OK, I’ve kept this place semi-secret long enough. Put simply, this is my favorite wine bar on the planet at the moment. Why, you say? Though the location, ambience, and stock selection are definitely critical pieces of the puzzle, it is the style and quality of the service you will get here that truly sets this place on a pedestal.
Nuno Santos, the driving force behind it, takes enormous pride and care in ensuring that patrons have an unparalleled experience on their visit. Whether Nuno takes care of you personally or one of the several other highly trained and passionate servers here is your guide, you can expect to be led toward the perfect selection with passion, knowledge, and an attention to detail that’s rare these days. Unlike so many wine bars where you are greeted by a service professional who has memorized the most recent tasting notes from Robert Parker or James Molesworth, the staff’s love and intimate knowledge of the stock here is evident.
Reminiscent of how a guitar player feels about his different axes and each of their own quirks, imperfections, and sublime notes, no matter who takes care of you, you are going to get the straight dope on all of the wines you care to ask about. On at least one occasion, when asked about a bottle in his stock, Nuno didn’t hold back his true opinion, and in the process educated the hell out of us. The team is so dedicated to honesty in selection that, in fact, they steadfastly refuse what would be a very lucrative revenue stream in guiding winery tours. Why? It might create a conflict of interest; they don’t want to find themselves sending clients toward the highest bidder.
I could blather on here. But just do yourself a favor and go visit Nuno’s team. You will find yourself joining their legion of fans, and becoming so much smarter in the meantime.
Winebar do Castelo, No. 13 Rua Bartolomeu de Gusmão 11, 1100-000, Lisbon, Portugal