Top five wine bars in Melbourne

Charley May
By Charley May
about 3 years ago
5 min read

Melbourne is a food and wine lovers dream. Here a confluence of history, culture and enlightened liquor laws have given rise to a rich and eclectic epicurean scene. It’s a place where you can get lost in a maze of city laneways bustling with charm and sophisticated eateries, or find yourself in chilled neighbourhood wine bars. And with new people, venues and ideas helping us to eat and drink well, you’re unlikely to get bored but you will need a gym membership to work up a sweat for your next meal.

The diversity of options in Melbourne is pretty dizzy so we’ve distilled it down to five places you’ll find us having a cheeky vino.

1. Carlton Wine Room

172-174 Faraday Street, Carlton

You can find Charley here during happy hour.

“I’m a sucker for shellfish, so anywhere with an oyster happy hour is my idea of heaven! It’s my fave place to sit on the street and people-watch while sipping on the sea and a chilled glass of riesling. But the real reason I come here is the welcome I always receive from the charismatic proprietor Jay Bessell. His enthusiasm is infectious and his Italian-inspired wine list is as stylish as his sassy cravats. I love everything about the place, from the elegant contemporary European decor, underground cellar-come-private dining room and extensive list of wines by the glass, to the cheese board, stunning pastas and smiling wait staff. This place just feels so good and it’s home to some of my best food and wine memories. For me, this restaurant really comes into its own in winter because you can shut the door on the cold and be transported to a place as warm as the Tuscan sun.”

2. Melbourne Supper Club

1/161 Spring St, Melbourne

Charley’s fave place to watch the sun rise.

“This is my favourite late night den of iniquity. I’ve spent many night on the plush Chesterfield’s swirling my wine glass and watching dawn’s first rays break over the city. It’s a civilised institution that lets bon vivants carry on the conversation after last drinks are called. Enter through an imposing dark wooden door on the street, climb the stairs and be transported to a different time and place. It feels like a European style speakeasy where you’d find philosophers discussing radical ideas and dapper waiters fuelling their intellectualism with inspiring drinks. Truth is, this fantasy is not far shy of the reality. If the jaw-droppingly expansive (and at times eye-wateringly expensive) wine list doesn’t inspire deep and meaningfuls then the view across to Parliament House will. And if you need a little fresh air you can always escape to the roof-top bar and order a croque monsieur when morning comes around.”

3. Marion Wine

53 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Sipped and given the seal of approval by Aleksia.

“If you want to skip the hustle and bustle of the CBD, then head straight to Gertrude Street’s Marion. This chic new wine bar is the little sister of fine-diner Cutler and Co., and blends its established neighbour’s attention to detail with a more relaxed atmosphere. Food is designed for sharing and is universally delightful, with innovative dishes (mussels and nduja, pleasingly spicy) sitting alongside perfectly executed classics (porterhouse with herb butter, divine). But what of the wine? Ah, the wine. The selection by the glass is good, but the real opportunity lies in the cellar, so bring your friends and order bottles - they start from $40 or so. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for recommendations - they’re warm, friendly and, amazingly, happy to suggest a less-pricey bottle if they think you’ll love it.”

4. City Wine Shop 

159 Spring St, Melbourne

Where you’ll find Mikey most Sundays.

“City Wine Shop is a wine lover’s candy store. The shelves opposite the bar are stacked high with a range of awesome wines spanning a broad price range and style spectrum. You can grab a bottle from the shelf and have it opened for you while you people watch on Spring St, or prop yourself up at the bar inside or the communal table out the back and have one of the knowledgeable somms guide you through the 20 something wines by-the-glass. This list changes frequently and is a good place to dig around before settling on a bottle to share. They have a smart spirits, beer and cider selection too and host workshops on all things wine. Share a bottle and a few plates, sign up to a workshop and whatever you do, don’t leave without trying their tiramisu. It’s amazing.” 

5. Ombra

76 Bourke St, Melbourne

Mikey’s favourite salumi spot.

“You had me at ‘Salumi Bar’ and sealed the deal with over a dozen of the finest cured, dried and smoked meats to chew through. Propping yourself up at a bench, sampling salumi sliced to order and working your way through a carefully prepared and eclectic wine list is my kinda night out. The by-the-glass list here features some of the more interesting natural wines available and these vibrant, juicy wines complement the quality selection of salumi beautifully. The lamb ribs are swoon-worthy and there are plenty of more substantial options if you choose to stay and make a night of it. If in doubt, the ‘When Mamma Feeds You’ menu is an easy option and for when you’re really hungry, the ‘When Nonna Feeds You’ menu will have you suitably stuffed.”  

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