The name of the restaurant Sommelier in Lisbon makes it easy to understand that this restaurant specializes in wine.
Once inside, this message is reinforced by the arrangement of wine displayed on the back wall off the dining room. It shows the impressive selection of wines available by the glass. We opted for the tasting menu: 6 courses with wine pairing for 100 euros.
But to begin we had a glass of this Portugal sparkling wine, made with a second fermentation in the bottle, from the Beira region. Although it was made using Chardonnay, it was very different from ‘blanc de blanc’ Champagne, as it had lower acidity and was more aromatic. It is not as complex as Champagne, but it also has a much lower price tag (at 7 euros per glass).
The first wine of the tasting menu was this Sauvignon Blanc from the Douro area, the same area that port is made. This was as elegant Sauvignon Blanc with the characteristic aromas and acidity, but not as over the top as SB sometimes can be.
These croquettes were full of pata negra iberico ham and were very flavorful. They could also have been served with the aperitif, as the Sauvignon Blanc was poured when we had not yet finished the sparkling wine.
Also paired with the Sauvignon Blanc was this mackerel from the Algarve, salted in a similar way as anchovies, served on crispy toast with aioli.
The second wine was this Encruzado from the Dao region, a well balanced and fruity dry white.
The wine was an excellent pairing with the ceviche, that was made with vinegar and capers.
Next was a blend of Alvarinho, Arinto, Gouveio, and Verdelho from the Alentejo region. For such a hot climate this wine had excellent acidity. It was made with used barrels, so with the effect of oxygen but without the vanilla of new wood.
Carabineiro shrimp, served with a risotto was flavored with kaffir lime zest. This was very flavorful and a great dish.
The head of the shrimp was served on the side to be able to enjoy that as well.
This white from the region of Tras-os-Montes is made using Riesling, Malvasia Fina, and Gewurztraminer. It was very nice and elegant, and hard to tell there was Riesling and Gewurztraminer in there.
The wine was a good pairing for the fillet of turbot with a mousse of fennel and carrot, and a coulis of red bell pepper. The turbot was very tender and juicy, but unfortunately the skin was not crispy. The fennel and carrot mousse was really nice and the bell pepper coulis had great depth of flavor.
The palate cleanser was a lime sorbet with kaffir lime zest. Perhaps a bit too much of the latter, as the lime was lingering a bit too long afterwards for it to be a proper cleanser.
Next the first and only red wine: a Baga from Bairrada. This grape variety is notorious for its tannins and acidity, but in this wine they were not too aggressive and offset by fruity aromas of cherries.
The wine worked well with grilled iberico pork, served with a ‘porridge’ of bread and tomato, flavored with smoked paprika. The cut of iberico is called presa, which is from the neck/shoulder and has nice marbling. The pork was very juicy and tender.
I had never had wine from the Azores. This wine from the island of Pico was aged for 10 years and made from Verdelho grapes. It is similar to Madeira, but without the high acidity (‘only’ 7.5 grams per litre). It is mildly sweet at 66.8 grams of sugar per litre.
The dessert was a collection of sweets. Some of them, especially the one with chocolate, were too sweet for the wine. But otherwise this was a very nice finish of the meal.
The food is of a high quality, well prepared, tasty, and nicely presented. Getting close to the level of a Michelin star, I’d say. The wines are very nice and paired well with the food. At 100 euros for 6 dishes and 6 glasses of wine this is great value. The service was very friendly and everyone spoke English.
I recommend Sommelier highly to get to know the food and wine of Portugal.