Lavinia is a fantastic wine shop on a fashionable avenue that can be compared to the Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive of Madrid. The staff are all trained sommeliers, which is pretty amazing in itself. Visitors might drool over the 4,500-label selection (mostly from Spain, but also from France and virtually several other wine-producing countries) and might even buy a bottle or two for their hotel room, but are unlikely to pick up a case.
If food and wine interest you, head for Lavinia in mid-day, browse the wines and then go up a flight of stairs to El Espacio Gastronómico. From 1:30 to 4:00 p.m., daily except Sunday, chef Angel Garcia prepares classically based cuisine made with fresh, seasonal ingredients at prices comparable to any other fine restaurant (€12 to €22 for appetizers, €16 to €30 for entrées and €8 to €16 for desserts). What creates the value is that Lavinia’s outstanding and wide-ranging wines are available at the same price as retail in the store — not the usual high restaurant mark-up. In addition to bottles, wines are available by the glass — and you can talk wine to your heart’s content. The Spanish know how to linger over a meal, so you won’t be rushed.
Madrid’s Lavinia is at Calle José Ortega y Gasset, 16. The phone number is 91 426 06 04. There are also Lavinias in Barcelona, Paris, Geneva and Kiev. I do not know whether the others have on-site restaurants.