Rioja’s best wine bars

Wine glasses with bar in background

Tapas, pinchos or pintxos (as it is written in Rioja Alavesa and the rest of the Basque Country) come in various forms and sizes. But regardless of the wording, everyone agrees that they are small appetisers served alongside a drink.

Understanding this is important. Locals usually have pinchos between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, before going home for lunch, or between 8pm and 9.30pm, just before dinner. Go for pinchos at 7pm and you might be faced with an empty counter instead of the colourful array of snacks you expected.

Size does matter, so be suspicious of bars with lots of oversize pinchos – quantity usually means lower quality. Also bear in mind that a bar with quality pinchos doesn’t necessarily serve wines of equal quality. While many bodegas offer tastings with some appetisers, finding wine bars outside Logron?o to sample Rioja’s diverse, terroir-driven, quality wines remains a challenge.

If you’re hungry, order raciones: cooked-to-order platters that may range from charcuterie to fried calamari. When a full racio?n is too large, try a media racio?n, which is half the quantity. Or, for something a bit more substantial, a menu? del di?a makes a great lunch option on weekdays. Costing less than €25, it usually includes three courses and wine.

In this article, we begin in Logron?o before heading west.


Marque?s de Vallejo 14, Logron?o

Just before the pandemic, sommelier Oleg Buyalo moved from London to Logron?o to open Roots, an independent wine bar that quickly gained a reputation for its ever-changing selection of bottles and wines by the glass. With his menu full of small producers from Rioja but also featuring niche wines from elsewhere, Buyalo is always happy to advise his customers, many of whom work in the wine trade and flock here to share a bottle of wine in the evening.

Since the move to a larger venue with an outdoor terrace, Roots serves breakfast with locally roasted coffee and sourdough bread made in-house. At other times, you can drink your wine with gildas (anchovies, guindilla peppers and green olives on wooden skewers) and small platters of salmon gravlax, patatas bravas or beef cheeks in red wine sauce.

Open Wed to Sun, 9am-12am.

Roots owner Oleg Buyalo (centre) serving wine to customers sitting outside

Roots owner Oleg Buyalo (centre)


San Juan 25, Logron?o

Two things will draw your attention at this bar: the dozens of tapas lined up along the counter and the enormous chalkboard listing more than 100 wines. Available by the glass (via Coravin) or bottle, 90% of the selection is from Rioja and features a combination of classic names and lesser-known producers.

Unsurprisingly, Tastavin is a firm favourite among wine lovers and foodies, who huddle in the bar or sit at the handful of tables at the back to enjoy its crispy bread toasts with an endless variety of toppings. Other tapas and raciones are made to order, for example squid in tempura with kimchi mayonnaise, or steak tartare. It gets crowded in the evenings so booking a table is recommended.

Open Tue to Thu, 8pm-12am and Fri-Sun, 1pm-3.30pm and 8pm-12am.

Interior of Tastavin


Umm No So?lo Tapas

Marque?s de Vallejo 10, Logron?o

A couple of doors down from Roots is this venue serving a huge variety of neatly laid out tapas in glass cabinets, resembling a jeweller’s shop. There are classics such as vermouth-marinated olives, as well as fusion bites like pulled-pork brioche with pickled onion. But if you want to try a local speciality with a contemporary twist, order a racio?n of pig’s ear in garlic, coriander and tomato sauce and you’re guaranteed to say ‘umm’ (‘yum’ in Spanish).

You can sit at tables inside or on the outdoor terrace, which is popular on weekend evenings. The by-the-glass wine list features a dozen reds from Rioja and a few whites and rose?s, along with a couple of local vermouths.

Open Tue to Sun, 12pm-4pm and 7.30pm-12am.

A dish at Umm No Sólo Tapas

Umm No Sólo Tapas


Pa?ganos 35, Laguardia

Specialising in grilled meat, Sugar (written ‘Svgar’) is no longer a pincho bar but offers a…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/riojas-best-wine-bars-527344/