This article originally appeared on VICE Spain
Barcelona-based sommelier and winemaker Anouk Boitiere has worked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants over the years, such as Le Gavroche in London and Caelis in Barcelona. She knows wine intimately – from the stuff that'll cost you a month's rent per glass, to the cheap plonk that's only right for getting pissed on in the park at 16. However, I didn't meet up with Anouk to learn about the finer liquids in life, but to figure out the only thing on the mind of every stingy tourist on a boozy holiday in Spain: what's the best sangria very little money can buy me?
I carefully selected six kinds of budget sangria that are widely stocked in Spanish supermarkets, which Anouk taste tested at the Spanish VICE offices in Barcelona. During tasting, she explained to me how to differentiate the bad from the passable, and proved once and for all that you shouldn't judge a sangria by its packaging.
Conde Noble, €0.99 (£0.91) for 1.5 litres
"The Conde Noble contains a lot of artificial ingredients, but looking at the different labels on the bottles, this one seems to contain fewer chemicals than some of the others. And it smells strongly of wine, which suggest there's not as much water and sugar used, as you'd expect from such a cheap sangria. But it's still very, very sweet."
Tinto de Verano, €1.41 for 1.5 litres
"This one smells very artificial. It's just sugar and acids, really. But to be fair, the taste isn't that bad. I think that if you don't like wine but do want to drink something that vaguely resembles sangria, this would be a good choice."
Peñasol, €1.09 for 1 litre
"It may be very cheap and come in an unassuming carton, but this isn't very bad sangria. So far, it's definitely my favourite. Its aromas are of wine and cinnamon – it isn't overly sweet and tastes more fresh and balanced than a lot of other supermarket sangrias."
Don Simon, €1.25 for 1 litre
"The manufacturers mention on the carton that this is supposed to be the 'number one sangria in the world,' but I'm afraid I have to disagree. When you take a sip, the residual wine in the glass runs back down too lightly, which suggests the drink contains a lot of water. I'm certain this is made with cheap grapes – there wouldn't be much point using a good grape for a product like this. It has an irritatingly acidic smell, too.
"I think they've tried to create a sangria that is easy to drink, but I can't taste any fruit. It's sickly sweet in the mouth – like a soft drink. Honestly, I'd love to know how many of these they actually manage to sell every year."
Mar & Sol, €3.75 for 75 cl
"Well, this just smells like cough medicine. It's marketed like a finer, higher-end sangria than the rest, but it's obviously a con. It contains a lot of artificial acids. At least the other sangrias are a bit more open and honest about what they are. The way this is presented, I expected a lot more."
La Española, €4.94 for 20cl
"I really like this bottle. It's very clearly targeting tourists, but I think it works. And the colour of the sangria is more intense and developed – more like a real wine, rather than a fruity drink. There is a real jump in quality with this, compared to the ones we've tried so far. Not only was there clearly more fruit involved in making this drink; it also boasts a more complex balance of aromas and flavours, such as chocolate."
"To me, the only product that stands out from the rest – because it tastes more like wine and isn't so overtly sweet – is the cute bottle with the little Spanish hat and castanets. I wouldn't personally buy it, because it's meant for tourists looking to take home a souvenir. But honestly, it's a good product. However, if you're at the supermarket and desperate for some cheap quantity, I would recommend the Peñasol. I think it's the best of the ones that don't cost more than €1.50."
You can find Anouk's wines in Oriol Artigas Viticultors in Barcelona.