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Ancient Gamza in 2021: Best Wine with Smash Burgers from Eastern Europe #WinePW

For April’s Wine Pairing Weekend event we are invited to the #WinePW event to explore Under the Radar European Wine Regions. ‘Under the radar’ doesn’t have to mean ‘unknown’! It’s all about exploring regions that are new to us; that we think could use a little more love from others; a place on your wine travel bucket list; or a place you didn’t know makes wine!  Hosted by Andrea of The Quirky Cork.

I'm sharing wine from Bulgaria and want to share a little with you about this Eastern European country and its long history of viticulture.  As far back as the 14th century, just before the Bulgarian Empire fell apart and ceded power to the Ottomans, Bulgarians were creating wine.  There is a painting that shows Khan Krum drinking wine from the skull of Nicephorus I.  The Khan Krum winery near the Black Sea bears his name!  Bulgaria doesn't have a specific identity in the wine world but does have a few unique grapes.  In the 1960s the area was developed in traditional French grapes: chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot. Native grapes such as the Gamza are making their way back to the marketplace.  There are two subregions: 

The Danubian Plains including the northern part of the Black Sea region

Thracian Lowlands including the Struma Valley and the southern part of the Black Sea region

There are 52 DOCs recognized, but they are not used much as compared to France.

The wine I chose for this theme is made from the Gamza grape.  Gamza is a traditional, indigenous Bulgarian grape. It's a full-bodied wine with aromas of red fruits, a deep ruby color, and delicate tannins.  These are light, refreshing wines, but hold up to steak, hamburgers, and other grilled meats.

I found this bottle of Bulgariana Gamza wine at my local Total Wines for around $11 a bottle. The wine has aromas of red summer fruits, cherry, strawberries, and raspberries. The tannins are soft and are best served with a slight chill.  That really makes this wine a perfect addition to summer grilling.

We made Smash Burgers to go along with this wine.  A spring storm brewed up and kept us from grilling outdoors, but we still made these great burgers.  My husband makes a 3 oz ball first, chills them in the fridge for 30 minutes, and puts them on the hot grill.  He lets them cook a bit as a ball, then smashes them down and cooks them longer.  He flips them once and finishes the cooking.  

Yield: 4
Author: Terri Steffes
Smash Burgers

Smash Burgers

A delicious burger grilled or fried.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 9 Mininactive time: 30 MinTotal time: 44 Min


  • 1 lb ground beef 80/20
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t ground pepper
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t Chicago Steak Seasoning


  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients gently.
  2. Divide in to 4 four ounce balls.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  5. Place the balls on the hot grill.
  6. Cook for 3 minutes, then smash down with a spatula and cook for 2 more minutes.
  7. Flip, cook the other side for four minutes.
  8. Serve with toasted buns, red onion, pickle slices, cheese, and other condiments.



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Check out the other wines with this theme here:
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla posts From the Same Latitude as Other Pinot Noir Powerhouses: The 2017 Macedon Pinot Noir Matches Two Meaty Dinners
  • Jeff at Food, Wine, Click! looks at Under the Radar in Croatia with Franc Arman Teran
  • Gwendolyn from Wine Predator looks at 3 Wines from Sicily’s Etna Volcano Paired with Pork Sugo #WinePW
  • Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge takes us Beyond Wine - Kosovo’s Stone Castle Vineyards Provides Pride, Hope & Jobs
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass features Dry or dryish, Hungarian Furmint is having a moment
  • Nicole at Somm's Table explores Stranger Grapes with Eric Danch of Danch & Granger Selections
  • Susannah from Avvinare shares Slovenia Wines from Brda, Not to Be Missed
  • Terri from Our Good Life looks at Ancient Gamza in 2021: Best Wine with Burgers from Eastern Europe
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm has Georgia On My Mind
  • Andrea at The Quirky Cork takes a Deep Dive into Hungarian Wine!

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thanks for joining this month Terri! I've been to Bulgaria but hadn't encountered this grape. I love learning about "new" grapes so thank you for sharing this!

  2. We did burgers with our first pour of the under the radar wine, too. I think burgers go with just about anything, don't they?!? I don't think I've ever had a wine from Bulgaria. On the lookout now. Thanks for sharing, Terri.

  3. Thanks for the introduction to Bulgarian wine! Putting this off-the-radar European region on my radar now. Smash burgers look simple and delicious.

  4. I've had a couple of wines from Bulgaria and enjoyed. And I love that this can take a bit of a chill which is what we need here for our summers.

  5. I've had Bulgarian wine a couple of times and enjoyed. And love that this one can take a little chill which is what we need for our summers.


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