We Sipped Our Way Through Melbourne’s Best Wine Bars
Wine, Oh Wine
Food and drink trends come and go like the wind, but grabbing a glass of wine with your friends or significant other is arguably the most steadfast social outing there is. Whether it’s for book club, Valentine's Day, after a loooong day dealing with less than ideal bosses and co-workers, or just because, not a whole lot beats settling down with a cheese platter and glass (read: bottle) of your fav vintage in one of the cute wine bars in Melbourne.
Now, you could do this in your own home, sure. But where’s the fun in that? Wine bars are where it’s at dear friends. The choice is – at some spots – endless. You can discover wines you haven’t tried before and a change of scene is good for the soul.
So, we’ve sipped everything from rosè and natural sav blanc through to the lightest pinot noirs and some seriously moreish shiraz throughout Melbourne in the search of the best wine bars in town. In true Melbourne style, you’ll find them in every part of this sprawling city but here are our personal favourites. If you have a local that you’re miffed isn’t included, let us know in the comments and we’ll do our darndest to try it. Arms twisted and all that.
So check our list out and go forth and sip (responsibly):
Wine Bars in Melbourne
The pride and joy of Fitzroy North locals, Neighbourhood Wine is without question one of the best wine bars in Melbourne. Located on Reid Street, the vibe is cosy, the food is brilliant and the wine selection will leave you gobsmacked. This charming venue boasts an extensive selection of wines from all around the world. And not just Old and New World classics – we’re talking wines from Japan, Lebanon and Georgia to name but a few. We love this spot for date night, but it’s also great for smallish groups of friends. Whatever the occasion, it’s certainly one neighbour you’re sure to become very friendly with if you’re anything like us.
1 Reid Street, Fitzroy North, Melbourne 3068Mon: ClosedTues – Sun: Midday til midnight
Pretty much every Melburnian is aware of Cumulus Inc., the iconic Flinders Lane eatery. And while we have major feelings for this incredible venue, it’s the wine bar located upstairs that’s really set our hearts on fire. Cumulus Up is European inspired, edgy yet luxe, features wooden floors and boasts a light feature by Matteo Thun – need we say more? Probably, as there is the matter of the wine. Proudly stocking some of the best Old and New World wines in the city, you can expect a diverse selection highlighting premium vintages, styles, varieties and regions. Then, naturally, there is the menu by Andrew McConnell and Sam Cheetham designed to match the wines – think oysters, charcuterie boards and a particularly moreish Murray Grey sirloin. Enough said.
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000__Tues – Thurs: 5pm til late; Fri – Sat: 4pm til late
Underwood Wine Bar
One of the most ‘Melbourne’ wine bars in town – that’s a good thing, btw – Underwood is a true delight. Cosy, rustic, exposed brick complementing the exposed wine bottles, it’s all happening at this space on St Georges Road. The wine selection is centered around boutique winemakers that are a little different but that certainly pack a punch. Matched with a menu that highlights local Melbourne providers such as charcuterie by Obelix & Co and cheese by Harper & Blohm, it really is a top pick for a pre- or post-dinner drop and a good long chat with your best person or persons.
181 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, Melbourne 3068Mon: ClosedTues – Fri: 5pm til late; Sat – Sun: 3pm til late
With a keen focus on low intervention and sustainable wines, Henry Sugar is an ideal choice for fans of all things natural. More a restaurant than bar, it’s still worth a mention on this list (and this) in our opinion, as the quality of wine and experience from the bar team are second-to-none. It’s the kind of place where you’ll pop in for a glass or two, and then most likely stay to sample the menu. The vibe is buzzing, the staff love a chat and the wine is absolutely brilliant. Try the Gentle Folk sauvignon-chardonnay from South Australia – it’s something else!
298 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, Melbourne 3054__Tues – Thurs: 3 – 10pm; Fri – Sun: 3 – 11pm
In our humble opinion, the best time to go to Gerald’s Bar is late afternoon or early evening. The sunlight hits the yellow awning out the front and the most brilliant but muted light floods the narrow wine bar and restaurant. We also recommend sitting at the bar if you can, and opting for a recommendation from one of the talented bartenders. We did and it was bang on. The food menu changes daily and it’s designed to be shared. The wine is also supremely excellent and the variety is extensive but not overwhelming. Oh, and our tip: order the olive brine spritz, it sounds full on but it’s exceptional!
386 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, Melbourne 3054__Mon – Sun: 5 – 11pm
Championing female winemakers, distillers and cheesemakers from Australia, New Zealand and Europe (yassss!), Juliet is a haven for, well, pretty much everyone who likes delicious drinks and cheeses. Located in the basement of the iconic Punch Lane (see below), a pink neon sign signals Juliet, where below you’ll find temperature controlled wine fridges and ageing meat cabinets on display. The interior is an ode to the bars of Europe and is casual yet intimate in all the right ways. Essential? You’d best believe!
Basement at: 37 – 41 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000__Thurs – Sat: 4:3pm til late
Serving wine to the masses for over 20 years now, Punch Lane is the crème de la crème of wine bars in Melbourne. Situated on Little Bourke Street, it’s lavishly European in design with a dizzying 200-strong offering of Old and New World wine. You can dine here if you wish, or opt for cheese and charcuterie as you sip yourself happy, and it’s ideal for work lunches, post-work drinks or something a little bit more intimate and special. Whatever the case may be, Punch Lane is there for you.
43 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000__Mon – Thurs: 12 – Midnight; Fri: 12 – 1:30am, Sat: 3 – 1:30am, Sun: 3pm – Midnight
If you love wine and hanging out with your friends, but also love being comfortable, Embla is your place. Designed to feel like an extension of your living room, this Russell Street venue is a favourite. Rustic, narrow and intimate without feeling cramped, the selection here is excellent and the service is up there with the best. The food is hearty and rustic and the wine list was created from a collaboration with French natural wine guru, Eric Narioo and Aussie winemaker legend, Patrick Sullivan. Meaning, you’ll come across wines that are a bit out of the ordinary, rare and supremely delicious.
122 Russell Street, Melbourne 3000__Mon – Fri: Midday til late; Sat: 3pm til late; Sun: 1pm til 10pm(ish)
Victorian Wine Centre
As the name suggests, Victorian Wine Centre obviously specialises in wine. Operating as a wine store, cafe and wine bar, this Middle Park spot showcases some truly exciting vintages set in a relaxed and casual environment. Whether you pop in during the day for a bite and a sip or are treating yourself to a wine tasting in the evening, we’re quite sure you’ll be as into this Armstrong Street venue as we are.
22 Armstrong Street, Middle Park, Melbourne 3606Thurs – Sat: From 5pmBottle shop is open every day
Not your average wine bar, we just couldn’t miss out on mentioning Penny Young. One of the coolest places in Melbourne, this Moonee Ponds spot doubles as bottle shop, bar and beer hall. One of our favourite parts of Penny Young is the fact you can enter via the bottle shop at the front and peruse the 350-strong selection of rare beer and wine, which you can then sample at the bar. You can also snack on Italian antipasto while doing all of the above. Need more convincing? There’s also pizza…
22 Young Street, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne 3039__Sun – Thurs: 12pm til late; Fri – Sat: 12pm – 1am