What drink to welcome 2021 – a conversation with Yana Petkova about wine, about what else – Food and drinks

© Kristina Markova

Dnevnik republished part of the interview with Yana Petkova for Bacchus magazine. It is on the occasion of the release of her first book “A, B, Wine” – an excerpt from which you can also read in the edition. The issue of “Bacchus” is dedicated to the best restaurants in Bulgaria for 2020 and you can read here. More gourmet stories – here.

When Yana Petkova is asked what her job is, she says “wine”. We read this in the introduction to her first book, A, B, Wine. Both those who have known her for years and those who met her 10 minutes ago at the premiere of the publication have no doubt about it. More classically he can be presented as a wine consultant and wine journalist (wine writer – there is not a sufficiently accurate translation into Bulgarian, but he is now literally a wine writer). He deals with all kinds of projects related to the drink – from marketing to teaching. He also participates in the restaurant business with “Skara bar”. Together with an oenologist, they developed their first own wines. “I just taste them,” laughs Petkova.

“A, B, Wine” is her latest project. For the luxury, we can call it encyclopedic edition, we will say that it is a must for everyone with an amateur interest in the drink, but the advanced ones also have something to learn or negotiate. The book does not look like a classic encyclopedia in structure, much less in story and style, because Yana talks about wine figuratively and with passion and mixes the important and the practical with history and stories. “A, B, Wine” is structured so that you can open it and read in different places without following the chronology of the chapters.

You know so much about wine, you study it, you research it, you tell it for 20 years – what do you still not know about it?

– It is not possible to learn everything, because wine, like the world, is changing. For example, while writing the book, a key statistic changed – China came out in 2019 in second place as the country with the most vineyards. There have always been Spain, France and Italy, and the time has come for China to break into the top three. We are yet to learn about Chinese wine.

So you always learn. In the courses I say that we will not have a second nose and the basics of tasting are the same, but the theory and practice are constantly changing. I believe that the luxury of forming an opinion must lie on knowledge, and that is why I am constantly learning different and little-known styles, regions or techniques. in the wine.

A few years ago, for example, I began to study in depth the so-called orange wines – natural wines, are currently very modern. There are already two or three of them in Bulgaria (one even became the wine of the year two years ago). For several years I searched and tried mostly such wines. Everywhere I was. These are actually white wines made in contact with the skin, and their color becomes amber – white wines with tannins and a dense body. At first “experience” – strange wines. And otherwise ancient – Georgians have been making such wines for millennia, Slovenes – for centuries.

Were you able to understand them?

– I hope I understood them, I certainly loved them. I went to Georgia twice for this purpose. In Georgia it is easy to fall in love – with nature, with people, with wines. What is little known is that Georgians drink red wine almost only at funerals, because they believe that wine is the blood of Christ. Otherwise, they drink white wine – often and in large quantities.

It must be champagne. Or another sparkling wine – it could be Italian franchise or Spanish cava. 2020 is an absurd year, we do not know what awaits us and as they say – champagne is such a measured mixture of luxury and decadence that what is more appropriate. But it is also expensive, so it can be coffee and franchise. And I also did not believe that I would say it, but there are already some great Bulgarian sparkling wines using classic technology.

Yana Petkova for what wine to drink for the start of 2021

Which wines are you currently studying?

– I’m starting a wine project – very small quantities of bottles with a friend, an oenologist – and we start with Pét-Nat – the most ancient sparkling wines. Slightly sparkling, lower alcohol, with delicate bubbles.

And now I’m studying these wines. In principle, they originated centuries ago along the Loire in France. This is perhaps the most ancient method of aeration, forgotten for centuries, but, as we know, everything is repeated and now the world is crazy about them. We have at least two wineries that produce quite good fives.

Do you teach people to taste? What do you want to convey to them – one course is not enough, but what to leave with?

“I’m trying to pique their curiosity.” I was intimidated by this – how complex a matter wine is for a select few. As the designer of my book, Velina Mavrodinova, says, “I democratize murky topics.” I want to democratize this topic. It is very murky, all sorts of fictional characters swim in it – some are sharks, some – barbells.

I want to I create courage and confidence in your own taste in your relationship with wine.

I give the tools so you can tell not only which wine you like, but also why you like it. Gain confidence in your own senses.

What drink to welcome 2021 - a conversation with Yana Petkova about wine, about what else

© Kristina Markova

How does the taste of Bulgarians towards wine change?

– At the moment it seems that he has turned to the Bulgarian. There is a group of professionals – oenologists, traders, wine guides, tasters, who are actively working to revive interest in Bulgarian wine. Because actually the Bulgarian does not know his own wine, but he must – There are already cellars with interesting and quality wines.

Many tastings and events are organized, this year we announced “World Mavruda Day”, there are wines that are a cause for pride, more and more non-standard small projects. If you want, you can meet and get to know Bulgarian wine at every turn.

What Bulgarians are left to learn about wine is that homemade wine is not good wine.

Unfortunately, almost no wine bars have developed in the cities, but wine tourism is developing and wine shops and websites are opening (now online orders have increased). The reality is that in my city, Sofia, very little wine is drunk and there is almost no place. Which is not only the fault of customers, but especially restaurants with their terrible pricing policy.

What do you imagine for 2021?

– As they said during the US presidential election, when was the last time you asked for political cliché? These are such crazy times that now is the time to ask for peace and a wine cliché. Let’s go back to normalcy and work again. We lost so much – especially in the restaurant business. The stagnation is devastating.

What is the role of wine in such severe crises?

– I will say it directly – absolute social anesthesia is wine during crises. Never before has so much wine been drunk around me as during quarantine, and I have been doing this for years.

Your message about the hospitality industry in Bulgaria for 2021?

– I have always wanted to wish the Bulgarian hospitality industry to be a hospital, ie. to be hospitable.

You can read the whole interview with Yana Petkova in the issue of Bacchus magazine here or on the publication’s website here.

“For years there is no other drink but wine. Yes, malt whiskey and craft beer are probably just as interesting, but for me not as complex, multi-layered and ennobling as wine. The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset said it more than a hundred years ago: “Wine is a cosmic problem.” Wine is a drink for which territories have changed their rulers and kings have pledged their reputation, wine tells of the land from which it comes, with the voice of the people who made it. It’s biblical, kind of speculative, and every time you think you’ve finally figured it out, it attacks you from an unsuspected angle. Deified and considered mystical, wine has been the most common beverage in the fine arts since ancient times, and Dionysius in his role as god of wine and theater is the youngest and, logically, the happiest god in the Greek pantheon. “
Yana Petkova describes her attitude to wine in the introduction to “A, B, Wine”