You have free articles remaining this month.
Subscribe now for 50c a week. Subscribe
Login

BEST PLACES TO DRINK WINE: VICTORIA

Hope St Radio

Jayden Ong WinerY and Cellar Bar

8 Hunter Rd, Healesville
jaydenong.com

Go for: the wood-fired Menu and the nearby Four Pillars Gin Distillery

One of the coolest places in the Yarra Valley to enjoy a glass of wine is surprisingly in the centre of Healesville’s industrial estate. Jayden Ong’s Winery and Cellar Bar – with its barrel-lined walls and hanging floral installations – manages to feel intensely artisanal and considered despite the lack of valley views. Ong’s decades in hospitality shine through in the warm, insightful service and the concise but informed range of local and international wines on offer. His Moonlit Forest and One Block labels sit comfortably alongside Sicilian rosato and Pfalz riesling. A hyper-seasonal menu of grilled snacks and produce makes use of the outside grill and wood-fire, inspired by afternoons with friends at Ong’s vineyard in Mount Toolebewong.  CHRISTINA KAIGG

Carlton Wine Room

172-174 Faraday St, Carlton, Melbourne
thecarltonwineroom.com.au

Go for: the private dining spaces to celebrate that special occasion

The sunlit front bar at Carlton Wine Room provides a food and wine haven for locals and hospitality pros alike. Five levels of casual, yet refined dining is on offer from a team of wine and hospitality stalwarts, led by Andrew Joy and Travis Howe. Head chef Conor Heath’s modern bistro-themed menu maintains a wine-friendly, seasonal approach. International classics and local alternatives rub shoulders on a similarly modern 100 bottle list, while the daily ‘staff pick’ by the glass gives the front-of-house team a chance to flex their wine muscles. Simply order a few pieces of the signature anchovy toast and watch the world stroll on by.  CHRISTINA KAIGG

Winespeake
Cellar + Deli

4/26 Vincent St, Daylesford
winespeake.com.au

Go for: the hand-picked cheese and wine flight

The door will barely have closed behind you before you’re immersed in a carefully curated array of wares from small, artisanal food producers sourced locally and abroad. Cast your eye further through the homely-but-chic surroundings and you’re drawn into sommelier Jeremy Shiell’s extensive wine retail program. It follows the same ethos, masterfully balancing classic and quirky. Perch yourself at the timber bar running the length of the floor-to-ceiling windows, or at the large communal table, and enjoy the likes of raw milk cheese from Haute-Savoie in France, a toastie that will change your perception of the dish, and a splash from the ever-changing by-the-glass list.  TOM KLINE

Igni

Ryan Pl, Geelong
restaurantigni.com

Go for: next-level drink pairings

Igni takes everything essential in fine dining and shears it of all the stuff you don’t really need. The address isn’t fancy, and the room is functional rather than a drawcard, putting the focus on superb produce cooked with inspiration and a deft hand, and on the floor team with significant wit and charm. The kitchen plates up a tasting full of pearlers, like Goolwa pipi doughnuts, and scallops laid over crisp and salty chicken skin. The drinks run from non-alcs made in-house with everything from pine cones to broad-bean pods, with wine running to grower blanc de blancs, (very) old-vine Barossa semillon, and that most local of heroes, Best’s cab franc. Coherent, convincing and utterly delicious.  PAT NOURSE

Hope St Radio

35 Johnston St, Collingwood, Melbourne
hopestradio.community

Go for: exciting wines in a vibrant setting

If you like to be able to hear the bubbles pop in your fizz, Hope St might not be your cuppa. But when you’re eating and drinking somewhere that’s as much radio station as it is restaurant and bar, a certain number of decibels ought to be expected. It doesn’t bother the young, up-for-it regulars one bit. They’re here in droves, smashing a sparkling list that barely tips the hat to Champagne, giving the spotlight instead to Piedmontese pét-nats, Provençal natural grenache blanc and Bergerac semillon. Chef Ellie Bouhadana trades in bangers like focaccia with a garlicky whipped butter and Cantabrian anchovies, or a deeply savoury rabbit and pork ragù on pappardelle, while co-founder Pete Baxter pulls out deep cuts from the cellar to a rapturous response from the crowd.  PAT NOURSE

Embla

122 Russell St, Melbourne
embla.com.au

Go for: the alternative varieties and production styles

One could just stop by Embla for a quick glass of wine, but its dark corners, chalkboards and heavy timber tables, combined with the gentle flicker of the kitchen’s wood fire oven, make it remarkably hard to do so. Whether it be a glass of manzanilla or a bottle of local Yarra Valley pinot noir, the wine list showcases a particularly diverse variety of styles, with Christian McCabe’s well-versed and friendly wine team always on hand to guide guests through both the classic and left-of-centre. The delicious simplicity of Dave Verheul’s kitchen offering is in itself a drawcard for the space and provides the perfect excuse to open that second bottle on a weeknight.  CHRISTINA KAIGG

France-Soir

11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, Melbourne
france-soir.com.au

Go for: the buzzing atmosphere, excellent service and classical french menu

Founded by Jean Paul Prunetti in 1986, France-Soir is still one of Melbourne’s most iconic restaurants. This bustling brasserie is the place to go for the classics: steak tartare, salmon gravlax, confit duck; but it’s also home to some of the best people-watching in the city. When you’re seated, a thick, leatherbound wine list is dropped and your every wine dream is there; meanwhile by-the-glass specials are scrawled on mirror-lined walls. France-Soir buzzes with atmosphere – and swinging kitchen doors and appropriately no-nonsense French service set the tone. I love to head there, snag a bottle of Chablis, people watch and share a stack of entrées – followed by steak frites or roast chook. MELANIE CHESTER

City Wine Shop

159 Spring St, Melbourne
citywineshop.net.au

Go for: people-watching and by-the-glass offerings from sought-after makers

Melbourne’s weather isn’t conducive to al-fresco dining, yet every afternoon, City Wine Shop’s sidewalk tables are filled with people. Some are there for coffee, others for inventive bistro fare; most will be enticed to stay for at least one glass of wine from the diverse and ever-changing list. Step inside and be captivated by the library-esque wall of wine, with knowledgeable staff ready to help. The shop offers dine in or takeaway, but definitely dine in – a recent fusion with The European restaurant next door has extended the menu. Don’t worry, the classics remain; parmesan-crusted chicken schnitzel served with Italian slaw, or perhaps The European’s flagship steak tartare.  NICOLE BILSON

Ten Minutes by Tractor

1333 Mornington-Flinders Rd, Main Ridge
tenminutesbytractor.com.au

Go for: the superb tasting at the cellar door

The sleek black exterior of the modern Ten Minutes by Tractor perches seamlessly in the bucolic rolling hills of Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula. The picturesque setting is worth a visit itself, but the beauty isn’t all outside. A modern, chic and lush fit-out matches a fine, top-end, locally sourced paddock/garden to plate tasting menu. Passionate head sommelier Xavier Vigier’s wine list extends past the TMBT offering, and is one of depth and intrigue – showcasing a veritable who’s who of the greatest and most terroir-expressive growers on earth, and comprehensive feature pages abound. Settle in for an intricate display of service, food, and wine from one of the region’s heavy hitting restaurants.  TOM KLINE

Marion Wine Bar

53 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourne
marionwine.com.au

Go for: a view of the open kitchen

Revered restaurateur Andrew McConnell’s benchmark industrial wine bar has been a part of the Fitzroy furniture since sidling up beside his fine-diner Cutler & Co in 2015. It’s a relaxed-but-sophisticated offering with staff who have the firepower to educate you if asked. And ask you may, as head sommelier Liam O’Brien’s wine list is an opus in global vinous exploration that draws on the depth of Cutler’s cellar next door. The generous by-the-glass offering changes regularly and touts the world of wine with no fear of the obscure, complementing a seasonal à la carte food menu that balances concise quality and depth. Enjoy a laid-back culinary dining experience with a wine list to behold.  TOM KLINE


PHOTOGRAPHY BY Harvard Wang, Tom Blachford, Tess Kelly Photography, Kristoffer Paulsen and courtesy Jayden Ong Winery and Cellar Bar, Carlton Wine Room, Winespeake Cellar + Deli, Igni, Ten Minutes by Tractor and France-Soir.