Original article by: Forbes
In the introduction to her new book Wine In Lisbon, 29-year old author Ana Cristina Marques thanks Bacchus for inventing wine sold by the glass. Not only does this allow for a variety of economical tastings but, ‘…is the perfect excuse to take colleagues, friends and family to yet another wine bar,’ she writes.
Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon offers plenty of wine bars to visit. One reason is due to natural resources: although Portugal is not a large country (about the size of the U.S. state of Maine, or a quarter the area of Germany) it is home to some 250 indigenous wine grape varieties.
Over several months, while working with two photographers, Marques visited 16 wineries, 30 wine bars and 10 wine stores in the region of Lisbon to research this guide which is published separately in both Portuguese and English. This easy to carry manual illustrates inner and outer Lisbon cityscape wine routes with maps, excellent photographs and succinct text.
Marques was born in Estorel (“a cosy beach town very close to Lisbon,” she says) and is emphatic that she is a journalist, not a wine critic. Marques writes about wine for the Observador newspaper and has written for various magazines that include Volta do Mundo, Noticias and Evasôes. This background provided her with insight on how to present ‘unpretentious and amusing’ information that she hopes will leave readers, she writes, with a ‘long aftertaste and a desire for a second glass.’
“Some of the things I like most in life are wines and this city,” she said. “I tried to make something practical, with not too much information. The wine scene in Lisbon is changing, getting more and more attention. There are many wine bars in the traditional areas of the city center—not just for tourists, but also for local consumers asking for wine by the glass and drinking it with appetizers—tapas. It’s not a revolution, but an evolution here.”
The book is broken into three sections. The first highlights Lisbon’s nine wine regions—which extend to 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside the city, as well as the included wineries. Each region has distinct characteristics. For example, Carcavelos, Colares and Bucelas are traditionally renowned, while Lourinhã is the only designated region producing aguardente (made from fermented sugar cane juice). The wineries are spread throughout these regions—from Adega Casal da Manteiga in the south (which produces fortified wine) to Quinta dos Loridos in the north, with its Buddha Eden Garden that includes pagodas and terracotta statues.
Another section of the book covers wine bars. For each of the 26 Lisbon wine bars included, the text is complemented by a box identifying opening hours and the lowest price per glass served (the average being 3.20 Euros—$3.70, while the lowest is a glass that costs a mere half Euro—60 cents). Highlights include The Wine Cellar with its 250 Portuguese wines within a space of 320 square feet (30 square meters), including exclusive bottles of the cult wine Pêra Manca and the mysterious Barca Velha from the Douro, produced only every few years.
The text highlights distinct differences between wine bars. For a daily 10 Euro ($11.50) tasting from a list of 200 bottles, visit The Lisbon Winery; if you want to limit your sniffing and swirling to wines from only one region, try Bebedouro which serves only Douro wines—together with smoked ham and francesinha (a sandwich that includes ham, sausage, steak and cheese).
“Lisbon is very fashionable now,” Marques said, explaining the targeted appeal of the book. “Lots of tourists. This book has practical information about where to see wine being made, where to drink it and where to buy it to take home. It’s also for local people to understand that Lisbon is a very good wine region in the making.”
The third section of the book describes 10 wine Lisbon stores and includes tips on which ones allow for tastings and which serve food. One wine store that encapsulates the organic growth of this niche market in the city is Garrafeira de Campo de Ourique. Opened in 1988 in what used to be small grocery store, it first sold wine out of barrels. It now sells 6,000 brands in bottles and includes international labels from France, Italy and Chile.
The book includes pages with simple side notes, such as how to order wine or how to store it at home. Published by the Portuguese press Caminho Das Palavras, the text for the English version was translated by Michael Dornan.
“It was a major challenge to write this book,” Marques admits. “Very demanding. I’m very happy with the end result.”
No doubt visitors to Lisbon with a taste for wine may think alike.