Sipping in Sampa: São Paulo’s emerging wine bar scene

Brazilians drink a fraction of the wine consumed by many Europeans but a younger generation is developing a thirst for it, particularly minimal intervention styles. São Paulo is the place to explore a trend that's gathering strength in Brazil, says Tomé Morrissy-Swan

Words by Tomé Morrissy-Swan

Chairs sprawl across the street outside the diminutive Sede261

‘Over the past four years there’s been a boom, it went from almost zero to 100,’ says Maria Emilia Atallah, former sommelier and chef at the Michelin-starred São Paulo restaurant Evvai. Bars, wine-focused restaurants and importers of minimal-intervention wines have sprung up in recent times, as São Paulo residents get a taste for vino.

Although wine production began in Brazil with the arrival of the Portuguese 500 years ago, the country is resoundingly beer and cachaça-drinking. According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, Brazilians drink around 2.2 litres of wine each per year on average, compared to 23.2 in the UK, 47.4 in France and 67.5 in Portugal in 2022. Most of that wine consumption takes place in the multicultural metropolises of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as well as the wine-producing southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, which borders Argentina and Uruguay.

But wine bars, many focusing on natural wine, have now begun to sprout up all over São Paulo, South America’s largest city. They are mostly concentrated in the posh neighbourhoods just west of the city centre, as well as the rapidly gentrifying and increasingly hipster centre itself. While beer remains king in Sampa’s bars, wine is on the rise, and young Brazilians are developing as much of a thirst for minimal-intervention wines as their counterparts in Europe and the US.

Jonas and Rê of Bar à Vins, which operates in the townhouse owned by De La Croix

How much Brazilian wine will you find? That depends where you go, although most bars focusing on natural wine stock plenty of local bottles. Brazilian winemaking didn’t fully take off until largescale Italian and German immigration to the south in the late 19th century, and despite the production of some quality wines, the majority paled in comparison to those of Latin American neighbours Argentina and Uruguay, as well as Chile.

Long attempting to copy other countries – by trying to make full-bodied reds more suited to the arid climates of Mendoza, for example – Brazilian winemakers are increasingly searching for their own style: lighter, fresher, and sparkling wines are the best bet.

Sommeliers Daniela Bravin and Cássia Campos
Sommeliers Daniela Bravin and Cássia Campos own Sete 261

‘Brazilians in general have a terrible habit of looking abroad and thinking that what foreigners have is always better,’ says Atallah, who works for De la Croix, which imports French natural wines. ‘For the past five years, Brazilians have begun to realise we don’t need to copy other people’s styles, that we should make much fresher wines. We’re looking towards a Brazilian identity.’

Still, there is plenty of prejudice against Brazilian wine, particularly among older generations. ‘It’s getting better but it still exists,’ says Atallah. Yet those who get their hands on a bottle of Vivente’s Pet Nat, made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and found in many São Paulo wine bars and restaurants, or Outrovinho’s Electric Relaxation, on orange Traminer, discover that Brazil’s wine identity is emerging. And, as with many Brazilian trends, São Paulo is the best place to explore it.

Brazilian charcuterie and cheese pairs well with Brazil's lighter, fresher, and sparkling wines
The Brazilian charcuterie served at the Bar à Vins at De La Croix, which pairs well with Brazil's lighter, fresher, and sparkling wines

Six of the best wine bars in São Paolo

Enoteca Saint VinSaint

Enoteca Saint VinSaint, a bistro in the smart neighbourhood of Vila Nova Conceição, was arguably the first São Paulo restaurant to showcase natural wines and small producers, according to Atallah, making that their focus in 2012. Wines hail from all over the world, with a strong Brazilian wine list too, and they run an annual natural wine fair called Naturebas, now in its 11th year.


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Bar à Vins

Open only on Saturdays and seating just 20, this bar in a charming townhouse – that functions as a shop during the week – is run by De la Croix. They open 15 types of wine at a time, with an emphasis on natural French wines, including Champagne and Burgundy. Sample the finest Brazilian cheese and charcuterie too.


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Since opening five years ago, Beverino, in the edgier city centre, has emerged as one of the city’s trendiest wine bars. Owner Bruno Bertoli returned from studying and working in France and Italy with a passion for wine, and at Beverino. top wine is paired with excellent small plates – think seafood escabeche and fresh pasta. Intriguing wines are always available by the glass, alongside superb sake, cider and beer.


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Sede 261

Sede 261 is incredibly laidback. There are few seats in this tiny bar but beach chairs sprawl across the street. It is the perfect spot to sip Brazilian wines like Vivente, great South American drinks – I had a wonderful Uruguayan Albariño on a recent visit – and bottles from further afield. There’s no kitchen but regular pop-ups specialising in pizza, sandwiches, empanadas and more cater to anyone feeling peckish.

Tão Longe, Tão Perto

Tão Longe, Tão Perto started life as a lockdown endeavour when a well-known sommelier called Gabriela Monteleone ran live video events connecting producers with consumers – hence the name, which translates as ‘so far, so close’. The newly opened wine bar in Barra Funda, an area quickly becoming a hipster haunt, is famed for its environmentally friendly ceramic growlers and a strong Brazilian wine list.


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More restaurant than wine bar, Cora has a strong wine list. On the sixth floor of a building overlooking the Minhocão, a central São Paulo thoroughfare that’s pedestrianised on weekends, there are brilliant views of mural-clad skyscrapers. The wines hail from all over but there’s plenty of Brazilian and South American options to match the stellar Brazilian small plates – think duck hearts with leeks and cauliflower cream and grilled courgette with Tulha, an award-winning Brazilian cheese, and cocoa.