wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

Nothing beats a glass of wine. It’s appropriate on so many occasions. Had a bad day? Have a glass of wine. Have something to celebrate? Have a glass of wine. It’s also suitable for all climates. If it’s hot, drink a nice, cold rosé and if it’s cold, go for deep, warming red. One thing that I used to consider sacrilege was chilling red wine, yet it’s pretty normal to do this Rio. On a baking hot day, drinking a room temperature red isn’t actually that pleasant and soon I began to realise, and appreciate, the benefits and joys of a chilled red. If you find yourself in Rio being served a beautiful red in a bucket of ice, try to disguise the look of horror on your face and simply ask for one at room temperature. Just remember, when you’re living and working in the hot summers of Rio, any kind of drink that isn’t icy cold (except coffee of course) just isn’t worth drinking as far as locals are concerned.

Here are some of my favourite spots in Rio to enjoy a nice bottle or two of wine.

Mercearia da Praça – Ipanema

I spotted this place a few weeks back and finally made it there just last week. As I entered, the charming owner escorted me to a table and made sure I was well looked after while I waited for my friends. If this sounds formal, it’s not at all – it was more like a friendly host wanting you to feel comfortable and happy in their home. The location is excellent too – just opposite Praça General Osório and seconds away from the metro.

Why do I love this place? My favourite part is the setting. It’s like a combination of a well-stocked deli and a Portuguese restaurant. There is an inside area with small wooden tables and an outside space which is the nearest equivalent to a Rio beer garden. My other favourite part was the food and drinks – one wall’s sole purpose is to hold an enormous wine rack filled to the brim while the rest of the venue has large hams hanging at the back, a huge selection of cheeses and several types of imported chocolate and jams. It’s a little breath of a charming European deli and makes for a chilled evening of wine and good cheese.

  • Mercearia da Praça
    R. Jangadeiros, 28 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 3986-1400
    Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 12 am
wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

Canastra – Ipanema

Canastra has been the king of the wine market in Rio for a while and there is absolutely no reason to think that this will change anytime soon. When I went by there a few Tuesdays ago, it wasn’t just the bar that was heaving but the entire street in front. For anyone that has spent Carnival in Rio, it reminded me of the post-parties in the street after a large bloco but this time without the glitter and fancy dress. Tuesday happens to be their busiest day as this is the day when they serve up their fresh oysters which brings people waiting outside the venue almost an hour before it opens. On regular days, it’s still best to go there early as it gets packed quickly. Canastra is French-owned and most of the staff are multilingual.

Why do I love this place? I love its wine and the Canastra cheese is perfect. Before I talk more about the wines, I have to mention the burrata cheese – it is my favourite. It’s all soft, gooey and mild and worth saving some room for. The wines are great here and 100% Brazilian which I think it’s one of the main appeals of the place. I usually go for red wine in any wine bar yet Canastra is the one major exception. Its rosé is too good not to try.

  • Canastra
    Edifício Paranoá – R. Jangadeiros, 42 – G – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 99656-1960
    Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6:30 pm to 1 am
wine bars Rio de Janeiro

Winehouse – Botafogo

Tucked away on one of the side streets in Botafogo, I came across this bar by pure chance as I was walking to metro Botafogo from Shopping Rio Sul. It was closed as I went by but as soon as I saw the word ‘wine’ and ‘house’ together, my curiosity was piqued and I just had to check it out. I don’t know why but I haven’t managed to spend a night there without drinking one glass (or a bottle) too many. I’ve always had such great fun there and never want the night to end too quickly. Cue the extra glass or bottle that I certainly don’t need but seemed like an excellent idea at the time.

Why do I love this place? I love this place for many reasons. First, the British owner Dominic is a really friendly chap that certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to wine. Secondly, the wine is just really good. The selection includes a mix of Brazilian and imported wine and if you ask for a recommended pairing, you’ll get some great advice. I know I said that I usually order red but I’m about to prove myself wrong yet again by saying that the espumante (the sparkling white) is delicious and in fact, is one of my favourites on the menu. It’s called the Brut Champenoise and actually comes from the south of Brazil. Finally, the food is great and I love the fact they have homemade guacamole on the menu.

  • Winehouse
    R. Paulo Barreto, 25 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 3264-4101
    Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 5 pm to 12 am. Thursday to Friday 5 pm to 1 am. Saturday 5 pm to 12 am.
wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

Le Depanneur – Botafogo

I remember when this place first opened although I can’t remember for the life of me what used to be in the space that Le Depanneur now occupies. In the beginning, it would always get a small yet steady trickle of customers. Now, whenever I go by there on whatever day of the week, it is totally crowded. Get there after 8 pm and good luck in getting a seat – you’re in for a wait. Le Depanneur is kind of like one of those lovely mixes of what reminds me of a French deli and a casual yet hip restaurant. It juxtaposes modern with traditional with its contemporary furniture and classic deli-style foods. It has a few indoor tables yet the real joy is sitting on the terrace and people-watching.

Why do I love this place? I love its atmosphere. I love simply watching the world go by next to the bustling streets of Botafogo. Its location is perfect – seconds away from the metro and right on the corner of Rua Nelson Mandela, the busy street of bars and eateries. It’s an exciting place to be and the food and the wine are excellent. The cheese board here is amazing and if I know I will be going to Le Depanneur, I will skip my afternoon snack and dinner to save myself space to eat my bodyweight in cheese (I know, I am such a cheese fiend). The reds here are my go-tos yet sometimes I will indulge in the sparkling rosé. Honestly, it is so moreish and delicious that if it’s a warm evening, this rosé will be my first choice.

  • Le Depanneur
    R. Voluntários da Pátria, 86 – Loja A/B – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, (21) 2537-5250
    Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 9:45 pm
wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

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wine bars in Rio de Janeiro

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