Top 5 Wine Bars
I remember a time when ordering wine by the glass meant a choice of white or red … usually from a cask or the cheapest bottle the venue stocked. Today it’s an opportunity to try a wide range of interesting drops across the full spectrum of white, rosé, orange, red and fortified from some of the world’s best boutique producers. And menus are increasingly designed to match this way of drinking – lots of high-flavour small plates to nibble while taking the tastebuds on a vinous journey. Throw in some very knowledgeable sommeliers who love talking about their latest discoveries and suggesting interesting food and wine matches – and there’s some pretty exciting times to be had. Here are five of my current favourites, where I can’t decide what I love more – the food or the wine.
Bibo Wine Bar Double Bay
This narrow space in unlikely Double Bay has a bright young crew of industry professionals, including chef Jose Silva (ex-Guillaume at Bennelong) and sommelier Louella Mathews (ex-Rockpool). From a lean skin-contact Clare riesling with moreish bean fritters to an old Madeira with Sweet Belem Portuguese tarts, they’ve got the goods!
Bar Brosé Darlinghurst
At this second opening by the ACME crew, chef Analiese Gregory puts a French spin on shared plates (killer comté gougères and that irresistible blooming onion) and one of my fave sommeliers, Gavin Wright, mixes up biodynamic Aussie fortifieds (let’s not call them ‘apero’) with interesting boutique French drops.
Momofuku Seiobo Bar Pyrmont
At the 5-seater bar at The Star’s finest diner, Ambrose Chiang and Kylie Javier always have something interesting to pour with Paul Carmichael’s Caribbean-inspired bar snacks, including a fish head covered in an umami-rich paste of fermented split pea, chilli and mustard. Even the cocktails are wine-based – that’s my kinda bar!
10 William St Paddington
After a couple of guest chef gigs, the menu at this wonderfully chaotic hole-in-the-wall is now in the safe hands of ex-sous chef Enrico Tomelleri (thank goodness the pretzel with whipped bottarga stayed!). It’s hard to pick a favourite match between Friulian pinot grigio with gnoccho fritto lardo and honey, or grilled tamarind octopus with a boutique Beaujolais.
Barrel Bar & Dining Cremorne
A restaurant owned by sommeliers is somewhere I want to eat! If you’re on the north side, visit the Barrel’s wine-focused front bar for excellent mozzarella-filled zucchini flowers with salsa verde, or a classic beef tartare, alongside a glass of organic Rosé de Provence or wonderfully floral Sorrenberg cabernet blend.