Spain's foods and wines are finally winning the international acclaim they deserve, but Spain's mineral waters are still relatively little known.
The most famous of Spanish mineral waters (and the easiest to find) is Vichy Catalan, but there are many others. Many of them, like Agua de Mondariz (pictured above) come from Galicia, the region in the northwest of Spain, famous for its hot springs. Cabreiroá and Sousas are two other famous Galician waters.
Most mineral waters are said to have some type of healing properties. Andrés, my father-in-law, could talk at length about the special qualities of each. Mondariz was good for the stomach. Cabreiroá was good for the kidneys. Vichy Catalan is said to be good for people (like me) with high cholesterol.
The waters can be applied externally too. When we're in Orense, in Galicia, we go to Las Burgas, the local hot spring, the water of which is said to be good for whatever ails you. It comes out of a stone spout steaming. Bathers go to hot pools along the river Miño. The water in these pools is supposed to be good for the skin.
Taste-wise, Galician mineral waters tend to have low mineral content. Vichy Catalan is quite high. Almost all of Spanish mineral waters are available sparkling or still.
You could serve a Spanish mineral water with a Spanish meal, much as you would a San Pellegrino with an Italian one. My favorite time to have a Spanish mineral water is when we're sitting in a cafe in the late afternoon--it's a nice change of pace from a coffee or hot chocolate--or with the cena, late-evening meal.
To read more about Agua de Sousas, check out the Agua de Sousas website. Agua de Sousas' history page has some cool photos of some of the older bottle styles and labels. Agua de Mondaríz also has a good website.