I just discovered the best Spanish secret! Well, it might not be a secret, but I had no idea. And it’s an absolutely wonderful discovery.
I’ve seen bodegas all around the city. But most look like this:
Not exactly inviting.
But, my food tour guide indicated that she regularly fills up at her local bodega for table wine. I figured if it was good enough for my local foodie tour guide, it was good enough for me.
Embarrassingly, it took me four tries:
Visit #1: When I saw the bodega around the corner from my apartment, I actually thought it was a place I read about that had good paella on Thursdays (Bodega Joan vs. Bodega Jané, common mistake) so I stopped in to ask if they offered chicken paella. The owner was clearly confused, spoke no English and repeatedly pointed at the walls of wine. Obviously no food here. I walked out, then realized maybe I could buy the cheap table wine here so I went back in to ask about filling up. The language barrier was strong and he was even more confused so I fled with no paella and no wine.
Visit #2: The next try, Jillian and I were headed up to Búnquers del Carmel and figured we’d bring some wine to enjoy up there. Closed. Although the view was pretty incredible.
Visit #3: Bound and determined to get this bodega wine, I headed over, had an awkward sign language conversation with the owner about which of the 10+ wines I’d like to try and finally chose one. He luckily knew one word of English: “sweet”. Thank you kind Catalonian man for knowing this single English word. I blindly chose another option and a very confusing 45-second conversation ensued where he spoke to me in Catalan about needing a bottle and me speaking back in English that I would simply pay extra for the bottle. He finally went behind the counter, picked up a 1.5 liter empty water bottle and he finally got his point across – I needed to bring the container in which to fill, none were for “purchase”.
Visit #4: I walked back home, downed the rest of the water bottle I had in the fridge and came back. Success!
Happy to report that I finally purchased 1.5 liters of delicious Spanish wine for a grand total of €4.50/$5.09.