On my second night in Barcelona, I signed up for a tapas and wine tour hosted by Spanish Trails – a company that came highly recommended to me by my brother. I was very excited for this tour, as I was hoping for an opportunity to taste the tapas and wine that the locals love. And that is exactly what I got!
There were two lovely American couples on the tour, guided by Vivan at Spanish Trails. Vivian is a sommelier and very well-connected to the food and wine scene in Barcelona, so she was the perfect guide.
Our first stop was at Ciutat Comtal in the L’Eixample district, where we had Montaditos and El Perro Verde Verdejo wine from the Rueda region. Montaditos are Catalan tapas that are cheese, seafood or meat on top of a slice of toasted bread. We had shrimp Montaditos and four cheese Montaditos. I loved the shrimp ones, which were toped with a foam-like aioli that is a specialty of Barcelona. And the wine was refreshing with notes of citrus and some grassiness – the perfect pairing to our start of the evening.
Next we hit up Centric Canalla, which was my favorite stop of the night. Vivian ordered a Nekeas Rose of Grenache from Navarra, and an Els Pics red blend of Grenache and Samso from Priorat. Both were fantastic wines, but everyone loved the red! As for food, Vivian selected eggplant with honey and mint, patatas bravas, oysters, roasted Padrón peppers, Boquerones and Russian salad (a Spanish recipe). Everything was delicious and so authentic; the only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the Russian salad. We were all waiting to receive a spicy pepper from the plate, but alas we were out of luck.
We had two surprise visits before our last stop: Bar Marsella (a place that was once famous for Absinthe) and a small bakery where we picked up some traditional Catalan desserts. At Bar Marsella Vivian ordered us each a small glass of Vermouth, which is not the type of vermouth we mix with gin in the States! It was bitter, but slightly sweet and when mixed with some club soda it was actually pretty nice.
On to our final destination of the night… Bastaix. This restaurant is located in El Born, just near Plaça del Rei. We were lead to the cellar where Vivan ordered a selection of Catalan sheep, goat and cow cheeses, as well as a chocolat coulant. We also sipped on some Cava and a bottle of Gotim Bru Red (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot) from Costers del Segre. The cheese was fantastic, and I loved the cava – but the red wine went very well with the chocolate. This was a great spot for end of the night drinks and dessert, but I would love to try this place for dinner sometime as well!
If you’re in Barcelona, alone or with a significant other or friend, I highly recommend booking a trip with Spanish Trails. In addition to their tapas and wine tour, they also do day trips outside of the city to various wine regions and cultural expeditions. And if you’re doing a wine tour, request Vivian!