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Madrid: What's Trending & Where to Sip

I made another crazy 4-day trip abroad and here’s what you need to know at a glance…

Like it or not, the 90s are coming back…and coming back strong. You may have seen those white chunky sneakers and small sunglasses around town, and I hate to break it to you…they aren’t going anywhere soon. Walking around the trendy Madrid neighborhood of Sol, I saw nothing but oversized teddy bear jackets and white Fila sneakers. FILA! Remember those? It was hard not to “sip the Kool-Aid” so to speak…I mean, when in Rome, right? After basking in all my 90s glory (I was teenager in the 90s after all), I made a few purchases and set out to find my real love…vino.

I didn’t make it to ALL the places I wanted to go, but below are my top places to sip if you’re only in Madrid for a few days:

Located in my FAVORITE neighborhood of Chueca, Vinoteca Vides is a charming wine bar offering interesting small batch wines from all over Spain. When you first walk in you’ll find the tables packed with locals sharing laughs, wine and jamón. Not to worry if you’re a tourist, the staff is super friendly and will welcome you in and get you settled at a table or the bar. The wine list is one laminated page organized by region. It was a little intimidating at first, as there were so many DOs we weren’t familiar with, but a staff member came around from behind the bar to speak with us about the wines and asked us to describe something we were looking for. Not only did he NAIL it with his suggestions, but he also spoke to each bottle thoroughly and passionately. We ended up purchasing both bottles, and would have gone back there every night if it hadn’t been a holiday weekend.

With a wine cellar holding over 700 varieties from all over the world, Restaurante Vinoteca García de la Navarra is a necessary dinner destination for all wine lovers. Owned by brothers Pedro and Luis García de la Navarra, this restaurant offered amazing seasonal specials and one of the best wine lists in the city. The place doesn’t really start filling up until 9:30pm (when in Spain), but once everyone trickled in, the space felt really cozy and intimate. I was really excited to see La Bruja De Rozas by Comando G Viticultores on the menu, as I tasted this wine at the book signing for Rajat Parr and Jordan MacKay’s book, “The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste” at Verve Wine. This Garnacha comes from just 30 minutes outside of Madrid…talk about drinking local wine! Our steak was cooked to perfection and the red pepper and egg yolk special was to die for. It was my favorite dining experience on the trip, and for your reference, you can book your reservation through Google.

photo c/o Vinoteca Garcia de la Navarra website

3. La Venencia

Sherry lovers look no further! The ultimate nightcap bar, La Venencia will make you feel like you’re stepping back into time. In fact, Earnest Hemingway himself would stop in for a drink from time to time. But don’t make the mistake of asking for a vino tinto…this is a Sherry bar ONLY and the bartender will just point to a handwritten listing of different Sherries behind the bar. According to an article written by Culture Trip, there are also a few rules that must be followed:

“No photographs (this was established during the days when La Venencia’s clientele had to be wary of fascist spies). No tipping (out of respect for the bar’s socialist principles). And no spitting on the floor (sorry). All this adds to La Venencia’s old-world charm.”

I don’t have any photos of the interior (rules are rules), but I can tell you our Manzanilla and Fino Sherries from Jerez were the best way to end our evening.

Founded in 1929 as the first ham and charcuterie shop in Madrid, Stop Madrid is your neighborhood charmer for the best jamón, cheese, and over 40 wines by the glass. Buzzing with locals, we weren’t able to snag ourselves a table but luckily there was plenty of standing room at the bar. Want some Vermouth? Not to worry, they have that on tap along with a small beer selection. I don’t know about you…but I like my jamón right were I can see it…hanging from the ceiling in front of my face!

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