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How to order wine in Spanish

Julio 10, 2014 at 9:31 AM


When you visit a traditional Spanish winery with winetourismspain, as soon as you walk in the door you will be accompanied by an English speaking guide. This may be the owner of a traditional winery or a senior expert guide, who has a Master´s in Wine Management. Many of our exclusive, luxury boutique tours from Madrid and Bilbao are also completely led from start to finish by a senior wine expert.

But what happens when you go out for dinner during your holiday?  You may find yourself waving and gesticulating to order your wine, pointing at the menu to ask questions about the food and accidentally asking for a ´good-looking´ wine instead of a full-bodied one. Here are some useful phrases and words to use when dining out and about in Spain, which will help you choose the wine, and food, you want.

The wine


In most of Spain they pronounce the word ´vino´ with a ´b´ at the beginning of the word, so you can say ´beeno´ if you want to sound truly authentic and impress your dinner guests. You can ask for the wine menu by just saying the words ´la carta de vino, por favor? ´ with a questioning tone- the Spanish do not phrase their questions quite as politely as us English speakers!

Then, there are different types of wine. There is vino tinto (red wine), vino blanco (white wine), vino rosado (rosé wine), vino dulce (dessert wine) and vino espumoso (sparkling wine), which in Spain would be Cava, not Champagne.

You can also ask for different flavours and personalities of wine. A fruity wine would be a ´vino afrutado´, and a dry wine would be a ´vino seco´. When asking for sweet wines, take care as the direct translation of a sweet wine into Spanish, ´vino dulce´, comes across in Spanish as asking for a dessert wine (as seen above). A full bodied wine would be ´vino con cuerpo´, which means literally a wine ´with body´. Don´t make the same mistake I did and directly translate the English phrase ´full bodied´ into a ´vino con buen cuerpo´, as this refers more to the human variety of body, specifically, a good-looking one!

You might also want to ask if they sell wine by the glass: ´Tienen vino por copas?´, or which wine might go well with this dish: ´Qué vino va bien con este plato?´


Tasting the wine


Once you´ve chosen your wine, you may want to try it before you fill your glass. You will hear the waiter saying ´Quiere probar?´(Would you like to taste it?). To this you may reply, ´Sí, gracias´.
In contrast, during a professional wine tasting, they will use more professional wine tasting vocabulary, as we also do in English. In this case, your wine tasting guide will refer to ´una cata´ of wine (a taste). You may also occasionally hear this in an extremely high class or expensive restaurants, as it insinuates a more professional first sip of your wine, but this is not usual.

Let´s go straight to any problems. Does the wine taste off or bad? You can say ´Está mal, tiene un defecto´, which means that it is not that you don´t like it, but that there is a problem with the wine. Is your bottle of blanco (white) or rosado (rosé) a little warm? You can say, ´Está caliente´ (it is warm, or it is not cold enough). You can also ask for a ´cubierta´, which is a wine bucket (take care not to order ´cubiertos´, as this is cutlery).

If you would like another bottle of wine, you only have to say ´Otra botella de vino, por favor?´. You pronounce the word ´botella´ (bottle) with a ´y´ sound where the double ´l´ sits: ´bot-ey-a´. If you are familiar with word ´paella´, this might ring a bell: ´Pa-ey-a´.


You can practice these pronunciations before you head out onto the streets to your restaurant, or perhaps take a note of the words with you to help you order the wine. Even better, bookmark this blog on your smartphone for help on the go.

Look out for our next blog on tips for how to order a great wine in Spain. Salud! (Cheers!)



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