In a country where wine is practically a basic need, finding a good bottle is not hard (and not as expensive as you might think).
There’s a Portuguese saying that roughly translates into “good wine needs no advertisement.” That’s partially true because you still need to know where to find it. We put together this list of the five best wine shops in Lisbon where you can find all-time favorites or pleasant surprises, regardless if you know a little or a lot about wine or the size of your budget.
1. Garrafeira Estado d’Alma
Their motto is Goethe’s quote “life is too short to drink bad wine” and we couldn’t agree more. Established as a low-cost wine store, they aim to sell great wine at affordable prices. Selling wine from Portugal and other countries in the world, occasionally you’ll also find off-the-market rarities.
Estado d’Alma welcomes beginners with the same courtesy it welcomes connoisseurs. If you feel slightly lost among top-to-bottom shelves full of wine bottles, the staff will come to the rescue. Instead of “what are you looking for?”, they’ll ask a series of sort of troubleshooting questions to figure out your palate and recommend the right bottle. If you’re new to the wine world, don’t worry—it usually starts with something as simple as asking you if you prefer reds or whites.
2. Mundo do Vino
It feels like an old cellar when you walk in, but the feeling stops there. Mundo do Vino is a surprisingly bright and open space, a wine shop that doubles as a tasting room in one of the streets that forms “the triangle”. Focusing on smaller producers, they occasionally host events where customers can hear about (and taste) newly launched wines.
At Mundo do Vino, they believe no one should have to buy wine before tasting it. Whether you walked in intending to buy or not, you’ll be given a wine credit card so you can pour yourself a glass as many times as you want. Just head to one of the fridges in both rooms (browsing is encouraged), read each wine’s description carefully, get a glass, insert your card, and pour yourself a taste. Loved it? Repeat the process for a half or a full glass, or get the bottle.
3. By the Wine
A wine shop, restaurant, and wine bar in the heart of Chiado, By the Wine sells exclusively wines produced by José Maria da Fonseca, Portugal’s oldest producer of table wine. Each dish at the restaurant is paired with a recommended wine available at the store. They serve it by the glass too, if you’re not ready to commit to a bottle.
Not looking to grab a meal here? Not a problem. Just tell the staff what you have in mind and they’ll pair the right bottle to your palate. Periquita is their most famous and oldest brand, available in red or white, but don’t leave without something for dessert. Ask for Setúbal’s famous Moscatel fortified wine to go with it.
4. Mercearia dos Açores
For all things Azores (from food and wine to handicrafts) in Lisbon, head to Mercearia dos Açores. The unique climate of these nine Portuguese islands 900 miles off the coast helps to produce equally unique wines. Only three islands produce and are certified as wine regions: Graciosa, Terceira (Biscoitos), and Pico. By far, Pico is perhaps the best-known wine producer overseas thanks to the UNESCO-listed landscape of the vineyard culture.
If you’re looking for a specific wine, Mercearia dos Açores could be a hit and miss. Not all producers export their wine to Lisbon. However, if you’re curious about tasting Portuguese wine from grapes grown in volcanic soil, this is the place.
5. Supermarkets (yes, really)
Head to the wine section of any supermarket in Lisbon, and you’ll likely find good wine at any price point. Preferably bottled and with a real cork (not a plastic one). Avoid the one-liter bag-in-box wine, unless you’re making a pitcher of sangria for dinner or need cheap wine for seasoning.
Most chain supermarkets are constantly running promotions. And, unlike perishable products, it’s not because the wines are expiring. Sometimes it’s just to clear stock to make way to new launches or to celebrate some special occasion. At that time, you might be able to find some great VR or DOC wines at a reasonable price. If you’re on a really tight budget, table wines (vinhos de mesa) are usually the cheapest of them all and still surprisingly great.