Barcelona is a magnificent city, brimming with history, culture and compelling cuisine. But it wasn’t until Democracy was restored in 1978 and the city hosted the Olympic Games in 1992 that it became one of Europe’s top destinations.
Today, Barcelona is a wine lover’s dream, with opportunities to sample the gift of the grape seemingly at every turn. And there are lots of turns to take when strolling through the city, its vast network of narrow walkways making getting lost not only a near-certainty, but also a goal. As is the case in many historic European cities, taking the path less traveled can yield some amazing memories.
Barcelona has no shortage of wine shops, most housed in ancient buildings and focused primarily on Spanish bottlings. Unlike America’s wine “warehouses,” these are small businesses where you’ll likely deal directly with the owner, who is virtually guaranteed to be well versed on the topic of Spanish wines, and also can recommend wine-friendly restaurants to try.
If your time is limited, consider taking a culinary tour. Most tours focus on restaurants within the city limits, but some venture far afield to the countryside of the famous Montserrat Benedictine abbey. For the best experience, seek out a “small group” tour, and then hope it’s even smaller than the maximum number of people allowed. This will provide more one-on-one access to the tour guide, who may be willing to go “off-script” and tailor parts of the tour to your preferences.
On such tours, plates generally are served family style, and include a nice selection of local cold cuts and cheeses. There’s often a dessert, of sorts, included: a soft white cheese which, when crushed with a fork, takes on the consistency of cottage cheese and is topped with honey.
For a different type of tour, visit the Jamon Experience, which overlooks Barcelona’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, Las Ramblas. There, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the gourmet delicacy known as Jamon Iberico — Iberian ham.
The combination museum and restaurant features informative, interactive displays, and the experience culminates with a tasting of six different kinds of hand-cut ham, accompanied by a glass of cava, table wine or beer. We recommend cava — Spain’s version of sparkling wine — because its high acidity and refreshing mouthfeel provide the perfect counterpoint to the natural saltiness of the ham.
Sparkling wine also is a go-to choice for an adult beverage at Barcelona’s ubiquitous tapas restaurants and bars. Another is rosé-style wine (known in Spain as rosato) because of its fruit-forward flavors.
Tapas destinations range from tiny holes in the wall with tall tables for standing, to lavish, multi-level dining spaces with bar, table and even booth seating. For tips on getting the most out of a Barcelona tapas experience, click here.
There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona that it would require weeks to take it all in. So we suggest hitting the highlights, and making time for at least one wine experience each day. Trust us, they won’t be hard to find.