Spain is a country where wine (“vino“) consumption is ubiquitous. In fact, we’re on the winners’ podium in the world of “vino” (France, Spain and Italy). However, other drinks like cerveza (beer) and vermouth are catching up with wine. In this post, we’ve summarized the favorite drinks of los españoles.
Beer is without a doubt wine’s biggest competition, especially with the arrival of new artisan beers. The most popular beer in Madrid is Mahou, which you can find in practically every bar in the Spanish capital. Other very popular brands in Madrid are Aguila, Cruzcampo, Alhambra, and Estrella de Galicia.
We also recommend that you try Cibeles, a local brew, 100% artisanal and made with natural ingredients near Madrid. This small business was born in 2010 and has 15 different varieties of beer.
Because of its nearby location, the most popular wines in Madrid come from Valdepeñas. Ever since the 16th century when Phillip II established Madrid as the capital, wine from Valdepeñas has been highly valued in Madrid. By sales volume, this region is one of the most important in all of Europe.
Over time, other wines (Rioja, Navarra, Ribera de Duero, Alvariño, etc.) have carved a niche in the competitive Madrilenian market. We recommend that you try Ramón Bilbao (red wine), one of our favorite wines, a perfect accompaniment to meats.
As we explained in our post 10 Things to Feel Like a Local in Madrid, it is very unusual for madrileños to buy bottled water. In Madrid, the tap water comes from nearby mountains and is of excellent quality.
When Spaniards want to drink champagne, they order cava. In truth, this beverage is a sort of “Spanish champagne”, but France doesn’t allow anything to be called champagne if it isn’t made in France. The techniques used to make cava are practically identical to French champagne, but use local varieties of grapes.
The epicenter of cava in Spain is situated in Catalonia and Valencia, although there are also cava bodegas in Extremadura and Navarra.
Vermouth (“vermut“), once very popular, has become fashionable again in recent years to the point of becoming a very popular drink among hipsters, muppies (millennial yuppies), yuccies, and other urban subcultures. Each brand of vermut has its own recipe, so the flavor changes from one place to another. In general, this drink is made with white wine infused with spices, herbs, flowers and fruit. This beverage is traditionally served with appetizers.
Practically every tourist who visits Madrid wants to try this drink. However, you’ll notice something odd: it’s almost impossible to see locals drinking sangria in bars. This is due to the excessively high price by Madrid standards, not to mention the fact that the quality leaves much to be desired.
This beverage is made from red wine (not necessarily cheap wine), chopped fruit (pear, apple, peach, orange, etc.), liquor, sugar and spices. The key to enjoying a good sangria is to let the fruit marinate in the wine for 24 to 48 hours, which lets the flavors mingle.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of bars mix the ingredients a couple of hours before serving and they add a lot of sugar, which detracts from the true flavor of a good sangria. Usually, the Spanish prefer to make sangria at home and drink it with friends. So, if you want to try real sangria, we recommend you get a Spanish friend to invite you to a party 😊
Tinto de verano
When the heat gets intense (temperatures in Madrid can easily reach 40°C or 104°F), there’s nothing better than a tinto de verano, literally “summer red wine”. This drink is tremendously popular and is made from soda water, red wine, lemon and ice. Simple, cheap and refreshing. You won’t have any problem finding tinto de verano, since it’s served by 99% of the bars in Madrid.
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