A Wine Bar Crawl Across Melbourne
Wine bars are Melbourne’s lifeblood. Pumping low-intervention pinot through the not-so-secret laneways of the city’s sprawling neighbourhoods. It’s both delightful and overwhelming.
We tried to limit this to the best five wine bars in town, but choosing five was impossible so we collated all of our favourites from across the land instead. Let us know if we’ve missed any!
Napier Quarter: There is something so effortlessly European about Napier Quarter. Dan is a master of simplicity and quality. The menu is produce-driven and perfect - expect one pasta, one ‘beast or bird’, a few vegetables, beautiful charcuterie and cheese and a house made cake or two. The wine list is ever-evolving, celebrating small batch Australian producers and imported beauties alike. It’s your thrice weekly local.
Bar Liberty: The guys that started this are ex-Attica and Rockwell and Sons. Ie. It’s pretty much perfect. There’s lots of new, biodynamic and low-intervention wines on the list, along with the classics. It’s hip but welcoming, the staff take great delight in finding what you’re after. (And the backyard is lovely when the sun is shining.)
Little Andorra: Wine, vinyl, tartare. You’ll mostly find French, Italian and Spanish wines on the list, plus a few natural treasures. The courtyard is dreamy and the tunes are delicious (so is the food).
Gerald’s: Probably the best bar in Melbourne but let’s just keep that between us. Daily seasonal menu, hundreds of great wines (that change at the whim of the owner, Gerald), warm wooden loveliness, no bullshit, lots of love. And if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a second Gerald’s in San Sebastian, Spain.
Heart Attack and Vine: Great for a chilled glass of pinot, tapas and people watching. Also great for a (very, very good) porchetta sandwich and pre/ post Cinema Nova wines.
Marion: It’s Cutler and Co’s wine bar neighbour and it’s just really beautiful. The wine, the food, the people, the place. Beautiful. It also has the most comprehensive and impressive wine list in the area.
Gertrude Street Enoteca: Created by chef/food writer/farmer, Brigitte Hafner with wine importer/architect/photographer, James Broadway. Ie it’s excellent in every way. It feels a bit like Paris and you can buy the wines off the wall by the bottle. Please note: the backyard is a) perfect, and b) home to food events that’ll make you drool. An understated charmer.
The Moon: Firstly, it’s home to the best lamb ribs in the history of lamb ribs. Secondly, it has a wall of wine that’s organised by style, from light to full-bodied. Pick a bottle, pay 20 bucks corkage, drink it.
Underwood: It’s tiny but it does wine right. Owner/ sommelier Michael Underwood cracks a few interesting bottles daily that you can drink by the glass. You’ll mostly see boutique, local winemakers on the rest of the list. The brick walls are exposed, the courtyard is adorable, and the toasted sandwiches are really, really delicious.
Paradise Alley: This is where all the hip wine-makers go when they’re not making wine. It smells a bit like engine oil and the wine’s decanted into beakers. Our kind of place.
City Wine Store: It’s the perennial Melbourne go-to. Wine’s the focus but the food is unpretentious and excellent. Feels like Europe. Feels like home.
Embla: The wine is weird (good weird, low-intervention weird) and the food is bloody excellent. A beautiful space in the centre of the CBD, very easy to get carried away.
Juliet: Juliet celebrates female winemakers, so we shall celebrate it. They also have raclette.
Seddon Wine Store: An excellent wine store, but the kind of wine store where you can sit down, crack the bottle you just bought and eat antipasto.
Copperpot: Self-described as ‘A foodie’s road trip across Europe’. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many things better than food and wine and road trips. Especially when you don’t have to leave the table.
Harry and Frankie: Run by the ex-sommelier of one of Victoria’s best restaurants (Lake House). Harry and Frankie is built into an old bank vault and has a beautifully curated selection of wines you can drink in or take home. Great snacks too.
Neptune (Windsor): A wine bar offering from the legends behind Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally. You can buy wine off the walls, lounge in booths and feast on share plates, then slink upstairs for a cocktail.