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Wine and food at Old Palm Liqour
Photograph: Parker Blain

The best wine bars in Melbourne

It wasn't easy, but we sipped red, white and rosé across the city to bring you this guide to the finest wine times in town

Written by
Time Out editors
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Whether you're looking for a bar in the north, south, east, or west of our fair city, Time Out Melbourne has got all points of the compass covered. Walk into any of these top-notch wine bars and you're guaranteed service by staff who know what they're talking about, a great atmosphere, and of course, a solid wine list. And being the snack-loving city we are, you can bet these venues are no slouch in the kitchen, either.

For more carefully curated guides to Melbourne's drinking culture, head to our favourite cocktail bars, rooftop bars and whisky bars.  

The best wine bars Melbourne has to offer

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

To drink at Liberty is to revel in the best of all booze. The only rule about each drop here is that it must be a superlative example of its style. Whether it’s wine, cider, cocktails, whisky, vermouth or even housemade soda, every item on the long menu is carefully curated, the variety and quality on offer hard to overstate.

  • Restaurants
  • Carlton
  • price 2 of 4

As much a restaurant as it is a wine bar, Carlton Wine Room comes to you from three industry veterans who have worked under the McConnell and Bartholomew empires. Upstairs is reserved for serious diners, but the front bar and street seating is open for you to drop in for a glass or a cocktail. It gets a little hairy once the sun sets, so strategise or you could be left waiting for a seat.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Carlton North
  • price 2 of 4

Ten years since its inception, this snug bar still sets the benchmark for neighbourhood boozing, with charismatic staff, handpicked imports by the glass and a menu that, like the wine list, draws heavily from Europe.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Brunswick

Owners Almay Jordaan and Simon Denman are describing their East Brunswick wine bar spinoff, Old Palm Liquor, as a pub. We’ve never been to a pub that serves over 300 low-intervention and biodynamic wines alongside 12 tap beers and a super-slick menu cooked over coals with a South African inflection before, but we like it.

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Is Embla a wine bar? That’s a quintessentially Melbourne question of existential proportions. Anyone wanting to humour their assertion could simply point to a wine list that changes like a chameleon and where low-interventionism is the north star. It’s the kind of list where the words “organic” and “bio-dynamic” are only a sommelier away, but fear not: the strike rate here is far higher than at similarly ethosed places.

  • Bars
  • Melbourne

Ben Luzz, managing director of the cocktail bar Gin Palace, opened up Bijou Bottle Store relatively recently in the heart of the CBD. Here, guests can expect to find a boutique bottle store amidst a teeny bar loaded with cocktails, locally and internationally sourced spirits and wines, and exceptional bar eats (don't sleep on the terrine). 

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

This classic Andrew McConnell venue has some natural advantages over any competitors. For one thing, sharing the vast cellar of Cutler & Co means Marion can lay claim to being the best-stocked wine bar in the 'hood, but in reality, there’s no need to venture beyond the shorter list purpose-built for Marion, stuffed with all kinds of vinous excitement by the glass.

Please note that Marion is currently closed and operating as a grocer and the north side outpost for Baker Bleu. For the most up-to-date information, please check directly with the venue.

  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

The great thing about having a wine bar attached to a casual fine-diner with a cracking cellar is that you get access to all of it, but in a more relaxed and social environment. You’d be forgiven for thinking the big, leather bound list at Cumulus Up is full of untouchable museum bottles. Not so. Flipping through, you’ll find a long but impressively engaging and easy to use guide to wine varietals.

 

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  • Bars
  • Fitzroy North

Is there anything quite as heavily contested in 2021 as 'natural' wine? We think not. At Public Wine Shop 'sulphur dioxide' is the enemy, and shows its audience you can opt to compromise on chemicals and maintain flavour. The venue is helmed by seasoned sommelier Campbell Burton and his wife Charlotte Ryan and offers an extensive array of local and internationally sourced organic wine. It's a cosy affair with seats for up to 20 people and chef Ali Currey-Voumard (who has navigated her way through Hobart's culinary scene) puts on an Italian-French leaning menu full of hits.

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

The cafe-to-wine-bar category has been growing strong over the last few years, but the one to beat everyone to the punch is Napier Quarter. Their any-time-of-day anchovy and egg toast bridges the gap between breakfast and light, drinking snack. Wines of the day are scrawled along the wall, and if you're after a particular something, just speak to any of the well-versed staff.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

The City Wine Shop makes for a great long fancy lunch, however, the price tag here is incredibly reasonable for a place whose neighbours include Melbourne institutions The Supper Club and The European. The staff here are wine connoisseurs and they want to talk wine. It’s a great spot for an outside lunch or an indoor wine haunt when you want to hide from the elements.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Amid all the mediocre pasta and manhandling, the warm glow of Kirk’s Wine Bar shines extra bright. Years have passed, but it feels as essential as ever, proving that a classic wine bar, done well, never goes out of fashion. Their list is as deep as it is broad, paying respect to all the old-world staples before giving equal ardour to trailblazing makers like Radikon and local innovators like Memento Mori.

Please note that Kirk's Wine Bar is currently closed. For the most up-to-date information, please check directly with the venue.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Collingwood

The Moon feels more like the VIP room of a nightclub or a sleek cocktail lounge than a wine bar, but that's part of its charm. Along one long wall, beautifully labelled take-away bottles are lit like art in a gallery. The list of wines by the glass is a good balance of approachable and more out-there natural stuff, with a slant towards Alsatian styles.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy North
  • price 2 of 4

Climb the stairs to the first-floor bar and restaurant to discover a clubby, handsome space of vintage bar stools, tapestry and brass. Take your time perusing a 20-page wine list, peppered with natural beauties, impressive imports and little-known locals. Minimal-intervention, biodynamic and organic wines form the backbone of this commendable selection.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Prahran
  • price 2 of 4

Mark Hopkinson and Lyndon Kubis have worked their magic on an old milk bar on Commercial Road, turning the skinny terrace into a sexy slip of a wine bar. Along the wall, some 400 wines, largely boutique Australians and interesting importsare available for you to drink in or take away.

  • Restaurants
  • Collingwood
  • price 2 of 4

You'd be forgiven for thinking Congress is a restaurant rather than a wine bar, considering their pigs head sandwich was one of the most sought-out snacks of 2018. But, they encourage carefree drinking through their wine list featuring large, classic producers of austere wines nestled amongst some trendy, local producers from the Adelaide Hills.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • West Melbourne

Westwood is no ordinary wine bar; they open for breakfast to serve you coffee and toasted sandwiches, lunchtime brings baguettes into the mix, and dinner comes from the inventive hands of Rhys Bennett (Dinner by Heston). There are usually around 10 wines by the glass, all hovering around or below $15 from small, local producers- oft-changing and ever-interesting.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Carlton North
  • price 2 of 4

It’s a brave thing to open a wine bar across the street from Neighbourhood Wine, and a couple of blocks from Gerald’s Bar. But Little Andorra in Carlton North has proven itself worthy, carving out its own identity and nailing the cosy neighbourhood style in an area heavy on options.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Richmond

Care is the number one factor in this quaint little wine bar. Atlas Vinifera has invested money in its compelling and incredibly well-stocked shelves, it has invested time in staff training, and it has a highly functional space while remaining entirely independent. It operates as a retail store as well, so expect a lot of foot traffic, an inordinate amount of regulars and even more cheers.

  • Bars
  • Malvern

A wine cellar in a terrace house sounds better suited to the leafy back streets of Fitzroy or East Brunswick, but Milton Wine is smack, bang in the middle of the high-priced burbs. The tram stops right out front, casually ushering you into a library of wines from Australia and Europe (with a bit of a skew towards Italy).

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy North

Local wines, cheese toasties and hyper-local beers are trademarks of this seductive, wine bar championing all-Australian wines in the inner north.

Please note that Underwood is currently closed. For the most up-to-date information, please check directly with the venue.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

This low-lit, Iberian-style wine bar keeps things deceptively simple and very comfortable, so it is easy to find yourself glued to a stool all night or talking to a regular who makes you feel like you've just walked into their lounge room. Drink from a wine list that reads like an 18 year-old’s gap year hit list with most of Central and Western Europe getting a look in, plus a whole lot of Victorian drops leading the local charge.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Armadale

Educating the good people of Toorak on the wonders of natural and biodynamic wines, the folks at Toorak Cellars have enough tried-and-tested examples to keep everybody happy.

Seddon Wine Store
  • Bars
  • Seddon

One of the best bars in the west, Seddon Wine Store is part wine store, part neighbourhood bar. Choose a boutique label to enjoy in the store, or grab a bottle to go.

Please note that Seddon Wine Store is currently only offering takeaway and delivery. For the most up-to-date information, please check directly with the venue.

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Joanie’s Baretto
  • Bars
  • Thornbury
  • price 1 of 4

At this intimate, cultured Thornbury bar, you can practise your Italian in the bathrooms, where language lessons are piped through the speakers. Drinks are sourced solely from the Boot, and snacks of fritto misto (golden-fried seafood) arrive quick-smart on the table.

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Strangeloves Wine Bar
  • Bars
  • Moonee Ponds
  • price 1 of 4

In the spiritual home of Dame Edna Everage, Strangeloves puts the power firmly in the hand of the punters, by asking the first four guests to choose two reds and two whites. The price of each bottle is then divided by four to decide that day's by the glass list.

More of Melbourne's best bars

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