San Sebastian

Overview of San Sebastian

Spain’s coastal town of San Sebastian is the perfect stepping stone between two of SmoothRed’s most-loved wine regions: Rioja in Spain and Bordeaux in France. Just two hours drive south and you’re drinking the finest Riojan tempranillo and only five hours north the full bodied cabernet sauvignons and merlots of Bordeaux.

San Sebastian is within comfortable driving distance of excellent vine growing areas such as Bizkaia, Getoria and Araba. It’s also close to the Navarra region famed for its light Rose wines, usually produced by local, family run bodegas. Cresting La Concha bay in the Cantabrian Sea, a relaxing wine break in San Sebastian boasts excellent tasting opportunities alongside walks on the beach and outstanding cuisine.

Head to San Sebastian in the warmer months and spend a day or day relaxing on one of the city’s three fabulous beaches of Playa de La Concha, Playa de La Ondarreta (to the west of La Concha), and Zurriola.

Sophisticated San Sebastian is a cultured, epicurean hotspot in the Spanish Basque region, the influences of which are easy to spot, hear and taste. One must do activity is to wander the old town and savour the miniature gourmet delights in one of the numerous pintxos bars, where there’s excellent wine to be had too.

It’s in the old town of ‘Donostia’ where you’ll find the basilica of Santa María del Coro and Iglesia San Vicente. Further, the San Telmo Museum, located in an old convent, and the Plaza de la Constitución Square, ideal for people watching, are worth visiting too.

An hour to the west of San Sebastian is the city of Bilbao, where the Guggenheim Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a must see.

The Denominación de Origen Calificada for the Rioja label originates a little further to the south along the Rio Ebro, yet San Sebastian in particular produces its own version of a Rioja. The Rioja Alavesa grape is grown at altitude in chalky soils and is famed for having a full bodied, yet soft and fruity taste.

You’re also likely to taste fabulous Navarra wines during a wine-enthused break in San Sebastian. It’s a grape trying to standalone from its big brother Rioja and indeed has its own Denominación de Origen. Again these vineyards are tended at higher altitudes on the slopes of the lower Spanish Pyrenees and create amazing Rose wines, or locally speaking ‘Rosados’, of course.

Perhaps the most famous wine closest to San Sebastian is the rather Basque sounding Txakoli, a semi-sparkling dry white wine. A perfect accompaniment to pintxos whilst kicking back in a buzzing bar on a balmy summer evening in downtown Donostia…

Let’s not forget that San Sebastian itself is arguably Spain’s most famous region for food. It boasts more Michelin stars per square meter than anywhere else in Europe (only beaten by Kyoto in Japan) which makes it a food lovers Mecca. San Sebastian, in fact the whole Gipuzkoa region, is touted as one the world’s gastro capitals.

Old town Parte Vieja’s pintxos establishments are legendary, locals even belong to food societies to meet and discuss the vagaries of who’s serving what with what! Each bar tends to have a signature dish or especialidad de la casa to be precise, be sure to find out what this is before ordering. It’s amazing what delicious concoctions appear at the end of a cocktail stick in San Sebastian; from Gilda (pickled anchovy, olive and pepper) to Txuleta (grass fed beef, cooked rare) through to mussels and cheeses. Loosen your belts and head out to the old town.

Hotel Maria Cristina

Description Hotel Maria Cristina is a five star belle-epoque style hotel in San Sebastian which…

Spain, San Sebastian

San Sebastian wine trips

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We came to Bordeaux for part of our honeymoon and took the First Growth Bordeaux tour. SmoothRed worked with us to curate a trip based on our desires. The 8 Chateaux we visited, the 3 delicious lunches, and the hotel were wonderful, but what set the trip apart was our…

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