The joys and frustrations of Catalan wine drinking

Take a look at the sign below. It’s a wine menu from a wine bar in Barcelona next to church, Santa Maria del Mar. It’s an exceedingly popular place that I’ve never actually been able to visit at it’s always full. The setting is quite fantastic, so it’s understandable why there are always so many people. It happens that I had never really looked at the wine list though.
They offer tiny glasses, regular glasses, and full bottles. Yeah, you can buy a full bottle for what a glass can cost in San Francisco. Disgusting, isn’t it? It also happens that there are only two wines from Catalonia on that list. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be rather ridiculous in a region swimming in excellent local wines.

I take this in two ways. The first is that I’m ecstatic that the wines of Catalonia as so hidden and no one knows about them so I can continue to enjoy them by the caseload at what I find to be reasonable prices. But then on the other hand, this is crap. If you actually have something good that is local, why on earth would you serve something that isn’t just from another region, but another country?!! It’s wasteful to transport things like this and insulting to your fellow countrymen.

Admittedly, there is the cost issue in that Catalan people perceive Catalan wines to be much, much more expensive than a region like Rioja. What you may not know is that in the rest of Spain, Catalans have a reputation for being cheap. Unfortunately these Catalans don’t realize that the cheap wines from Rioja are going to rot out your innards. While drinkable, they’re poorly made. For a decent wine from Rioja, you actually have to pay more than for a wine of the same quality from Catalonia and really, it’s the better wines from Rioja that people are buying because it’s only based on perception, not taste. I’ve been in a constant propaganda campaign with my Catalan father-in-law to actually buy Catalan wines instead of cheap French ones. Because if you want to go really cheap, you can spend 1.50€ a liter for the bulk stuff which is really good and super cheap.

Again, it’s a mixed blessing drinking wines that no one knows about or understands. It’s just that growing up in a country that has shipped its entire production base off to China, I get a little incensed when someone buys an inferior product solely due to laziness, ignorance, and limited perception. Who knows, someday maybe I’ll have have a glass of wine at this wine bar in Barcelona and be able to ask them why they stock more wines from outside Spain than from Catalonia. Undoubtedly they’ll tell me because no one asks for them to which I will further mention that it’s hard to ask for something that isn’t on the list…

The joys and frustrations of Catalan wine drinking