The vessels found during archaeological excavations testify to the great popularity of wine among the Thracians. It was drunk by everyone, but mixed with water according to the age of the drinkers. Evenmore, historical and linguistic analyses point to the fact that it was ancient Thracian tribes who gave the knowledge of wine making to the Hittites, Arabs, Greeks, Romans and Celts.
Grape harvest as well as the preparation of the wine for the ancient Thracians were sacred events associated with many rituals’ dedicated to the god Dionysus (Zagreus). In ancient times the Thracians used to harvest the grapes in baskets, put them into barrels and transport them to the places where the grape juice would be extracted. The ancient ritual of the Thracian tribes was to pour the grapes into thoroughly cleaned stone bassins, known as sharappan. The extraction of the juice was accomplished by using an old technique of squashing the grapes by foot in large basins, known as sharapans. The grapes were pressed by the bare feet of Thracian virgins dressed in white. The ritual was led by a Thracian red-robed hierophant and the benediction of the Thracian God Dionysus was absolutely obligatory for the preparation of fine wine. The duration of the fermentation process was taking at least six months. The young wine would be left to age in ceramic vessels. It would become drinkable usually in the second year of production. However, Thracian wines of high quality were left to age for 5-10 years.
Today, Thracian wine is made with the help of advanced and modern technologies that are environmentally friendly. The grapes are harvested early in the morning in small quantities. Then they get cooled in a cold room. After cooling, the grapes are usually sorted by hand on a sorting belt, removing any poor-quality grapes. From the sorting belt, the grapes go into high-quality barrels, usually made from French or American oaks. Wine technologies carefully observe the process allowing the flavors and color from the skin to pass into the grape juice, they regulate the temperatures and the fermentation and determine the percentage of varieties in the blend. Modern wineries in the Thracian lowlands implement generations of knowledge and experience when producing wine of the highest quality. The importance of Thracian history and traditions in wine production in the region is demonstrated in almost every name, label, story and idea behind the wineries in the country.
Next time when you want to taste a wine with a history and tradition of production, be sure to check out the EU’s PGI and PDO quality schemes – and you’re sure to experience something new and very special!
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