Sangria on Las Ramblas

In Spain, Sangria has become a sort of tourist trap: every restaurant offers it, even if it isn’t very good and is little more than bad red wine and orange juice. More often than not, the emphasis is on quality, not quantity: on las Ramblas I was served this liter of Sangria with a supremely long straw.

I’m not complaining. I’m not above drinking a liter of sweetened wine, but a true good Sangria is a combination of several ingredients that come together and mix and end up providing a drink that’s complex and delicious, not just sweet and alcoholic with fruit floating in it.

I’m sorry to say that a lot of the Sangria that I tried in Barcelona fell into the latter category. It’s perfectly drinkable and tasty, but it isn’t what I think of when I think of Sangria. The drink I was served reminded me more of a fruity cocktail like a cosmopolitan than the Spanish beverage.

How strange, then, to find that the tiny bar Alex and I fell into (literally… I was wearing very high heels that were entirely inappropriate for a walk through the 11th) served a perfectly spicy Sangria. Alex didn’t like it as much as I did, but I couldn’t get enough. Reminiscent of mulled wine, but chilled and with an orange slice, this deep red drink featured all sorts of spices and flavors that complemented each other and the wine itself. And to top it all off, a generous glass of the house-made Sangria during happy hour was only 3.50.

So you can imagine how angry I am with myself that I managed to forget to get both the name and the address of the bar. What I can tell you is that the address is an odd-numbered building before 51, rue Montreuil. I’m planning on heading back to that neighborhood on Sunday, so I’ll be sure to make a note for any of you who may be interested in a true Sangria experience, even if it is displaced from sunny Barcelona to Paris.

Canned Sangria

With all of the Sangria I tried in Barcelona (and yes, I am one of those wacky people who loves the sweetened wine decorated with slices of fruit), it may come as a shock that one of my favorites came out of a can.

This Sangria was ready-made: much in the spirit of Starbucks doubleshot (which, for the record, I can’t stand), the guesswork of ordering a drink that is so varied because of its made-to-order nature was canceled out. This left only the parts of Sangria that I love: the sweetness, the bright red color, the certain alcohol percentage… and made sure that the parts that often make Sangria an unpleasant experience: diluted ice, old fruit, an unexpectedly disproportionate alcohol content, were nowhere to be found.

I’m not saying that this canned Sangria is the best I’ve ever had: that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I can think of an incredible Sangria cava (with white wine) that had strawberries floating in it and tasted like heaven. And I have to say that pouring my own Sangria over a plain glass of ice made me realize how much of my love for Sangria is based entirely upon the fact that traditionally, the drink comes with a free snack floating in the glass. But when it comes to deciding between an unfamiliar and possibly unpleasant version of one of my favorite apĂ©ro choices or this mediocre but consistent alternative, I’d definitely grab a can (or two) again in the future.