For hundreds of years the Dutch drank beer with their borrelhapjes, a bar snack with quirky names such as Bitterballen, Frikandel or Kaasstengels. But Spanish tourists visiting Amsterdam are more likely to describe them as a “greasy little tapa”.
Beer is king in Amsterdam, but consumers are increasingly interested in wine. In fact, so interested that they import more than 12 million cases of wine yearly, and mostly from France. Times are changing though and French wine is dropping in popularity, making way for wines from countries such as Chile and South Africa, according to a 2015 survey by Vinexpo and IWSR. So why is Spain not taking advantage of this opportunity?
“I think Spain has never been really good at communicating what makes their wines special. Too much of a ‘me too strategy’ at a lower price. After 30 years, this has become very boring and few consumers in Amsterdam are aware that it is in the six to 10 euro segment where Spain is producing insanely good wine”, explains Dutch digital wine marketeer Emilio Saez van Eerd.
For Dutch consumers, there are three decisive factors when choosing a wine: pricing, sustainability and brand. With Spain being famous for both competitive prices and having the largest area under organic vine in the world (more than 80,000 hectares), it is easy to see why Spanish wines ought to have a great future in the Netherlands.
To get a good wine experience in Amsterdam you need to be selective. We have listed a few options at different price points. This is where we stock up on Spanish wines when we visit Amsterdam!
Cash-strapped wine lovers could have a look at the selection of supermarkets such as Albert Heijn and Jumbo. Shelves are organized in terms of taste profiles rather than origin, an increasingly popular strategy in The Netherlands. According to Emilio Saez van Eerd, this has benefitted wines from lesser known areas that were previously placed on the “other wines” section. We were very happy to see Mesta Tempranillo, a modern and extremely likable organic red from Cuenca, competitively priced at Albert Heijn (€4.99/75cl).
Check out Albert Heijn stores in Amsterdam here.
If you ever get thirsty while relaxing in the Vondelpark, The Gouden Ton is just around the corner. The ambiance reminds of a library —old dark wood and knowledgeable staff make choosing a wine a truly pleasurable experience. This wine lovers’ paradise has been in business since the famous classification of Bordeaux wines in 1855. A bottle of Fino Eléctrico by Toro Albalá (€8.50/50cl) was my favourite pick. This bargain Montilla made with Pedro Ximénez grapes is a rich and textured white wine crafted to impress and delight.
Wilemsparkweg 158, Amsterdam +31 20 679 62 31.
GlouGlou is a new winebar at the Tweede van der Helststraat. Although it was revamped by the owners, the place still maintains a classical feel. One thing that you notice when you step into Glouglou is that the Dutch drink white wine like it was water! Statistics from the British organization CBI reveal that sales of white wine in the Netherlands are surprisingly higher than sales of red! Glouglou only serves natural wines with as little additives as possible.
Tweede van der Helststraat 3, Amsterdam, +31 20 233 8642.
This is a little gem on one of the oldest and narrowest streets in Amsterdam. Over 50 selections are generally served by the glass, and many many more by the bottle. If you are interested in older vintages I recommend the 1997 Cims de Porrera Classic Priorat (€135/75cl) —after 20 years of aging in the bottle it shows the full mineral complexity of a mature Priorat. There are still a few bottles left! Bubbles & Wine is within walking distance of Dam Square, so you can relax with a glass of wine after sightseeing.
Nes 37, Amsterdam +31 20 422 33 18.
Chef Maripaula gained experience in San Sebastian and is now cooking her northern Spanish cuisine in the heart of Amsterdam. At Tasca Bellota you will see guests frequently enjoying bubbly, an increasingly trendy drink in Amsterdam. 90% of this growth is Prosecco, not Cava (Drinks International, 2015).
Herenstraat 22, Amsterdam +31 20 420 29 46.
Vino delivered to your hotel! Amsterdam has a moderate Atlantic climate and, as such, enjoys fairly mild winters and summers. Another effect of being on the coast is the rain, and for days like that there is nothing better than to stay indoors and order some wine online! Online sales only account for 3% of the wine market in The Netherlands, but the category in expected to grow. Wine in Blank are specialised in premium wines. We recommend their Rioja vs Ribera case (€119.96) with three bottles from each region to compare. Who will win the battle?