Anyone who says that home is the best place to unwind after a long day hasn’t been to a good enough wine bar.
In Sydney, the streets are pretty packed with sweet bodegas to stop by for a glass before inevitably staying for a bottle. Whether you’re pining for a pinot or in need of a natty, Sydney’s best wine bars have got you covered. From Surry Hills to Double Bay, to Coogee Beach and back again, here are the best spots to enjoy a sip or two (or three).
These are Sydney's best wine bars.
Coogee Wine Room
Up until now, Coogee’s never had its own wine bar. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Opening mid-2019, Coogee Wine Room has seized the opportunity to become the seaside suburb’s first designated vino venue. Founded by locals Tom Hardwick and Michelle Morales, the new spot is just a block from the beach, mixing Euro-chic with salty suburbia. Over a 30-page menu, you’ll find 400 wines including 28 by the glass.
Paired with a Mediterranean style menu, this new edition is the perfect place to post up after a day at the beach.
Perched at the front of the stunningly designed Paramount House Hotel you’ll find Poly, a walk-in wine bar owned by the crew behind Chippo’s Ester. No matter what night of the week, Poly is always pumping, and for good reason. As General Manager Adam Hall explains, “A one-hundred-and-something strong list of natural wines from the best producers in Australia and around the world. A constantly rotating selection of almost 20 wines by the glass. Bar snacks by Mat Lindsay. And the best bit? Over half the seats saved for walk-ins every night!”
10 William Street
This hole-in-the-wall wine bar might seem quaint on the outside, but don’t let its façade fool you. The second you step foot inside this spot off Oxford Street in Paddington, prepare for a sensory overload, as if you've been transported direct to a local favourite in a European city. What’s that loud, vivacious roar? That’s the sound of an entire bar enjoying themselves in unison. Always bustling, never vibe-less, 10 William Street has become a classic for wine buffs and foodies alike. With an ever-evolving wine list, many bottles come and go—but one thing stays with you forever, and that’s their famous pretzel with whipped Bottarga. Honestly, no words adequately describe its beauty.
Love, Tilly Devine
What Love, Tilly Devine might lack in space, it sure as hell makes up for in wine selection. This back-alley treasure in Darlinghurst is a natural vino vulture’s dream bar. “The wine served at Tilly is minimal intervention wine, or what people call ‘natural wine’”, explains Love, Tilly Devine's Samuel Woods. “For us, this is just wine that is free of chemicals and preservatives and wine that is fermented without the addition of yeasts. This results in wine whose flavour is more unique to the region since the yeast for the fermentation is found naturally occurring on the skin of the grape and results in a wine which is better for you.” Wait, wine that’s good for you? Sold!
The Dolphin Hotel Wine Room
In the heart of Surry Hills, you’ll find the Dolphin Hotel, and inside the maze of canvased walls and rope chandeliers, you’ll find its beloved Wine Room. At the helm is James Hird (Bondi Icebergs), serving 150 different wines by the bottle and 35 by the glass. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s also an impressive menu of small plates to devour as you taste your way through the vineyards of Australia and beyond.
Dear Sainte Eloise
Matthew Swieboda and Nathanial Hatwell must be doing something right because this is their second bar that’s made this list. As with their other successful venture—see above for Darlinghurst’s Love, Tilly Devine—Dear Sainte Eloise devotes much of its focus on minimal intervention wines. But what else makes it so special?
“The list at Dear Sainte Éloise celebrates some of the great winemakers who have defined what wine can and should be”, says Swieboda. “It’s also a list that gives a voice to the young and experimental winemakers of the present who will help define wine’s future. We believe that wine is an interconnected community full of sharing and learning, creating and drinking. The beautiful thing about drinking the wines of the world is that you become a part of that community simply by lifting a glass”, he says. And we say, cheers to that.
Illuminated by the glow of a thousand (totally random guess for poetic license) fairy lights, The Winery is the perfect place to share a bottle with friends in a whimsical garden atmosphere. The wine list is meticulously curated, offering over 30 varieties by the glass, and the accompanying food menu offers everything from delectable charcuterie boards to good old-fashioned hamburgers. This is a quintessential Crown St experience.
Ever taken a sip from a glass of wine and thought: This would taste better if it was poured from a Magnum? If you just answered yes to that question, congratulations on all of your successes. Jokes aside, Merivale’s latest addition to the Ivy precinct, Little Felix, turns the midweek wine or date night drink up a notch or three with its magnum-only pour policy. If you’re looking to sip on some fine wine to the soundtrack of smooth jazz in a bar of emerald and gold—pull up a stool at Little Felix.
An ode to owner Jared Merlino’s Italian heritage, Bartolo wine bar in Surry Hills boasts an all-Italian wine list and a full Italian-inspired food menu to boot. On top of feeling like “your little Italian home-away-from-home”, Merlino says Bartolo is perfect for a long, light-filled lunch or a cosy intimate dinner. As for the wine list, “We pour 8-10 Italian reds and 8-10 Italian whites at any given time, with a good offering via the Coravin which allows us to showcase some great premium offerings by the glass on rotation. We have a heavy Sicilian and Southern Italian focus, to pay homage to the family’s lineage”, he says.
Bibo Wine Bar
Though the leafy suburb of Double Bay isn’t exactly synonymous with the vibrant streets of Portugal, Bibo Wine Bar presents a pretty convincing argument. Dimly lit with dark wood interiors and European-style bistro chairs, Bibo “is a great opportunity for diners looking for refined food in an elegant and casual atmosphere at the same time”, says manager Jonathan Mallet. “You can share a full tasting menu with matching wine with your loved one for hours, or simply enjoy a glass of wine and Portuguese-style snacks with a group of friends”, he says.
The Wine Library
Since opening its doors and beginning its pours in 2010, The Wine Library has become somewhat of an institution for the wine buffs of Woollahra. Despite its lofty Eastern Suburbs location, it’s a super unassuming wine bar with surprisingly decent prices. Inside, wine glass silhouettes line the walls, and the clientele is a mix of friendly locals and serious wine connoisseurs. If you consider yourself among the latter, order a "blind pour" at the bar and put your tastebuds to the test. If you can name the type of grape and its origin, the glass is on the bartender. If you get it wrong, you enjoy a delicious new wine for $14. There are no losers here.
In the mood for a cold one instead? Check out Sydney's best beer gardens.
Image credit: Lisa Brooke | Love Tilly Devine