Basmati rice, cooked and drained
Knob of butter
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C (160˚C for a fan oven)
2. Blanch the peppers and tops in salted boiling water
3. Drain the peppers and run them under cold water- pat dry
4. Fry the onion in the oil until golden brown
5. Add the beef and fry until browned, stirring constantly
6. Stir in the salt, pepper, basil, parsley and tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes
7. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the boiled rice
8. Stand the peppers in a deep ovenproof casserole dish and spoon the mixture into them.
9. Put a small amount of butter on each and place the tops back on
10. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes until tender.
11. Serve immediately with a leafy green salad.
For something a little more authentic, I discovered a Bulgarian recipe book amongst my mum’s collection (‘the Best of Bulgarian Cuisine’ dated 1989) which includes various recipes from the different regions of Bulgaria. One particular section includes recipes from the Thracian Region, such as braised lamb with garlic, a number of different veal dishes, and one which particularly took my fancy; an aubergine bake made by layering aubergines and a savoury mince of onion and pork (a more popular mince than beef in this region), before baking in the oven.
I haven’t managed to locate this particular wine online, but Slurp list a number of wines from all over the world, including several from Bulgaria which are worth a try if you fancy a change!
Next time my sister goes to Bulgaria and brings back another bottle (hopefully she’s reading this!) I plan on trying out some Bulgarian dishes to go with it…