It’s a typical evening at Bravin, an Italian-leaning, wine-centered restaurant in the upscale Higienópolis neighborhood in São Paulo. Über-cool owner Daniela Bravin is doing what she does every night: playing the role of human wine list.
Try this amphorae-fermented Ribolla from northern Italy with your fish, she suggests to one wide-eyed customer. Give this domestic Pinot Noir from Marco Danielle a shot with your braised lamb neck and polenta, she urges another.
Just don’t ask to see the wine list, she reminds patrons, because there isn’t one. There hasn’t been one since Bravin opened in 2012, and one won’t be coming anytime soon.
“I am the wine list,” says Bravin. “I prefer that my customers not drink the same wine twice, thus I am constantly changing what I offer. I don’t want to rewrite a list every few days, so I decided not to have one at all.”
Such is the attitude of one of Brazil’s leading wine personalities. For Bravin, whose husky voice, buzz-cut hair and tattoo-covered arms function as calling cards, operating a restaurant in one of the world’s most international cities is a green light for wine adventure.
“Brazil isn’t a traditional wine-drinking country,” says Bravin, 39, who worked as a sommelier at the renowned Ici Bistro, also in São Paulo, before opening her restaurant. “People here are just learning about wine. Fortunately, I have access to more than 20,000 wines from around the world. I especially like the unusual indigenous grapes from Europe. But I also like our domestic wines, especially boutique producers like Era dos Ventos and Domínio Vicari.”
A 2003 graduate of the Brazilian Association of Sommeliers (ABS), Bravin can be heard once a month on celebrity chef Rita Lobo’s radio show, Panelinha [Inner Circle], discussing wine-and-food pairings and what’s hot in the wine world. Bravin also writes a weekly column for O Estado de São Paulo, a major newspaper.
“I usually write about a dish of the day with the perfect wine marriage,” she says. “But sometimes it’s with a beer or a cocktail. I like to mix it up.”