An unassuming store front in Sydney’s inner west houses one of Australia’s most honest and charming wine bars. Where’s Nick is the brainchild of Julian Abouzeid and family. It’s a monument to natural wine and standard bearer for relaxed, neighbourhood bars.
A relative newcomer to the Newtown/Marrickville natural wine stronghold, Where’s Nick has instantly formed a loyal clientele. Abouzeid gained his deep knowledge of avant garde wine producers and importers during his time at Sydney’s Oak Barrel.
Abouzeid has struck out with a mission statement of simplicity. “Where’s Nick is a relaxed venue where wine is treated with respect, but not exclusivity,” he explains. “You should be able to enjoy interesting natural wine without feeling like you need to be an insider.”
The space is decorated casually with up-cycled furniture, a recycled wooden bar, and contemporary artworks. It’s pitch-perfect for drop-ins after work or long sessions exploring the shape-shifting wine list. Overall, Where’s Nick is just so very inviting.
The wine list effectively lines the walls, so patrons can scan the bottles before selecting, a casual interface that engages customers from first visit. Wine is tightly curated at Where’s Nick with Abouzeid keeping to a relatively narrow bandwidth of criteria for selection. “First, the wines need to have no inputs aside sulphur,” he offers. “Second, there needs to be some sort of awareness of the environment. While we would love to be wholly organic, I consider the industry itself as in conversion and do not want to punish people who are working towards that dream.”
Imported wines are a serious feature with Abouzeid working alongside some of Australia’s smaller, focused importers. But Australian wine takes centrestage with Abouzeid drawing on his well of local contacts to offer up-to-the-minute releases from this country’s burgeoning collection of natural winemakers. This focus echoes his desire to encourage local sustainable agriculture and he leads by example with his wine collection.
Food is kept simple, but delicious. Pizza is the mainstay as it works well with the edgy, wild and broad assortment of wine styles. It’s a foil for the cloudy, the orange, the pure, the fresh, the old and the weird – a one size fits all.
Abouzeid is also running regular wine, spirit and beer tasting nights. A boon for those seeking something beyond the simple pleasure and comfort of the venue.
Top Drinks: 2015 Domaine Les Terres Promises l’Alibi Rouge (grenache/syrah) – A juicy, spicy, savoury red of high perfume, slippery texture and a crunchy finish.
2017 Tommy Ruff Making Space Pét-nat – A wildly delicious, wildly vivacious, lightly sparkling wine that gives the impression of white strawberries and amaro-like herbal character.
Drink + Food Match: Abouzeid takes a pretty simple, but pleasing approach to food and wine matching. “A light, earthy red like natural Beaujolais with some French saucisson.” Try Foillard’s, if bottles remain.
Best Dish: “Pizza,” Abouzeid exclaims. “It’s so diverse you can always make it match wine.”
Aside from incredible dumplings, delicious duck and Young Henrys-doused XO pippies, there is a natural wine-dominant list.
A wine list that only showcases wines that are the colour of a sunset seems a mad vision, but it means that rosé, orange wines and hazy whites are the mainstay. So fun.
This little cheese shop has a full license and a wine selection that’s a cornucopia of interesting things to drink.