When you want what’s in your glass to be the star of the show, rather than play second fiddle to the food, a good wine bar is on the menu. Think intimate establishments with killer lists of specialty wines, whether from boutique Australian makers or specialised vintners around the world. Perhaps paired with tapas, or maybe cheese and charcuterie. Sip, savour – and thank us later.
Start your wine journey in the city centre. Fix Wine Bar + Restaurant lets you dive into its cellar for a taste, glass, flask or bottle, with your drop of choice accompanied by bites like salmon crudo and polenta chips. Family-owned and -operated Vini Divini is all about Mediterranean wines and complementary snacks (try the grilled octopus), while Born by Tapavino in Barangaroo has the motto: “Eat Spanish, drink Spanish”. Guess what’s on the menu?
The European vibe continues at Ash St. Cellar, where you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into a back-alley bar in Paris. The wine list is well-curated, and there’s a chef’s tasting menu should you get peckish. Around the corner, Bambini Trust Wine Room sits inside a heritage building opposite Hyde Park. The broodingly dark and handsome interiors transport you to France at first glance.
Slightly further afield, Wyno X Bodega has one of the most impressive wine lists you’ll come across, including a standout selection of vermouth, sherry and distillates – great when paired with salty anchovies and “humble” bread. And Poly in Surry Hills takes its beverages just as seriously, with plenty of options when it comes time to refuel – how does Moreton Bay bug with fermented hot sauce butter sound?
The Wine Library in Woollahra was one of Sydney's first wine bars, and it’s still a pioneer when it comes to boutique and hard-to-find bottles. bibo in nearby Double Bay features a wine list that includes drops from an exclusive private cellar, while Coogee Wine Room sits pretty just a few steps from one of the most show-stopping beaches in the East. It’s not for the indecisive – there are more than 400 wines to choose from, touching most continents, alongside a Mediterranean-inspired menu.
There’s even a working winery with a bar in Moore Park, the stylish Urban Winery, so you can see how cool-climate grapes from around NSW are turned into top vintages. Decoding the industry is also top of mind at Handpicked Cellar Door, occupying a glam warehouse in nearby Chippendale. This place takes you behind the scenes of the industry, offering barrel tastings, wine and cheese flights… and the opportunity to just chill out with a good glass and perhaps a crumpetini or two. Yes, they’re a thing.
Handpicked Cellar Door, Chippendale
In Newtown, Cittavinois a wine store and bar where you can sample more than 25 vintages by the glass – many of them stocked here, and only here. Or tuck into a charcuterie plate piled high with meat and cheese at Continental Deli Bar Bistro – the team here also make a mean cocktail.
Cloudy, funky and decidedly delicious, natural (minimal intervention) wine stars at Newtown’s P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants. You can even sign up for wine school here. Boutique natural wines are also heroed at Where’s Nick in Marrickville, with a handful of snacks on the menu to accompany the interesting selection of drinks.
Prefer something with a little fizz? The Champagne Bar at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour has more than 30 French drops on the list. The views alone are reason enough to linger. Reign is an elegant rose-gold-and-white bar set in the historic Queen Victoria Building, with 150 champagnes and sparkling wines to drink your way through. And at Nick & Nora’s in Parramatta, you can order a decadent champagne tower to be built at your table.
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