One of the main pleasures of traveling is discovering new food and drink. Not only are these delicious treats enjoyable in themselves, but they are such an important part of any culture that getting to know them is one of the very best ways to get the feel for a place and really sink in to the life there.
Spain is a great place to do this. The Spanish take food and drink seriously, not in a solemn way, but as a great social pleasure to be enjoyed, and they have great respect for the quality of what they consume, for the hard work and artistry which goes into its preparation.
So, here is an insider’s guide to the delights of Spanish drinks, some well-known, some hidden gems. Enjoy.
Tinto de verano
Everybody has heard of sangria- the mixture of wine, juice, brandy and fruit pieces which for many people typifies Spain. There is no denying that it is a great drink, but on the down side you can normally only order it by the jug, which can be expensive. If what you are after is a quick, light, refreshing drink, then try tinto de verano a simple mixture of red wine and lemonade, usually served in a tall glass over ice – perfect for hot summer nights.
San Miguel beer
Most regions and even individual towns in Spain have their own brand of beer, but my person favorite is San Miguel, brewed in Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol. It is a light, crisp beer, with a smooth aftertaste and it goes down a treat on its own or with a meal.
This northern region gave its name to the most famous wine in Spain. The best known wines from Rioja are reds, which go very well with a good steak or other meats. Less well known but equally well worth trying are the lighter rosé versions and the crisp, fresh white wines. There is something to suit everybody’s taste and pocket, from good simple table wines to grand reserves which can live with the world’s finest and which change hands for hundreds of euros.
This is the Spanish equivalent of Champagne and comes from Catalonia, in the north-east of Spain. The most famous brand is Freixenet, which accounts for over half of all cava sales, although in total there are well over 200 cava producers. Cava is a light, normally dry sparkling wine, and it has a very important place in Catalan culture and cookery. Try it either as an aperitif, or with one of the combination dishes of poultry cooked with fruit for which Catalonia is famous.
Licor Cuarenta y Tres ( Licor 43)
This is quite simply the ultimate after-dinner drink. As the name suggests, it is made from a mixture of 43 different ingredients, including citrus and other fruits, herbs and spices and vanilla, which all together produce a glowing golden drink with a smooth and warming flavor, containing hints of chocolate and bananas. Normally served over ice, it is slightly sweet, but with a serious bite.
Don’t leave Spain without trying it!
Spain Hotels for wine lovers :
Famous for Andalusian horses and Flamenco music, Jerez is also a major center of brandy and sherry production. The city is well known for its bodegas and the elegant Hotel Los Jandalos Jerez is the perfect starting point to visit the local wineries or take an Andalusia wine tour.
Located in L’Estartit beach resort and featuring a large swimming pool, the Hotel Santa Anna is a great spot for a family holiday on the Costa Brava.
Food and wine lovers can sample delicious Spanish and Mediterranean specialties at the hotel restaurant. They can also book wine tasting and wine tour around Barcelona and Penedès, an area well known for its Cava sparkling wine.
The brand new Hotel Las Gaunas offers comfortable rooms at affordable price in the heart of Logroño, a town located on the Ebro river, in the Northern region of La Rioja.
With a vast choice of tapas bars and taverns, the city is certainly one of the best places to enjoy Spanish wine culture. In addition, as a center of Rioja wine production, Logroño boasts numerous wineries offering wine tasting sessions, as well as calados, antique cellars featuring caves dug in the stone.
Picture of Tinto de Verano and beer originally posted by dirk.hartung