Macau: Wine Bar to Chill Out at in the Shadows of St Paul’s

David and Jackie Higgins, Macau Soul

Food + Beverage

Macau Soul – known as Alma de Macau em português – is one of those places you either stumble upon by accident – or somebody in the know takes you there.

Housed in a restored Portuguese style commercial building in the shadows of the Ruins of St. Paul's, Macau Soul was opened a few years back by David and Jackie Higgins (pictured), who had been based in Hong Kong since 1983 before “retiring” to Macau in 2004.

Some retirement!

You get the idea that David and Jackie are working harder running Macau Soul than they ever dreamed of working before they retired.

Walking Down Memory Lane

Revisiting a city that I had called home for three years nearly 20 years earlier, I marveled at the changes that had taken place since my last visit to a part of town that has somewhat pretentiously been dubbed “the Historic Centre of Macao” by UNESCO.

One of my favourite antique shops now housed a Nike outlet. Nearby was an Adidas outlet, a Haagan-Dazs creamery, lots of shops selling cheap souvenirs, Taiwanese style tea shops, and piles of outlets selling Chinese style cookies and dried meats.

As I elbowed my way through throngs of tourists from mainland China and further afield, I had this overwhelming desire to escape the heat, escape the crowds, and find refuge in a quiet environment with comfortable chairs and air conditioning. If wine was on the menu, so much the better …

“I wonder if Macau Soul is still open?” I asked myself.

Making my way to the top of Rua da Ressureicão, I turned left at Travessa da Paixão and found Macau Soul at Number 31. It appeared to be open.

Wine List

I walked inside. I found a table. I sat down. I perused the menu.

Since this was Macau, which was administered by Portugal for more than 400 years before returning to Chinese administration in 1999, Portuguese wines – not surprisingly! – figured prominently on the Wine List. There were fully 430 Portuguese wines, including 225 reds, 85 whites, and 120 ports and Madeiras.

I wasn't interested in a fine vintage. I didn't want to spend piles of money. I just wanted something cold – and not too costly – to slake my thirst before heading off for dinner.

Vinho Verde – Green Wine

I saw a reasonably priced Vinho Verde, which means “green wine” em português. I hadn't had it in years.

After ordering a glass, half a bottle of Vinho Verde was opened, and I was served what I thought to be a rather small amount of wine.

“Oh!” I thought.

I was then brought two large plates, one full of different types of olives, the other with what I think were broad beans, a Portuguese style nibbly that is often served with wine.

Then the half bottle of Vinho Verde was put into a wine cooler and brought to my table.

“I think there has been a misunderstanding,” I thought, having expected nothing more than a simple glass of sparkling green wine.

“Oh, well. Enjoy! You only live once.”

Value for Money

I read the paper. I chatted with the owner. I asked for the bill.

Bracing myself for the worst, I was surprised when the bill arrived, and – sure enough! – the “snacks” were on the house!

As it turned out, “glass” really meant what the Portuguese would dub meia garrafa, or “half bottle”.

Pleasantly surprised, I commented that this was exceptional value.

“We don't serve wine by the glass,” David said simply.

I was seriously tempted to forget my dinner engagement, kick back, and enjoy another “glass” of Vinho Verde.

 

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