Food + Beverage
Macau wine bar Macau Soul is one of those places you either stumble upon by accident – or somebody in the know takes you there. Known as Alma de Macau em português, it serves fine Portuguese wines and yummy snacks in charming surroundings.
Best Macau Wine Bar?
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. They had been based in Hong Kong since 1983 before “retiring” to Macau in 2004.
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. A part of town that has somewhat pretentiously been dubbed “the Historic Centre of Macao” by UNESCO had taken on a new personality.
And the changes were not all an improvement!
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 Portuguese 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.
I walked inside, and it was cool. Finding a table, I sat down and 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.
Because I didn’t want to spend piles of money, I wasn’t interested in a fine vintage. I just wanted something cold – and not too costly – to slake my thirst before heading off for dinner.
Vinho Verde – Green Wine
There was 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 of the plates was full of different types of olives. And the other plate was full of what I think were broad beans, a Portuguese style nibble 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
After reading the paper, I chatted with the owner and 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 call 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.
Not only is this the best Macau wine bar. It has got to be one of the best wine bars I have ever visited!
Macau Soul – 31 Rua de Sao Paulo, Macau. Tel: (853) 2836-5182.
The wine bar is located at the corner of Travessa da Paixao in the shadows of the Ruins of St. Paul’s. It is a short walk from Leal Senado Square in the centre of Old Macau.
Macau is a one hour’s jetfoil ride from Hong Kong. A bridge now also links the two special administrative regions.
Originally published in 2012, this post was updated and revised on 21 September 2019,