When people on my Sevilla Tapas Tours ask for sangría I tell them it is NOT ALLOWED 😉 and then go on to explain why. First of all, Spanish people seldom if ever order sangría in a bar. It’s a party drink, a fruit and wine punch usually made at home or at the beach in summer. And because of this, most sangría you will find in bars is, well, crap. Often it is made up well ahead of time and can sit there in jugs for days, and sometimes bars just use store-bought sangría. Because they know that it’s “just for tourists”. Of course there are a few (very few) exceptions, with some bars making up sangría to order, either as a fresh jug to be shared or as an individual cocktail. Happily there is another “sangría-like” drink option…
Say hello to Tinto de Verano (Summer Wine). This is what locals order at bars, and also make at home, especially during the hot summer months. You simply fill a tall glass with ice, add red wine with the soda option of your choice and garnish with a slice of lemon. Tinto con Blanca is mixed with a 7-Up type soda, and Tinto con Limón with a sparkling lemonade. You can also ask for Tinto con Naranja (served with sparkling orange soda), though this is less common. The result is a fresh, light, sparkling drink that is very refreshing on a hot afternoon.
After introducing tapas tour guests to Tinto de Verano it sometimes becomes their new go-to drink for the rest of their stay. Because let’s face it, you’re on holiday and probably doing a bit more day drinking than at home, and this is a nice wine-based beverage that is lower in alcohol. In fact, you can order your Tinto de Verano with more or less red wine, as you prefer.
I don’t why sangría became known as THE must-have Spanish drink, since it is mostly enjoyed at home and only during the summer. Likewise with gazpacho. If you see a bar offering gazpacho in January it’s a good idea to walk away. And don’t get me started on paella, which is a regional dish from Valencia. So no, you will seldom find decent paella all over Spain. Not saying it’s impossible, but unless you wait a solid 45 minutes after placing your paella order, you are getting something pre-made and re-heated, and most likely ick. The WORST is when I see bars (and there are lots of them) offering the Unholy Trinity of SANGRIA! GAZPACHO! PAELLA! as a “complete” meal option. Year round. Just… don’t.
More on gazpacho and paella later, but for now, just say no to sangría. This has been a public service announcement. 🙂