Compared to most destinations around Europe, wine in Spain has an exceptional price-to-quality ratio. In Spain, there’s literally a wine for every wallet whether you’re a high roller or on a budget. This is a country where wine starts at under €1 for a bottle (that’s not a misprint!).
And there’s something to be said for a culture where everyone’s favorite fermented grape beverage is such a part of the daily fabric of people’s lives that there is local wine available for any price point — even Cheapos!
But even in a culture where wine is for everyone, there are some easy tricks to incorporate into your repertoire to save on Spanish wines during your time in Barcelona, Madrid and beyond. Here are a few of our favorites tips to help you make the most of your wine budget while you’re in Iberia.
• Spain Budget Travel Guide: 50 Ways to save in Spain
• Madrid Cheap Eats: 8 Tips to save on dining and drinking in Madrid
• The Best Food in Spain: Here are 7 dishes to try in Spain
1. Order house wine
Unless you’re picky when it comes to wine or you’re looking for a certain vintage or varietal, chances are you’ll be pleased with the house wine served in Spanish restaurants and bars. Most importantly for Cheapos, it will give you significant savings when dining out — think €2-3 per glass or €6-7 for a whole carafe!
If you’re drinking in a party of two or more, try to agree on a vintage and order by the bottle or carafe instead of by the glass. With lovely bottles of Spanish reds and whites and even sparkling Cavas starting at €8, it’s a better bargain than ordering a glass or two each.
If you want to drink wine for less like a local, order a really cheap tipple called vino turbio. It’s usually very cheap wine, served cold and shaken up to make it a little bubbly. However, it’s not available just anywhere — think hole-in-the-wall style neighborhood taverns.
3. Shop for bottles at wine stores
Looking for a bottle of wine for a picnic or to take one home as a souvenir? You’re far better off buying wine at neighborhood shops. While supermarket wines in Spain are plenty cheap, there’s a wider selection for similar prices in specialized wine shops.
At shops, you’ll have access to an expert who can help you find the perfect bottle and may even invite you to taste it beforehand. For the best prices, steer clear of shops in central, touristy spots (think La Rambla in Barcelona or Plaza de Sol in Madrid). There is an exception to this rule: the wine shops in local food markets. They’re usually competitively priced, have English-speaking staff on hand and tend to be set up for customer tastings.
4. Organize your own winery visit
You don’t always have to stick to organized tours of wineries. Instead, after you’ve had a bottle of wine that you really enjoy or on a recommendation from a local or expert at a wine shop, rent a car or hop public transit to the winery of your choice.
Just be sure to call ahead to make sure there’s someone to receive you and that the winery in question allows tours. Many wineries in Spain allow visits, and the cost is in the single digits or even free of charge for a tour and a taste of one of the vintages made on site.
Ready to hit the road to search for the best wine? Here are our best tips for renting a car in Spain.
5. Try wines from lesser-known regions and wineries
Rioja may be Spain’s best-known wine region, and Cordoniu and Freixenet may be Catalonia’s most famous producers of Cava (Spain’s famous sparkling wine) but that also means these products are widely exported, resulting in higher price tags. And as all Cheapos know, bigger prices don’t always equal better quality.
For inexpensive, hearty reds, try a bottle from Ribera de Duero, a wine region within an easy drive of Madrid that reminds us a little of Tuscany. In Basque Country, skip the Cava and seek out the refreshing slightly sparkling regional wine, Txacoli.
Bonus Tip: Buy Spanish wines in other destinations
Now that we’ve established that buying Spanish wine in Spain is very cheap, did you know Spanish wines are among the cheapest and best available in other parts of the world? In places we’ve visited around the UK, Spanish wines are always among the cheapest on offer. And on a recent trip to San Francisco, we noticed that Spanish Riojas were cheaper than many of the Sonoma California wines up for sale — even with the added expense of importation and long-haul shipping. Salud!
Want to read more about buying wine around Europe? Check out these articles:
• 6 Tips for buying wine in France on a budget
• Buying wine like a local in Florence
• Visiting Slovakia’s affordable wine region