FIVE OF THE BEST WINE BARS IN SYDNEY
In recent years Sydney has undergone a small bar revolution and is all the better for it. From the city to the suburbs you will find a bar for every taste, including a dizzying array of wine bars that give the vino lovers among us a chance to sit and savour some of the incredible drops on offer.
There are too many brilliant wine bars run by passionate professionals to definitively name the top five, so here instead are a selection of the best to get you get started on your wine-tasting odyssey.
Love Tilly Devine
91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst, NSW, 2011
(02) 9326 9297
Tuesday - Saturday, 5pm - 12am
Sunday - Monday Closed
There was a time when it would have been foolish to venture down this non-descript lane in Darlinghurst. During the 1920s, the bar’s namesake, Tilly Devine, was a notorious crime boss who ruled over the area with a rather unappetising combination of violence and fear. Far more appetising are the 300 exceptional wines on offer today in a character-filled and (unlike Mrs Devine) welcoming wine bar with exposed walls and windows opening onto the lane. The team at Love Tilly Devine bill the bar as a place to drink well rather than get drunk, believing the wines should express the grapes from which they are made and the places the grapes are grown. So you can expect wines from many of the world’s renowned regions, and enjoy moreish flavours like fruit, herbs, flowers and minerals, rather than oak or alcohol. A selection of mouthwatering seasonal snacks complete the very appealing picture, in a rapidly gentrifying area that the long departed Tilly would find almost unrecognisable.
10 WILLIAM STREET
10 William Street, Paddington, NSW, 2021
(02) 9360 3310
Monday – Thursday, 5pm - Midnight
Friday – Saturday, Midday - Midnight
What’s not to love about a little Italian, whether it’s a deliciously rich Tuscan red or a crisp bianco from Piedmont, accompanied by a menu that’s equally as interesting as the seriously impressive wine list. Tucked away in a compact terrace in Paddington, the dimly lit space features small, tightly-packed tables and an atmosphere that is buzzing, friendly and fun. The service is informal yet knowledgeable, with staff effortlessly keeping customers well-fed and watered. While the wine list is largely Italian, other regions also get a look-in, with excellent additions from Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Spain and beyond. In an establishment with a provenance that begins at Potts Point’s Fratelli Paradiso, you would expect a menu of Italian treats to indulge in with your wine, and in this expectation you will not be disappointed. The menu is largely designed to share, but if you’re feeling particularly hungry (or territorial), a pasta dish will certainly hit the spot, as will the very reasonable prices.
4/50 Holt Street (on Gladstone), Surry Hills, NSW, 2010
(02) 9699 1582
Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm - 12am
With a single communal table that seats only 24 people, 121 BC might be better suited to date night rather than a raucous get-together with a group of your oldest friends. A warning though - as captivating as your date may be, this Aladdin’s cave of Italian wine might make it hard to focus on anything other than the list of must-try drops from every wine region in Italy. Your date won’t mind though, because they too will be poring over the list of small artisan producers and local Italian varieties, sustainably grown and with minimal intervention. There is also the option of heading next door to the enoteca (or wine shop if you’re Italian is on the rusty side) and selecting a bottle for the evening. Whatever you choose, save some decision-making brain space for the ever-changing food menu, which is also based on all the regions of Italy, with a focus on seasonal produce and sharing plates. 121 BC is a simple concept, superbly executed, and worth a permanent place on your wine bar roster – date or no date.
71A Macleay Street, Potts Point, NSW, 2011
(02) 9360 4410
Monday to Friday, 5pm – 12am
Saturday, 12pm – 12am
Sunday 12 – 10pm
Venture into the cosmopolitan heart of Potts Point on bustling Macleay Street to discover a wine bar that is home to some of the world’s finest rare and boutique wines. Slip behind the dark steel mesh screen into the strikingly moody interior (winner of the Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards for ‘Best Hospitality Design’ in 2013) and prepare yourself for a wine tasting thrill ride. With award-winning sommelier Nick Hildebrandt behind the wheel, the list runs to more than 500 wines, including more than 30 by the glass or carafe. In fact, Monopole was awarded ‘Wine List of the Year’ at the Sydney Morning Herald 2017 Good Food Guide Awards, plus 2 hats, which indicates that the food is no afterthought here either. Acclaimed Chef Brent Savage’s refined skills are clearly in evidence with plates designed to share. The house cured meats are an essential order and of course finishing with cheese is always a sensible option, but rest assured that any dish you choose from the menu will be a guaranteed highlight.
THE WINE LIBRARY
18 Oxford Street, Woollahra, NSW, 2025
(02) 9328 1600
Monday to Thursday, 4pm till late
Friday to Saturday 12 noon till late
Who knew that learning could be so much fun? Not your average suburban library, this one is dedicated to the grape or, more specifically, it’s wonderful output, wine (the clue is in the name!). Civilised and sophisticated, over 500 handpicked wines are on offer. Find a perch at the zinc bar and gaze at a mesmerising wall of wines, or continue walking through to the dining room out the back. When the weather is fine, the courtyard beckons, but wherever you settle it’s the wines that are the stars of the show here. Carefully selected from around the globe, the list has an emphasis on Italian and French short-run labels, with many organic wines from small vineyards that have a passion for the process and the quality of their drop. Boutique labels from Australia also feature in this place of higher learning. By night the intimate glow of the bar’s orange light draws wine lovers in like moths to a flame, where a broadly Mediterranean menu ensures patrons leave sated and satisfied, and eagerly planning the next visit to their local library.
While heading out to enjoy all that Sydney has to offer delivers many rewards, there are times that a night at home appeals. You can still treat yourself to the finest wines though, courtesy of MoCU. Curating a selection of expertly crafted wines, as well as beers and ciders, MoCU delivers straight to your door. Many of the products featured on MoCU cannot be found anywhere else. Plus, you’ll enjoy free delivery to metro areas on orders over $50*.
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Life is too short to drink average wine, and living in Australia, a nation with a robust and internationally respected wine-producing industry, means we are spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying the highest quality wines.