Six Madrid bars showcasing stellar local wines 


This article is part of a guide to Madrid from FT Globetrotter

Local indie labels are shaking up Madrid’s wine scene. Pushing out Spain’s established classics, wines from small regional bodegas (the word for anywhere wine is made, matured or sold) such as Las Moradas de San Martín, Licinia and Cuarto Lote have been sliding up the chalkboard menus in cutting-edge wine bars across the city. The trend is driven by a young audience of ethically conscious connoisseurs eager to try something different and support local winemakers. Stellar Garnachas (Grenache) from the Sierra de Gredos are particularly popular, as the subtler fruit-forward wines quietly challenge the supremacy of the heavy-hitting Tempranillos that have long dominated wine lists.  

Luke Darracott, who owns a wineshop in Madrid, is delighted to see these names finally receiving the recognition they deserve. With his business partner, Roque Madrid, Darracott has long sung the praises of local winemakers on the podcast The Spanish Wine Experience. However, it has been a struggle to get the message across on home turf: while overseas customers have historically been keen to try Madrid wines, Madrileños have been slower to take them up. “A lot of bars haven’t had the confidence to break out of the cycle and put a Madrid wine on,” says Darracott. “Historically, the cheap Madrid wine was horrendous or the good stuff was really expensive. It’s meeting in the middle now [in terms of price], so there are no more excuses.” Now, in-store sales in store are creeping up with one demographic, in particular, leading the way. “It tends to be younger people — in general, they are happier to take a chance.” 

One of the factors attracting young Madrileños to local wines is the biodynamic and organic practices employed by many of the 51 bodegas within the region. Another is that buying local doesn’t limit choice. As Madrid DO (Denominación de Origen) is spread across three zones within the 8,000 sq km administrative region of the Comunidad de Madrid, the area includes a wide variety of soil types and altitudes. 

The most famous zones are San Martín de Valdeiglesias in the Gredos mountains and the Arganda region around the pretty town of Chinchón. Each has a signature grape: in San Martín, this is the aromatic white Albillo, a variety with white-fruit flavours on the palate; while Arganda holds its own with its floral Malvar, a grape with a slight citric twist. Throw in varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and you’ve got an exciting mix of styles that has sparked the imaginations of the city’s sommeliers. With brand new and a few established wine bars embracing this trend, here’s our pick of the best.

Taberna Averías

Calle de Ponzano 16, 28010 Madrid
  • Good for: With about 400 wines available by the glass, the range on offer is pretty much unbeatable

  • Not so good for: An elegant night out. Dress down, not up

  • FYI: The huge range on offer is down to Coravin use, the ingenious device that allows users to pour wine without removing the cork. While this is supposed to prevent oxidisation, more delicate wines, such as Garnacha, might not stay the distance. Always taste the wine before a full pour to ensure it’s up to snuff

  • Local wines by the glass: €3.10–€14.30

  • Website; Directions

– a 2016 Tagonius Crianza – being poured into a wine glass on a black and white marble counter at aberna Averías
The chalkboard wine menu at Taberna Averías

Nights out on Calle de Ponzano, a bustling street in the Chamberí neighbourhood that’s famous for food and drink, are the thing of legend — and Taberna Averías is no exception to this rule. It draws a young trendy crowd up until the wee hours. I decide to go early on a Thursday evening, before it gets bursting, so I can ask about Madrid DO wines and pairings in a relatively relaxed setting (there’s still a punk rock soundtrack blasting away in the background). Sommelier Rodrigo Stockler delivers a detailed rundown of the local wine scene — bemoaning the fact that the older generation always sticks to Tempranillos from Rioja or Ribera — at machine-gun speed. 

Delighted to show off a local wine, he suggests I kick off with a 2016 Tagonius Crianza from Arganda. Lighter than a Ribera or Rioja, its blend of Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah still carries enough heft to partner well with one of the tavern’s specialities: a rich veal cheek empanada (€8.20). 

The interior of Taberna Averías, with stools against a wall facing the bar
Sommelier Rodrigo Stockler at a table in Taberna Averías, with a bottle and glass of red wine beside him

Next up is a semi-sweet white, a 2017 Malvar from Cuarto Lote in Arganda. Just as I’m appreciating its zingy apple-driven flavours, a friendly pair of older gents enter and look up at the huge array of options chalked up over one entire wall. Visibly blanching, they ask for a Ribera. Stockler raises an eyebrow at me and lets out a gentle sigh. It won’t be until later in the evening when the place fills up with younger folk that more adventurous options will be ordered. Mon–Weds, 7pm–midnight; Thurs, 12.30pm–2am; Fri–Sat, 12.30pm–3am; Sun, 12.30pm–midnight

Bendito Vinos y Vinilos

Mercado de San Fernando, Calle de Embajadores 41, 28012 Madrid
  • Good for: Soaking up the ambience of a buzzing market

  • Not so good for: A proper meal. The menu is strictly limited to nibbles only

  • FYI: It can be difficult to find space inside, but you can always take your order out to the central seating area. This leaves you free to pair your wine with food from other stalls

  • Wines by the glass: €4–€6

  • Website; Directions

Bendito is located in San Fernando market

Mercado de San Fernando is part of a movement that has transformed Madrid’s municipal markets into buzzing, foodie-friendly destinations. Rubbing shoulders with butchers and grocers, small establishments such as Bendito Vino y Vinilos are bringing in a new generation of customers, revitalising once-dusty spaces. 

From the amplified hiss of a needle running over vinyl to the black and white portraits lining the walls, there’s a rural feel to Bendito’s stripped-down wooden space that blends well with the surrounding businesses. The photos on display are all of the inhabitants of the owner’s village in the remote countryside close to the Portuguese border.  

A table set with wooden cheeseboard with several pieces of cheese on it, and a glass into which red wine is being poured from a bottle
Two black and white portraits of middle-aged and elderly men and women on a wall in Bendito, behind a counter laden with wine bottles and beneath shelves stacked with glasses

This rootsy vibe of course is intentional. The crowd here is young, trendy and eager to try something that doesn’t cost the earth in both senses of the phrase. On the menu is a wide range of quirky wines, many of which are biodynamic. Local wines from small producers are well represented and more often than not available by the glass. I opt for a spicy Garnacha by Vinos Ambiz from the Sierra de Gredos. Illuminated with notes of forest fruits, it tastes even better with a cheese board (€10) and nutty sourdough — locally sourced, of course. 


Calle del León 5, 28014 Madrid
  • Good for: Great conversation with total strangers

  • Not so good for: Large groups 

  • FYI: Bocanada’s monthly pop-up events are one of the hottest tickets in town. For €35 you receive a set menu cooked by chefs from some of the city’s best restaurants 

  • Local wines by the glass: €5–€7

  • Website; Directions

The facade of Bocanda: an open black door in a smooth concrete wall, with ‘Bocanda’ in modernist lettering above the doorway
A woman placing bottles of wine in a metal dish sitting on a table in Bocanda

This intimate bar is the brainchild of Amanda Leite Fontes, a sommelier who is on close terms with many local winemakers and eager to show off what they can do. Each evening six to 10 bottles are opened, with Madrid DO wines always part of the revolving showcase. Like the wine selection, the limited food menu changes by the day depending on what’s fresh in the market, a seasonal, minimalistic approach that gives the place a modern feel. 

Despite only opening last September, word spread quickly and the place is regularly packed out. When I visit, the local wine of the evening is from near the Roman town of Segovia. It’s a surprisingly sophisticated glass of Verdejo, a grape that Leite Fontes feels has been “debased for mass-market consumption”, but in the hands of biodynamic winery Esmeralda García really reaches its full potential. 

Six bottles of wine on a small wooden shelf attached to a white-tiled wall at Bocanda
Amanda Leite Fontes, the owner of Bocanda, standing at a wooden counter

A vivacious hostess, Leite Fontes is frank and funny, creating a convivial atmosphere in which patrons are encouraged to get to know each other. The bar attracts a sophisticated clientele, so it’s perhaps no coincidence that it is right in the heart of Barrio de las Letras, an area fabled for its lively tertulias (literary salons) ever since Cervantes first wandered its streets. Weds–Fri, 7pm–11.30 pm; Sat, 1pm–4 pm, 8pm–11.30 pm; Sun, 1pm–4pm

Taberna Tempranillo

Calle de la Cava Baja 38, 28005 Madrid
  • Good for: A quiet moment of contemplation

  • Not so good for: Madrid wines by the glass — be prepared to sink an entire bottle

  • FYI: English is understood but not spoken here

  • Local wines by the glass: From €3.50

  • Directions

This is the oldest bar of the bunch and by far the most traditional. Housed in a 19th-century building on Cava Baja, one of Madrid’s most famous gastronomic destinations, it is a place to either spend a quiet moment marvelling at the impressive wall of wines behind the bar or to enjoy a hushed meal in the dining area. The vibe is very much old Spain, with a warm rustic feel that has changed little since the days when this street was a stagecoach hub. 

Wines by the glass come with a generous tapa and, on the evening in question, I am given a small plate of wonderfully fatty Iberian sausage slices. While I’m digging into these, I speak to the owner, Juan Caballero, who says he has been an advocate for local wines even before they became trendy, offering them ever since the establishment opened in 1995. 

Though local wines are sometimes available by the glass, this isn’t the case on my visit. As I don’t feel up to consuming an entire bottle of Licinia alone, Caballero instead suggests pairing quail breast on toast with a 2020 Prados Colección Garnacha from Campo de Borja. The peppery wine elevates the smoky flavours of the seared meat, creating a sublime experience that keeps me buoyed up as I wend my way home through the pretty medieval streets of La Latina. Mon, 8pm–midnight; Tues–Sun, 1pm–4pm, 8pm–midnight

La Caníbal 

Calle de Argumosa 28, 28012 Madrid
  • Good for: Reasonably priced, innovative pub food

  • Not so good for: A quiet drink. Be ready to shout over the din

  • FYI: The wines on tap are a great deal, especially if you order a carafe

  • Local wines by the glass: €3–€6

  • Website; Directions

A detail of the front window at La Caníbal, with the bar’s name in graffiti-style font surrounded by vividly coloured illustrations of wine glasses, flames and baloons
A carafe being filled with wine from one of a row of taps behind the bar at La Caníbal

This lively tavern caters to both wine and artisanal beer aficionados with a large selection of both beverages on tap. The atmosphere is down to earth and friendly. Straight in the door and I’m greeted by a busy yet unflustered waiter who seems to be riding the wave of convivial energy coming from the boisterous Friday night crowd. 

I am soon seated with a glass of Malvar in hand. One of La Caníbal’s own-label wines, this is made from Arganda’s signature grape. Less refined than the Malvar I tried at Averías, it has a biting acidity that stings the sides of your cheeks, demonstrating the kind of rustic charm best enjoyed on a countryside picnic. To accompany it, I order the indie-cheese board (€18), an umami-tastic variety that might have been better paired with a red. 

A glass of red wine in front of rows of empty wine glasses at La Caníbal
A squid croquette on a glass dish flanked by a carafe and glass of a pinkish wine, sitting on a metal-topped table and behind which is wall shelving stacked with bottles of wine and glasses

My next dish is an exceptional plate of squid croquettes, which my waiter suggests consuming with a glass of 2018 Con Viento Fresco. It’s not from the Madrid region so my research takes a pause, though it’s a reminder that it is worth asking your server for advice — this pairing is a hit. The elegant Garnacha from Bodegas Ziríes near Toledo has liquorice hints that blend well with the earthiness of the squid ink. As the noise levels have been steadily climbing during my visit, I ask for the bill as soon as the food arrives, which by Madrid’s extremely relaxed standards is quickly. I’m soon out the door and feeling well satisfied. Mon-Fri, 9am–midnight; Sat–Sun, noon–midnight


Calle del Conde de Aranda 11, 28001 Madrid
  • Good for: Getting a proper education in Spanish wines

  • Not so good for: The health of your wallet

  • FYI: All the staff are sommeliers and are happy to help you make informed decisions about wine and food pairings

  • Local wines by the glass: €7–€10

  • Website; Directions

Just to the north of Retiro park, Vinology is one of many glittering emporiums studding the high-class district of Salamanca. Like Bocanada, it’s a new addition to the city’s roster of wine bars. It opened in 2022 with a mission to promote artisanal produce with a low carbon footprint, be it steak tartare from the nearby Guadarrama mountains (€29) or a Madrid DO wine. With a menu packed with information about grape varieties and terroir, Vinology is the perfect place to discover more about the complex world of Spanish wine. 

While the interior decor with its exposed brick and sepia palate of its furnishings was a little vanilla for my taste, it certainly doesn’t intrude on the experience of sampling the great wines on offer and I was relieved to find that, unlike many Spanish bars, loud music was not on the menu. I opt for a 2019 Senda Garnacha from one of the most famous names in the Sierra de Gredos: Las Moradas de San Martín. 

As I sip this light, fruity number, I chat with the enthusiastic sommelier about the bodega: because of its remote location, Las Moradas even holds wine tastings by night during which you can look at the heavens through a telescope. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get to many of these wineries by public transport, which is why places like Vinology and Madrid & Darracott provide such a good service: both offer trips to local wineries as well as regular wine tastings. Mon, 7pm–midnight; Tues–Weds, 1pm–midnight; Thurs–Sat, 1pm to 1am

Three Madrid wineries to visit

Licinia Wines Conveniently situated within the pretty little town of Morata de Tajuña, Licinia is famed for producing some of the best wines in the Arganda region. A tasting trip includes a visit to Licinia’s vineyards where a range of grapes are grown — Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah and Merlot — before going back to the winery to taste its wines with a variety of cured Iberian meats. This 2.5-hour visit can be booked via the winery’s website and costs €25. Buses to Morata de Tajuña leave from the Conde de Casal interchange.

Bodega Cuarto-Lote The most historic bodega of the bunch, this winery traces its history back to the foundation of Nuevo Baztán in 1713. Built as an agricultural and industrial centre, this model town is famed for its Baroque architecture. Wine-tasting visits to Bodega Cuarto-Lote cost €18 (minimum 10 people) or €23, with the latter offering a more detailed historical tour. This is a good opportunity to try Arganda’s signature Malvar grape, and both packages end with a tasting of three wines. Buses to Nuevo Baztán leave from the Avenida de América interchange. Email to book.

Bodega ValleYglesias The Gredos mountain range is arguably Madrid DO’s most famous zone and yet, without a car, it’s practically impossible to visit. Luckily, if you book in for a wine experience, Bodega ValleYglesias will pick you up from the village of San Martín de Valdeiglesias, which is easily accessible by bus from Madrid’s Príncipe Pío interchange. The €45 package includes a visit to the vineyard and cellars, where you’ll learn about winemaking before tasting a handful of their wines with tapas. Email to book.

Do you have a favourite spot for sampling local wines in Madrid? Tell us in the comments below

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