When I first heard the phrase, “Barcelona Wine Bar is an experience,” I thought it was just clever marketing. Little did I know I would soon realize how true a phrase it is. The Mediterranean wine bar, with its convenient corner location in the lively RiNo neighborhood, intimate interior of natural wood and warm, glowing lights, and private outdoor dining area is an attraction solely by way of aesthetic. But also housed within its brick walls is a gracious staff and incredible menu and wine selection.
Like any memorable, conversational meal, it began with warm, freshly-baked bread and house olive oil for dipping, which set the stage for the indulgence I was about to experience. Wanting to get a proper lay of the land, I ordered from an array of tapas, ensuring to try the buttery Potato Tortilla, a traditional dish and sign of hospitality in Spanish homes, made authentically at Barcelona with layers of shaved potato and served with a tasty chive sour cream.
The one tapa not to be ignored, though, is the Jamon (ham) and Manchego Croquetas. Have you ever taken a bite of something that was so blissfully decadent, it instantly changed your life? That’s what awaits you with Barcelona’s Croquetas—a light, crispy exterior containing a deliciously warm mixture of Spanish ham and Manchego cheese, with just the right, slight spice. And, the Croquetas are served with a mouthwatering garlic aïoli that takes the decadence to an entirely new level.
Once I came back to reality from that religious experience, I was ready to dive into my entrée, the Paella Salvaje. A savory combination of tender pork loin, chicken thigh, chorizo, and chickpeas over a bed of seasoned rice, the Paella truly made me feel like I was eating supper at home in Spain, tasting the flavors of the country and satisfying my palate in every way. Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, so I ordered the Flan Catalán to top off the evening and it more than exceeded my expectations. The custard was of perfect texture and rich in flavor, with a caramel sauce sweet enough to delight and light enough to leave you longing for more. I was in heaven.
Because Barcelona is a wine bar, I obviously paired the evening’s samplings with a glass (or two) of a red wine by the name of Le Naturel, from Spain. A medium-to-full-bodied red, you could smell the fragrant notes of blueberries, raspberries, and black currant before even taking a sip. The juicy, fruit-forward wine was a perfect pair for the light, palatable dishes and just may be my new favorite red wine; it’s clear that the Barcelona team knows exactly what it’s doing.
Moreover, the restaurant prides itself on a combination of hospitality and influence of Spanish culture, with an admirable focus on educating people. “We take the guest experience very seriously,” says Barcelona RiNo general manager James Baetke. “We do not settle and we push boundaries to make people really happy. It’s personal to us.” Barcelona’s wine list is curated by a top-notch beverage team with the bulk of the list credited to Gretchen Thomas, who currently serves as the VP of Food and Beverage Innovations. “She has developed such close relationships with wine makers,” says Baetke. “Many of whom are women who are a minority in the world of wine production.
Guests are encouraged to sample from the wide range of styles, blends, and flavors from Spain, South America, and the Mediterranean, in addition to a broad list of ports, sherries, wine-based cocktails, and beer to discover new drinks they love. “Guests can be intimidated by wine, so we spend a lot of time making sure our team has a base knowledge and [is] proficient but not stuffy when educating,” says Baetke. Experience, indeed.
BARCELONA WINE BAR
2900 Larimer St
Photography by Joni Schrantz