Being a first time visitor to Portugal, I had no idea on what to expect. As such my first go-to resource is the all encompassing TripAdvisor, which was where I discovered BA Wine Bar, as it is one of the top ‘restaurants’ in Lisbon.  Whenever I travel, I typically pick out at least one wine bar to visit.  In my opinion, BA Wine Bar is one of the best wine bars I’ve been to so far.  I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for wine in a heartbeat.

The wine bar is approximately 15 minutes of uphill walk from Rossio Square.  The inside is cosy, with limited seating (approximately 20 people give or take).  When I was there, I saw that a few people dropped in without reservation, and unfortunately could not be accommodated.  Therefore to avoid disappointment, it would be best to make reservations ahead of time.

I read about several posts on TripAdvisor, where customers complained that BA Wine Bar is not a real restaurant since no hot dishes were served.  I did a bit of research before my visit so I knew full well that there will only be charcuterie, olives, cheeses and bread on the menu. The owner, Mr. Rui Rossa, did his due-diligence as well by informing me of such when I made my reservation through Facebook.  Perhaps the misunderstanding came about because in some other countries like the States and UK, “wine bar” is just a fancy term for a restaurant that places more emphasis on its wine program.  However, in Portugal, that is typically not the case.

Through my conversation with Rui, I learned that he used to work in the Logistics field, but unfortunately lost his job during the financial crisis.  In retrospect, I would say this is definitely good news (for me, and his future customers).  His passion for, knowledge and pride of Portuguese wines is an inspiration.  Please keep up the good work and I wish to visit you again in the near future.

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On an average night, approximately 60 – 70 bottles of wines are open and available for tasting.  Rui offered to pick out wine flights for me, and I requested whites, followed by reds, and ended my night with fortified wines.

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Cute placemats by a canned seafood producer.  A set of of 16 is available for sale at BA Wine Bar for Eur $10.

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Fresh breads and olives…

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…and olive oils and jam, incredible shades of color.

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Charcuterie board with a variety of Portuguese cheese, smoked meat and blood sausage.  Some of the cheeses are from small local producers, not something that can be purchased in supermarkets.

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Sinfully delicious fortified wines.  I am partial to the nuttiness aftertaste as a result of oxidative treatment on both the Madeira and Tawny Port.  Although Bual, Verhelho used in Madeira are white grapes, and Port are made using red grapes, one can see that the combination of old age, oak and oxidation caused the wines to be quite similar in color tones.

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Another one of Rui’s irresistible treasure, which I shamelessly asked for a second sip.  I just had to…

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This was the wine flight on our second visit to BA Wine Bar.  My favorite was the Quinta dos Carvalhais Reserva Branco 2010, which was oaked for 3 years before release.  Unfortunately when I went to a supposedly well-stocked wine shop, Garrafeira Nacional, they were all sold out.  I decided to spend a bit more on the Quinta dos Carvalhais Especial.  This being a non-vintage wine, the store attendant explained to me that the wine in the bottle has an average age of 7 to 9 years.

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Most recommended: The majority of the wines I tasted were fantastic.  I think it is best to utilize Rui’s knowledge and have him make suggestions.

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Suggestions for improvements:

1. I am personally not a bit fan of desserts, but one of my friends said she’s dying for some chocolates to go with the dessert wines.

2. It is easy to lose track on what wine was poured into which glass after having a few, especially if shared amongst a group.  Some numbering system on the glasses may come in handy.

 

 

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