Barcelona is the third busiest city for tourist visits in Europe, and is also the gateway to one of the top wine regions in the world. Catalonia is home to the famous wine regions known as Priorat and Penedes, and features other sub-regions like Emporda, Alella, Conca de Barbera, Terra Alta, and Montsant.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find and enjoy a great selection of fantastic wines from the region surrounding Barcelona, as it is an international and cosmopolitan city.
So where can you go to enjoy a glass of local wines, rather than getting stuck in the tourist traps of the Ramblas drinking Rioja (not that there's anything wrong with that)?
Here's a list of top spots I frequent and enjoy.
Carrer Enric Granados features some great spots for culinary delights, and at the top end near Avinguda Diagonal is Bardot. Owned by Rodrigo Varela, and directed by Karim Isphahani, Bardot features a rotating wine by the glass menu which includes almost all local wines, featuring some of the top wineries from Priorat, Emporda, Penedes, Terra Alta and other regions of Catalonia.
It arguably has the deepest offering of Catalan wines by the glass in the city, and I'm always discovering something new when I pop in, as well as enjoying some of my favourites, including Clos Figueras. The food is dynamite, including a nice tapas menu, plus full course offerings for lunch and dinner. You can spend a little or a bunch, depending on your budget, and choose between a long meal, or lounge on the bar side enjoying Catalan wines by the glass with light tapas. Karim is prolific on Instagram, and frequently posts photos from visitors including FC Barcelona players (who eat there quite a bit), many stars from the world of fashion, plus the latest fares from the kitchen.
Enric Granados, 147, Barcelona
Tel. 932 002 214
The El Born district of Barcelona is nothing short of enchanting, with history oozing at its pores, and Bar Brutal is a great spot to soak up the history while flipping through a wine list by the pages. Boasting one of the deeper local wine lists in the city, you can enjoy not only well known wines by the bottle or the glass, but some of the more obscure varieties, usually only known to wine geeks and wine bloggers, including a great selection of natural and organic wines. The staff are friendly and helpful and can direct you to the appropriate wine choice to go along with your food selections (in several languages).
As a plus, the food features a great selection of local Catalan delicacies, from meals to tapas, depending on what you're after. One side of the spot fronts onto one of the main roads running through El Born, Carrer Princesa (Can Cisa side), the other you enter through a quaint back entrance (Barra de Ferro). Some people get a little confused by the two names and the two entrances, but it's the same business. By the way, the Porcheta is legendary.
Barra de Ferro, 1/Carrer de la Princessa, 14
932 95 47 97
Instead of stopping at a restaurant on Passeig de Gracia, take a turn on Consell de Cent towards the Ramblas and head into the quaint and chic La Cuina d'en Garriga. One of Barcelona's hidden gems, not only is it a restaurant, but it also features a shop with local and a few international delicacies. Boasting a list featuring wines from Priorat, Montsant , and Emporda's Terra Remota, owners Helena and Olivier have created a fantastic atmosphere - upscale, yet casual - punctuated by an eclectic menu spanning appetizers, pastas, and the best "iberico secreto" I've had in a very long time. The best part is the fact the curated wine list features a nice mix of highly rated entry level Catalan wines, plus critically acclaimed higher end wines, giving a little something for everyone.
if they ask if you'd like a "Vermut" to start, you won't be disappointed, and no it's not the Vermouth with which you may be familiar. And yes, the seltzer is supposed to mix with it.
Carrer del Consell de Cent, 308
932 15 72 15
Another spot in El Born, close to the El Born Market building, El Diset boasts a great menu including salmon tartar (and I normally don't like tartar, which is saying something), a deep selection of local wines, and even live music. The menu is lighter fare, and it's best to put a medley of appetisers together, which will satiate even the deepest hunger.
Not only is the wine list exclusively Catalan, but the staff are very well versed in the finer points of the wines, and can usually recommend the best pairings for your selection, if that's your thing. The best part is the spot is always busy, and there's an amazingly diverse group of locals, expats, and tourists blending together to enjoy a gastronomic experience.
Carrer Antic de Sant Joan 3
If you're not familiar with Monvinic, arguably one of the best wine bars in the world, then you've been hiding under a mountain of snow in Antarctica for at least the better part of the decade. The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Food & Wine, and other media outlets have taken turns raving about the wine selection and the food.
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Boasting a sommelier staff of nine, led by co-founder Isabelle Brunet, you can count on having the best-selected wine for your palate and your food selection. Be prepared to bring your wallet, as the typical menu runs either 45€ per person or 60€ per person (minimum 2 people), but between the quality and the atmosphere, you'll find it's worth the spend. You'll have not only Catalan wine choices, but a deep international cellar as well.
Carrer Diputacio, 249
932 726 187
Located in the Gothic Quarter, Zona d'Ombra is in a quiet square on the edge of the Jewish Quarter, near the narrowest intersection in Barcelona. Unlike many of its Gothic Quarter counterparts, Zona d'Ombra has a fantastic selection of Catalan wines by the bottle or the glass, and a great Catalan tapas tasting menu.
The wine by glass rotates frequently, and if you're a fan of Emporda wines, they've got a larger selection than most. One of the highlights is their variety of croquettes from mushrooms, to cheese, to ham, and seafood. They've also kept the rustic feel of the building they occupy, with the ancient stone construction complimenting the décor of barrels and oak detailing. You might just feel like you're in a winery barrel room when you walk through the doors. Best part is the menu and the wines lean towards affordable quality, unlike many of the other culinary offerings in the very touristy-oriented Gothic Quarter.
Sant Domènec del Call, 12
935 005 802
Timmer moved to the Barcelona region four years ago after traveling the world for 15 years, working in marketing and public relations. He founded catalunyawine.com in 2014 to promote the wine region of Catalonia to the English speaking public. Now he travels to the vineyards of the region interviewing winemakers and exploring the history of the wine region.
You can follow the journey on Twitter and Instagram @catalunyawine and also on the website.