Choosing a wine bar in Melbourne can be as difficult as choosing a bottle at the local liquor store. Luckily we’ve taken some of the guesswork out of the equation with our list of 9 of the best wine bars in Melbourne that you have to try!
Each of these offer a unique experience and focus, with bars shorting from stylish modern interiors, to spaces that feel as if you’re in an old friend’s back room. Whether you’re after an Italian red, or a locally produced equivalent, there’s a wine bar in this list that will suit your specific desire.
Underwood Wine Bar in Fitzroy North is a champion of all things Australian. Owner and sommelier Michael Underwood is committed to supporting local growers and has curated a small but exciting drinks list showcasing local winemakers and brewers from around the state.
Like the wine list, the charcuterie board is locally sourced, with all components coming from local businesses and producers. If you’d prefer something a little less fancy than a charcuterie board, give one of their delicious cheese toasties a try (the Grilled capsicum, cheese + pesto is not to be missed)!
To be found in a classic Victorian building, Bellota Wine Bar is the welcome extension of the renowned Prince Wine Store, which boasts a selection of over 3,500 bottles. Bellota takes full advantage of this to offer arguably one of the best and most extensive wine lists in Melbourne.
To accompany their impressive and ever-changing wine offerings, there is a food menu to match. As well as the expected selection of bar snacks and antipasti, there is also a more substantial menu of full-sized mains including steamed mussels and lamb shoulder ragu.
Andrew McConnel’s Marion is a wine bar for enthusiasts. Located on Fitzroy’s Gertrude street, Marion spans two shopfronts next door to one of Melbourne’s favourite restaurants Cutler & Co. The wine list at Marion is impressive and comprehensive, showing off some of the best wines from around the world.
The interior is an industrial style fit out, perfectly marrying vintage and modern aesthetics which makes for a space where you’re likely to go in for a glass, but want to stay for a bottle. We recommend trying to snag a prime position at a table in the front windows, so you can enjoy the sun and watch the world go by while you sample the wines on offer. Note, however, there may be some fierce competition for these tables!
Bar Liberty, located on Johnston street, Fitzroy, is a laid back and relaxed affair where the focus is really on the quality of their drinks. They’ve fostered relationships with some of Australia’s best vignerons, brewers and roasters, which really demonstrates that the bar staff here really take pride in everything they serve.
This care and pride can be seen in the carefully curated drinks list, ranging from wine and beer through to whisky, vermouth and even housemade soda. It’s refreshing to have a bar that takes their drinks so seriously but still create an atmosphere of fun, as exemplified by the fact they named their bar after an obscure quote in Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith (we’ll give them bonus points for that).
The third and final Fitzroy entry in our list is Napier Quarter. Unlike Marion and Bar Liberty, Napier Quarter is not on a main street, but rather hidden away on a backstreet corner in Fitzroy, not far from the soon to open Veriu Collingwood hotel. A self-described ‘espresso and wine bar’ Napier Quarter is unique in that it is a café during the day, and transitions to a wine bar in the evening once the coffee machine is switched off.
They offer a continental breakfast and artisan espresso from 9am until midday, and then switch to share plates and wine thereafter. You can select from their menu of small plates and platters, or order from one of their larger shared menus, appropriate for groups of 5 or more people.
A short stroll from the Queen Victoria Market in West Melbourne, you’ll find Willows & Wine. Along with bottles of wine, the walls are stacked high with pre-loved books, organised according to genre. You’re welcome to pick one up and read while you sip, and if you simply can’t put it down, don’t worry as they’re all available for purchase!
If books aren’t your thing, there’s also a large communal table, complete with plenty of board games to try out. Willows & Wine is a great place for a glass of wine and a cheese board on a quiet afternoon, or a catch-up with old friends alike.
The Carlton wine room is as much a restaurant as it is a wine bar, but is still well-deserving of a spot in this list. This venue is deceptively large, with five levels including a 20-person private dining room, two dedicated event spaces, and a spacious second dining room. Amazing as these spaces are, the main event is on the ground floor, where the wine bar is located.
Wine connoisseurs are in for a treat here, with a 100-bottle wine list carefully assembled by co-owner and ex-Coda and Tonka sommelier Travis Howe. We would highly recommend you come hungry, so you can enjoy a meal from the equally impressive menu of European influenced Australian food.
With nearly as many awards as it has wine varieties, no list of Melbourne’s best wine bars would be complete without a mention of Gerald’s Bar. Owner and namesake Gerald Diffey has had a hand in some great restaurants in his time, but has styled Gerald’s Bar to feel very relaxed and homely. Walls adorned with trinkets and artefacts give the feeling you are actually enjoying someone’s living room rather than a public bar.
Despite the homely feel and friendly staff, the wine list is impressive and varied. With a selection that changes frequently, and on the whim of the management, a safe bet is to go for a glass from one of the open bottles in the silver ice buckets that line the back of the bar.
While many of the best wine bars in Melbourne are to be found in the leafy northern suburbs, Milton Wine Shop is the champion that the southern suburbs deserve. Located in Malvern in Melbourne’s south east, Milton doubles as a wine retailer, offering a huge selection of wines which can be enjoyed both in store and at home.
They have a particular penchant for biodynamic natural wines, made with no preservatives or other additives. Although a little more expensive, these natural wines are worth a try, as they are touted as being less likely to give you a hangover (though this is still dependent on how much you drink, of course). Milton Wine Shop has a strict “no wine snobbery” policy at the bar, with customers encouraged to ask questions and broaden their palates at their own pace without being made to feel self-conscious.
It’s certainly true that Melbournians love their wine, so it should come as no surprise how many amazing wine bars there are to choose from. The variety of bars is almost as extensive as the variety of wine you might expect to find on offer at any of them. While hopefully this list has helped you narrow down which bar to visit, unfortunately we can’t help you choose which wine to order, that bit is entirely up to you!