With an eclectic cellar and savoury bites, Mosto i...

With an eclectic cellar and savoury bites, Mosto is every wine lover’s new favourite haunt in Lagos

By: Alexandra Stilwell

Mosto Wine Shop & Bar offers visitors the opportunity to explore an “incredible range of grape varieties” and find their preferred wine taste 

Choosing a bottle of wine can sometimes be daunting. New producers and innovative brands keep popping up, making our decision a little bit harder every day. But they also give us an opportunity to discover an incredible range of grape varieties, terroirs and styles of wine.

The best way to learn about wine and how to choose a bottle is to taste as many as possible. Not only to discover what is out there but mainly to discover our taste. Luckily there are many experts out there willing to give us a helping hand, guiding the “eno-curious” and introducing them to wines they may never have heard of or dared to try before.

One of these helpful experts is wine enthusiast Sofia Saraiva, who, together with her business partner chef Kiko, opened Mosto. A place where wine-lovers come to taste and buy wine in a friendly environment as they nibble on tapas-style dishes.

The project was a much-needed change for both. Chef Kiko, a well-known figure in Lagos, who owned and ran the popular Tasca do Kiko down by the shipyard, was tired of running a large operation. As for Sofia, who worked in wine distribution, being constantly on the road was proving to be exhausting.

Having grown up in the Dão area, in the North of Portugal, Sofia’s relationship with wine started at an early age. “Up there, it’s normal for each family to harvest grapes and make their wine,” she says. But it took her some time and a few career changes before she finally opened her wine shop.

She started as an accountant and then went into banking. Encouraged by an Irish colleague, she took the plunge and studied oenology in Porto. This led her to try her hand at winemaking and wine distribution. But Sofia soon realised that what she truly loves is discovering new wines, and especially sharing them with her clients. “I enjoy this the most,” she says with satisfaction. “On the one hand, getting to choose the wines, which gives me the possibility to taste many things. And on the other, sharing them with our customers.”

They opened Mosto last April with the wine stock they brought from Kiko’s restaurant and started building their new cellar. Coincidently, the building they set themselves up in was built on the site of the old Adega Cooperativa de Lagos. Today, it is conveniently called Adega – Cellar. “Finding this space was pure coincidence,” insists Sofia, who admits it bodes well.

Located at the entrance of Lagos, the luminous wine bar and shop is a welcoming space specifically designed to host tastings, big and small. A large rectangular bar sits in the middle of the room. At one end, stools await customers curious to taste wine by the glass. At the other, a window displays delicacies waiting to be paired with wines. The large wooden table in the corner window is used for group tastings, whilst couples and small parties favour smaller tables at the back.

The chef’s menu includes classics tapas such as Serrano ham (hand cut on the spot), Padrón peppers, mackerel in olive oil and veal croquettes, and some of the chef’s creations, including a codfish carpaccio with coriander pesto and a sardine crostini with rocket and roasted red peppers.

The wine list consists of the content of massive white shelves lining the shop walls: an extensive selection of wines from all over Portugal and several international references, all of which can be bought or consumed in the shop. There is also a menu of wines by the glass, handwritten behind the bar. These are selected by Sofia and frequently change to allow regular customers to taste new vintages upon every visit.

Their objective is to offer wines that can’t be found in supermarkets or even large wine shops. “Of course, there are some wines that cannot be avoided,” admits Sofia. “But our intention is to have wines “out of the box”. We are also investing heavily in natural and organic wines, such as Pét-Nats [pétillant naturels].”

Although they only opened six months ago, their selection is already vast, including limited editions made by small producers and rare wines from Colares. They even have the only existing bag-in-box amphora wine, made in Vila de Frades by young winemakers called the Talha Mafia. According to Sofia, so far, 95% of their customers come to drink Portuguese wines. She believes the Portuguese are still quite sceptical about foreign wines, “and foreigners come here to discover our wines”.

Their selection of international wines is small but growing. It includes a couple of references from some of France’s iconic wine regions, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis and Sancerre, and some Spanish and Italian wines.

To help their customers on their constant journey of discovery, every couple of weeks, they organise tastings with different producers, who come to present their wines paired with Kiko’s petiscos. They have also created a wine club called the Glug Club, for which, every month, Sofia selects wines based on a specific theme. Wine club members can purchase a case of three or six bottles, which can be shipped monthly, every couple of months, quarterly, or just as a “one-off” delivery. The cases include the bottles and tasting notes written by Sofia. An absolute Must for wine lovers and curious drinkers.

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