We knew we’d be eating and drinking our way through Barcelona. And, with relatively brief interruptions to take in the mind-bending exhibitions at the Picasso and Miro museums, and to be equally astonished by Gaudi’s and modernisme’s stamp on the city, that’s exactly what we did for a week in October.
(Our week was also broken up by a two-day jaunt to San Sebastian. But we stayed true to our modus operandi as we ate and drank our way through that beguiling Basque city as well.)
We had expected to make a steady diet of tapas and vino tinto (red wine, or vi negre in Catalan), bocadillos and tinto, and, in San Sebastian, pintxos and tinto. What we didn’t expect was to discover a wine bar unlike anything we’ve encountered in northern California and to spend an evening there sipping vino (we stuck to our tinto regimen) drawn from a cellar holding more than 3,500 bottles from around the world.
We were tipped to Monvínic by Jeff Koehler, a food writer (Rice, Pasta, Couscous) and occasional walking-tour guide who lives in Barcelona. Jeff had been spot-on with his recommendations, taking us to the best place to dip churros into chocolate and whipped cream (Granja La Pallaresa), as well as the tiny shop where virtually all the churros are made for the local cafés; making sure we ate lunch at the tiny Pinotxo tapas bar in the La Boqueria on La Rambla; and suggesting we immerse ourselves in the old-school atmosphere and Menorcan gin and tonics at the El Floridita–like bar called Boadas.
Jeff sent me a link to writer Jay McInerney’s 2010 Wall Street Journal blog post, which asked, “The Best Wine Bar in the World?” I’m certainly not the one to give that title to Monvínic. For one thing, the service was uneven: one sommelier provided copious details about the unusual and reasonably priced Spanish reds we sampled by the half-glass; another delivered a different round with nary a word nor smile. However, Monvínic’s sleek interior, novel innovations (you browse the wine list on an iPad-like tablet; you can indulge a passion for vinology in the impressive research library), and wide range of wines and Catalan cuisine (we shared a cheese platter and an elegant cod dish from the wine bar menu; the full-scale restaurant in back seems well worth a visit) added up to another one-of-a-kind experience in a city bursting at seams with them.
C/ Diputació, 249, Barcelona. +34 932 72 61 87, monvinic.com
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This ultra-modern space--part wine bar, part restaurant--has a daunting wine list with more than 3,000 labels, plus a rotating list of 50 that you can try by the glass before committing to a full bottle. Skip the iPad and put yourself into the hands of your knowledgeable server.
This is a place that I often recommend to my clients if during our tour they mention being into wine, and I have also taken people here for a glass.
It's one of my favorite secret spots in the Eixample! Instead of a wine list, they have a tablet where you can choose by glass or bottle, by grape, by country... And it tells you information on the cellar and the owner/brand.
In the afternoon, it's usually quiet, as it gets busier in the evening. But I like it quiet, because it feels so private. With your wine, you can also order some delicacies such as assorted patés. Or you might want to book a table and eat in their restaurant (still in my to-do list).
Make sure to ask them to show you their cellar. It's spectacular!
Sip amazing vintages and share small plates at Monvínic.
Schedule a tasting or simply sample a few of the over forty wines opened daily, available by the glass or half glass. Pair them with creative starters like coca bread topped with locally sourced vegetables. The fixed price lunch menu is reasonably priced, but design makes this space exceptional after dark.
Carrer de la Diputació, 249
Schedule a tasting or simply sample a few of the more than forty wines opened daily, available by the glass or half glass. Pair them with creative starters like coca bread topped with locally sourced vegetables. The prix fixe lunch menu is reasonable, but the design makes this space exceptional after dark.