Famous for their elegant wines and of course Sangria!
Sangria is drink made of wine and fruits and usually is made from simple wines. You will find sangria in areas frequented by tourists. Spanish prepare sangria for fiestas and hot summer, and not every day as seen in touristic regions like Mallorca.
Sangria in restaurants aimed for foreigners are best avoided, but it is a very good drink to try if a Spaniard prepares it for a fiesta!
The pale sherry wine around Jerez called "fino" is fortified with alcohol to 15 percent. If you would like to have one in a bar you have to order a fino. Manzanilla is bit salty, good as an appetizer. Amontillado and Oloroso are a different types of sherry were the oxidative aging process has taken the lead.
Wine in Spain
Spain is a country with great wine-making and drinking traditions: 22% of Europe's wine growing area is in Spain, however the production is about half of what the French produce. Regions: The most famous wines come from Rioja region, less known but also important comes from Ribera del Duero, Priorato, Toro and Jumilla . The latter are becoming more and more popular and are slightly less expensive than Rioja wines. White, rose and red wines are produced, but the red wines are certainly the most important ones. Wine bars: they are more and more popular. In short, a wine bar is a sophisticated tapas bar where you can order wine by the glass. You will immediatily see a blackboard with the wines that are available and the price per glass. In Madrid, the Hapsburg neighborhood has become Madrid's wine bar heaven. To enjoy a food & wine tour of this area you can join the Old Madrid Tapas & Wine Tour. Grapes: The main red grapes are Tempranillo, Garnacha, Monastrell and Mencia. The primary white grape used is Albarino, and the grapes used in Jerez are: 'Pedro Ximenez and Palomino. Specific names: Valdepenas is good value for money. Whites: Belondrade Y Lurton regarded as greatest white wine in Spain. Vina Sol is good as a mass product, with fruity taste. Grades: Spanish quality wines are produced using an aging process and they have been in a oak barrel for at least one year before they can be labeled Crianza and then spend another two years in a bottle before been sold. Reservas are aged for five years and Gran Reservas are aged for 10 years. Prices: Spain has seen a tremendous rise in wine prices over the last decade and Spanish wines are not as much of a bargain as they were a decade ago. However you will still find 5, 10 and 20 year old wines at affordable prices especially when compared with similar quality wines from Australia, Chile, France, and the US. In a bar: For red wine in a bar, ask "un tinto por favor", for white wine "un blanco por favor", for rose: "un rosado por favor".
Wine-based drinks: Young people in Spain have developed their own way to have wine. When having botellones (big outdoor parties with drink and lots of people), most of them will be mixing some red wine with Coke and drink such mix straight from the Coke bottle. The name of this drink is calimocho or kalimotxo (in the Basque Country and Navarre) and is really very popular... But don't ask for it while in an upper class bar, or among adults, since they will most certainly not approve of the idea! As a general rule, any wine that comes in a glass bottle is considered "too good" to make kalimotxo.
Alcohol in Spain
The drinking age in Spain is 18. People under this age are forbidden to drink and buy alcoholic drinks, although enforcement in tourist and clubbing areas is lax. Drinking in the streets has recently been banned (although it is still a common practice in most nightlife areas).
Beer in Spain
The Spanish beer is not too bad and well worth a try. Most popular local brands include San Miguel, Cruzcampo, Mahou, Ambar, Estrella Galicia, Keller and many others, including local brands at most cities; import beers are also available. A great beer is 'Mezquita' (Cervezas Alhambra), try to find it! Also "Legado de Yuste" is one of the best beer made in Spain, and is quite extended, but more expensive than a normal 'caña'. In Spain, beer is often served from a tap in 25 cl ("caña") or 33 cl ("tubo") tube glasses. Bigger servings are rare, but you can also ask for a "corto", "zurito" (round the Basque country) or simply "una cerveza" or "tanque" (south of the country) to get a half size beer, perfect to drink in one go and get quickly to the next bar while having tapas.
If you're in Zaragoza (or Aragon, in general), the Pilsner-type Ambar (5.2% alc.) and the stronger Export (double malt, 7.0% alc.) are available. Ambar 1900: Its production began in 1996. The system of fermentation to room temperature is used. Marlen is a beer of traditional manufacture using malted barley and hops.
Locals in Aragon often add lemon juice to their beer. Particularly on hot summer days people will drink a refreshing "clara" which is a light beer mixed with lemon/lemonade.
Cava is Spanish sparkling wine and the name went from Spanish Champagne to Cava was after a long lasting dispute with the French. The Spanish called it for a long time champan, but the French argued that champagne can be made only from grapes grown in the Champagne region in France. Nevertheless, Cava is a quite successful sparkling wine and 99% of the production comes from the area around Barcelona.
Cider in Spain
Can be found in the Basque Country, Galicia and Asturias.
A milky non-alcoholic drink made of tigernuts and sugar. Alboraia, a small town close to Valencia, is regarded as a best place where horchata is produced.
Brandy in Spain
Brandy de Jerez is a brandy that is produced only in the Jerez area of Andalusia, Spain (exclusively within the municipal boundaries of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the province of Cádiz). Besides being sold as a brandy, it is also an ingredient of some sherries. Like sherry, it has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
Bars in Spain
Probably one of the best places to meet people in Spain is in bars. Everyone visits them and they are always busy and sometimes bursting with people. There is no age restriction imposed to enter these premises although children and teenagers often will not be served alcoholic drinks. Age restrictions for the consumption of alcohol are clearly posted at bars but are enforced only intermittently. It is not uncommon to see an entire family at a bar.
It's important to know the difference between a pub (which closes at 3-3:30AM) and a club (which opens until 6-8AM but is usually deserted early in the night).
On weekends, the time to go out for copas (drinks) usually starts at about 11PM-1AM which is somewhat later than in North and Central Europe. Before that, people usually do any number of things, have some tapas (raciones, algo para picar), eat a "real" dinner in a restaurant, stay at home with family, or go to cultural events. If you want to go dancing you will find that most of the clubs in Madrid are relatively empty before midnight (some do not even open until 1AM) and most won't get crowded until 3AM. People usually go to pubs, then go to the clubs until 6-8AM.
For a true Spanish experience, after a night of dancing and drinking it is not unusual to have a breakfast of chocolate con churros with your friends before going home. (CcC is a small cup of thick, melted chocolate served with freshly fried sweet fritters used for dipping in the chocolate, yum)
Bars are mainly to have drink and a small tapa while socializing and decompressing from work or studies. Usually Spaniards can control their alcohol consumption better than their northern European neighbors and drunken people are rarely seen at bars or on the streets. A drink, if ordered without an accompanying tapa, is often served with a "minor" or inexpensive tapa as a courtesy.
Size and price of tapas changes a lot throughout Spain. For instance, it's almost impossible to get free tapas in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona while you can eat for free (just paying for the drinks), with huge tapas at cities like Granada or Badajoz.
The tapa, and the related pincho, trace their existence in Spain to both acting as a cover ("Tapa") on top of a cup of wine to prevent flies from accessing it, and as a requirement of law when serving wine at an establishment during the middle ages.