It’s not difficult to find an ice cold beer in Rio. The locals are happy to sink a cooling glass of cerveja at virtually any time of day or night, and you’re never more than a few feet from a bar or street vendor.
Those who prefer the grape to the grain, however, will face more of a challenge in the city. Brazil is not a great wine-drinking nation on the whole and, while most upscale restaurants in Rio feature decent lists, it can be hard to find a drinkable glass at prices that won’t blow the budget.
Red wine lovers should be particularly wary – the cheaper varieties, as served in lower-priced bars and restaurants, are sweet, chilled, and very often served from a plastic bottle. White wine, where available, can be approaching sherry in strength in cheaper spots, and tends to be expensive when it is of decent quality.
For fine wines, Rio’s top-flight restaurants such as Olympe, Le Pre Catalan and Fasano Al Mare all have extensive lists of Old World and New World bottles, but be prepared to pay through the nose.
If you are merely looking for something drinkable, Bar do Gomes
in Santa Teresa does a reasonable bottle of white Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for R$25 (don’t opt for house wine by the glass here, it comes from a box and is barely drinkable); while for something a little more special Ovelha Negra in Botafogo has a huge range of sparkling wines – including, but not limited to, champagne.
Should you be curious about the emergence of national bottles onto the world wine scene, the all-Brazilian list of fine wines at Restaurante Aprazivel proves that we should not be so quick to dismiss the country’s viticulture.
Photo courtesy of apartmentinrio.net