Storm in a wine glass

on Mar 1, 2016 in Automatic Pilot | No Comments

At the Lisbon Winery bar, a Lisbon of 500 years ago and little-known wines is explored.

Alexandre Carreira

Anyone entering the new Lisbon Winery, will be surprised at what they find. The décor is attractive and intimate. There’s a large wall lined with cork, wooden wine case lids on the table tops and bottles all over the place. However, at the end of the room, there’s something else: a huge, old cistern date back to the 16th century that was buried and only recently discovered by the building’s owner. A historic relic that, along with the wines ad food served, constitutes one of the main attractions of the bar located at 13 da Rua Barroca, in Bairro Alto, in central Lisbon.

The bar belongs to Adriana Afonso and Cláudia Portas, two ex-journalists. They had wanted to leave the profession for some time and create something of their own in these areas. So, in 2011 they set up a tourist activity company that focussed on wine tasting in a traditional Portuguese building. It was a success and they soon diversified. They then met Alexandre Carreira, who is responsible for Lisbon Winery and its wine list.

Alexandre, who has worked in various bars and restaurants (including the Michelin-starred Eleven and Grape & Bites), began doing the wine tastings that Adriana and Cláudia organised. The wine list was designed to include the less well-known bottles from every region: “We don’t have a commercial concept. We didn’t choose the most famous wines because we want to surprise our customers”, says Alexandre, who included over 200 Portuguese wines on the list from all the country’s regions, every one of which can be ordered by the glass (except the vintage ports, which are sold by the bottle).

When it comes to food, there are Portuguese canned delights (sardines, mackerel, octopus and tuna), cheeses (Azeitão, Serra da Estrela, Beira Baixa, Terrincho, ilha de São Jorge) and charcuterie (salsichão, different types of paio, chouriços and presuntos). “We have chosen what we particularly like and we want people to discover these very Portuguese products”, explains Cláudia.

The abovementioned cistern is part of Lisbon’s archaeological heritage and is thought to have belonged to a rich family who had a property outside of the city walls (which, 500 years ago, only extended to the Chiado area). A real must-see.

by Maria João de Almeida


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