Madrid’s Barrio de las Letras is the city’s historic literary neighbourhood, where many writers lived and worked, from Miguel de Cervantes to Ernest Hemingway. Today, the neighbourhood is full of excellent bars and restaurants, and here, we take a look at some of the best wine bars to check out next time you’re in Madrid.
This deli-meets-wine bar began life in 1931 as a neighbourhood shop selling meat and cheese. The original owner’s grandchildren turned it into a thriving bar and deli, with an inviting laid-back ambience and huge windows looking out onto the street (try to nab the window seat for some great people-watching). The wine list features 210 Spanish wines, of which 45 are available to try by the glass. Prices are very reasonable, starting at just €2.50 a glass. Accompany your wine with some of Casa González’s jamón, tapas and cheeses from around Spain.
With a great location right on the pretty Plaza de Santa Ana, Vinoteca Barbechera was founded by wine lovers for wine lovers. The bar was established in conjunction with the Spanish wine-making group Hispanobodegas as a place to sample wines from across the country. Sit at a barrel from one of the group’s vineyards and enjoy a range of well-priced wines alongside some hot and cold tapas including cheeses, Galician octopus and toasts.
This dark little bar is dripping in history and seems unchanged since its days as a Republican hangout during the Spanish Civil War. It’s said that Ernest Hemingway came here for the latest news from the front, and certain rules remain to this day: no taking photographs – who knows who could be a fascist spy –no tipping, and your order will be written on the bar top in chalk. La Venencia is renowned for its sherry; try a clear manzanilla and you’ll realise that Spanish sherry is so much more than the sickly sweet Christmas sherry beloved by grandparents everywhere.
This great deli-meets-wine bar is a popular local hangout, whether they’re getting cold cuts and cheeses to take away or propping up a high table at the back and enjoying some tapas and wine. The shop has been serving Las Letras residents since 1958 and was founded as a place where people could sample anything they liked before they bought it.
Not exclusively a wine bar, the rooftop bar of the grand ME Madrid Reina Victoria hotel is a glamorous place to visit, with a decent wine list as well as cocktails. Set on the buzzing Plaza de Santa Ana, it’s a hip hangout with locals and tourists and gives guests fantastic views across Madrid.
This traditional tavern is a great stop-off if you want to sample some Spanish wine in classic surroundings. Stop specialises in wine and there are over 50 varieties, all available to try by the glass. Accompany your vino with some classic tapas dishes, or if you’re there before lunch, try a glass of vermouth, a typical local aperitif.
This classic bar, which opened in 1908, is immediately recognisable by the bright tiles on its facade. Inside, the shelves are packed with dusty old tankards and beer bottles, but save the beer for later; here, you should try a glass of vermouth. This fortified wine has recently experienced a bit of a renaissance and is now one of the most popular drinks in Madrid. Enjoy it as an aperitif before heading off for lunch.