I have to admit: the very fact that I am writing this article for a publication enjoyed only by genuine connoisseurs of quality drinks fills me with excitement. I take a cautious sip of my "lyrical hero", Kavalan ex-Sherry Cask, the excitement builds, invading all my senses, and then booom! A rich, lustful aroma with many layers explodes on the palate, catalyzed by the serious alcohol percentage. Yet, it does not burn, it just instills respect as if saying "This is not a drink for crybabies!" The finish is long, soft and smooth, and the aftertaste is a generous fantasy that makes you smack for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Honestly, after a few sips of Kavalan, all other whiskies will seem flat and impersonal to you, at least in the next hour or two.

My personal acquaintance with Kavalan took place just 3 or 4 years ago, at the Whiskey Fest Sofia. Since then, there is this one question that has been plaguing me...what is the secret of this Taiwanese whisky sensation that seems to have barged in and rewritten the rules of a centuries-old industry? Scottish distilleries flourish on ancient history, specific northern climate, salty sea wind, family traditions, coats of arms and secret recipes passed on from one generation to the next... But all of a sudden all this sounds like a marketing myth as this brand-new player, the first ever Taiwanese whisky, suc- ceeds only a few years after the opening of the distillery (in December 2008) to literally reap awards and competitions the world over.

Wine Heals Mind and Body

"The dose makes the poison", the Medieval physician Paracelsus said once.
Throughout its long history, wine has been both glorified and forbidden. It has been attributed with unique healing proper- ties. It has also been declared a weapon of Satan. Throughout the 20th century, wine was treated like an ordinary alcoholic drink. In 1991, however, Serge Renaud, a French medical researcher appeared on the CBS news show 60 Minutes, discussing why France had 40 per cent lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared to America, even though people in both countries consumed unhealthy diets and exercised little. Why? Renaud argued that the French people's regular, moderate consumption of wine with meals, particularly red wine, was a significant reason for their better health. The next day, sales of French red wine in the US rose by 40 per cent. The positive effects of moderate alcohol use have been the subject of so many publications recently that they can fill up entire libraries. Of all alcoholic beverages, wine and in particular red wine of- fers the most positive impact on human health.

“Wine Club”. It seems to me that there is hardly any other concept that could give rise to so many different associa- tions and interpretations in our wine community. However, despite the lack of tradition that would officially “codify” them, I believe that wine clubs in all their forms and expressions can seriously contribute to raising the wine culture among Bulgar- ian connoisseurs. Let's take a closer look at them:

Wine clubs can be dedicated spots such as wine bars, themed restaurants, specialized stores etc. where you can taste interesting wines. We are glad to note that such places already exist in towns other than Sofia and the big cities. Yes, they are not many, but they are there. Until recently, even in the most reputable restaurants the question, "What wine by the glass do you offer?", was answered usually by "bulk wine by the glass". And that was that.

Today, the situation is different. Things are more subtle, wine lists, and the selection and variety of themed wines, that can be enjoyed "by the glass" and which are changed each week become more common. Moreover, serving of traditional appetizers and craft cheese as accompaniment to wine is also considered more often. Yet, as this approach is still quite new, and therefore quite risky, it is crucial that these places be identified and supported by wine connoisseurs. As the saying goes, this is the case when we vote with our wallets.

There is a special moment in wine drinking, which provokes almost a Buddhist feeling of harmony and simplicity in me, soothing my mind and allowing me to focus on the present. While tasting and enjoying the tiniest details: light chasing through the glass, various aromas opening up, the taste of the wine, the light ringing sound coming from the glass and just then it comes again... that wine moment.

Sometimes, I deliberately slow down the pace to appreci ate the gracefulness of the curve of the bottle, the beauty of the label, the way the wine moves with the turning of the glass. Usually, my mind is racing, jumping from one thought to another, worrying about too many things. With this ritual it calms down, focuses and gently embraces the moment. I live here and now... there is nothing else to discuss but wine. There is nowhere else to be, except right here and now. Several years ago, while studying wine tasting, the wine moment discreetly sneaked into my everyday life. I would go out after study sessions, and I would roam the streets of Sofia caught in the city sounds, sights and smells. These sensations would make me sharpen my senses and catch the moment. And then the challenge of urban transportation would arise... It was then that I realized there was a huge difference be- tween tasting wine by giving it our full attention, and drinking it while discussing the latest news on TV.
The timeless awareness of the wine moment proved to be my little antidote against the stress of everyday life. If you want to know how to get to it, here is how.

It seems that wine is a never-ending source of inspiration for the lm industry. "Sideways" and "A Good Year" gave birth to a new genre in this art. Here come the movies in which wine is not just part of the story but the main character. Or almost the main character. I love good movies about wine. Frankly, I also love bad movies about wine. They provoke me, make me dig in the books once again and discover new meanings in my favourite drink. I, hereby, present to you my personal ranking list of movies about wine. I have chosen those who not only entertain but also pose questions. I have still not found the answers to some of them. But as we all know the answer often lies at the bottom of the bottle.

There is no better way of getting to know the world than tasting it and experiencing it with your senses. This is a short guide to 10 spirits worth tasting, even if they can be quite hard to nd in our corner of the world. Specialty stores, bars and travel are, of course, the best ways to get your hands on them and understand the diversity of the spirits world.

Interest in wine is in the ascendant, yippy it seen to be cool again to drink wine again by those below 35 years old and not just an ‘old farts’ drink. Hipsters are exploring beyond shots and craft beer.

There has been long term history of interest and love of wine not only by those in the booze industry but people who simply like drinking it and there are millions of bars, bistros/ brasseries and restaurants worldwide. Never has the choice and diversity been greater. Competition is intense in international wine consumption centres of the world like London and New York.

In my home country, Bulgaria, creative and knowledgeable wine bar owners are in short supply. Why, I ask myself, when we produce such delicious wines to taste and drink, have great food, beautiful countryside and cities?

Wine outlets

There are many places around the world where one can get wine. Enotecas, specialty stores, restaurants and many more. Nowadays, this can be done even without leaving our home, that is, placing an order and then having someone show up at the door with a box of the magical drink.

Wine, however, is like a book, like a painting and other pieces of art that you somehow want to see in real life, touch them, look around, talk about them, and eventually leave with some of the masterpieces.

This is where the Wine Shop comes into play and appears as a guidebook to the vast world of wine!

In the decade when everything has its digital alternative, wine is not an exception. The knowledge and interest towards the world of wine increases and information becomes more accessible due to digital technology. The Internet has no borders – sites and blogs of magazines such as Wine Enthusi- ast, Decanter and gurus like Jancis Robinson, Tim Atkin, Jamie Goode and other in uencers in the US, France, Australia and Italy are followed by millions. The content is easily accessible and if you aim to broaden your wine knowledge, you certainly are in the right spot. And if you are on the advanced level, things get even more interesting and you can debate on various hot topics: the future development of Collio region, how the inoculation with cultured yeasts in uences terroir, to name a few.

The wine applications are another development that o ers extensive information in convenient format and they grew to become indispensable part of the lives of wine lovers and professionals. They are content-based around di erent topics, starting with the most practical usages and covering up to the fun part of the wine world with applications integrated with design functionalities. One thing is certain – in a world without borders to travel, shopping and learning, the digital tools for Android and iOS have unrivalled advantages. The wine apps can help you in many ways.

Are barrels important for the winemaker? Oh, yes! None of today’s masterpieces would have been created without the use of barrels.

History has it that…

Thanks to the Celts, it was invented somewhere around the 3rd – 2nd c. B.C. and there came Her Majesty the Barrel!

By the end of antiquity and during the Middle Ages the barrel had gradually become the main wine vessel in Europe. Initially it was preferred because it was more convenient in transporting liquids but as time passed people realized that wines stored in barrels tend to develop and their flavours would change and refi ne.