Forget your run-of-the-mill bottleshops, these boutique wine stores are reinventing the wine wheel, offering customers a bespoke shopping experience.
The Smudge team have travelled through Melbourne’s suburbs to find the shops selling some top drops, leaving the guesswork out of your next wine purchase.
NORTH – WINE REPUBLIC
Wine Republic was swift to secure its place at the forefront of Melbourne’s exemplary wine retailer scene. Hell, they even snagged the ‘Best New Company’ gong at 2015’s Australian Small Business Awards.
An amble through the Brunswick Street store has a gallery-like feel to it and selecting a bottle is a ritual not to be rushed. More than 1500 wine varieties line the store, rivalled by a wall of chilled beers and ciders stretching the length of the space. Super-knowledgeable staff are happy to steer your decision, whether your poison tends to wine, beer, cider, gin, rum, whatever – they’ve got it and they know it well.
Local artists, designers and illustrators shaped Wine Republic’s design (also lavished with awards), resulting in a space teeming with Fitzroy’s signature polished grit.
Monday, Tuesday 11am – 8pm
Wednesday to Thursday 11am – 9pm
Friday, Saturday 10am – 11pm
Sunday 12pm – 8pm
265 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC
03 9995 5528
CBD – CITY WINE SHOP
A hole in the wall nook in which to seek shelter, warmth, good chat and, of course, stellar wine – the City Wine Store is adored by all Melburnians serious about their city and wine in equal measure.
The bar and bottle shop stocks a 400-strong range of Victorian, Australian and European wines and is renowned for its strong Champagne focus and expertise. Select a bottle, steal a seat at the bar and take in the passing parade of work-weary suits, smiling theatregoers, and gelato enthusiasts beelining for the next-door specialty grocer and gelataria, all against a backdrop of Spring Street’s striking Treasury Building.
Flanked by The European, Melbourne Supper Club and Siglo (all owned by the same group), City Wine Shop could hardly offer anything less than a near-encyclopaedic catalogue of wine varieties for the city’s switched-on winos.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 7am – 10pm
Friday 7am – 11pm
Saturday 9am – 11pm
Sunday 9am – 10pm
159 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC
03 9654 6657
BAYSIDE – HARRY AND FRANKIE
Few scenarios sound more appealing than lifting your chosen bottle of wine from the shelf of a well-stocked specialty store, shuffling a few metres to the welcoming bar, popping the top and sampling the grapey goods with a side of charcuterie.
That’s standard practice at Harry & Frankie, Port Melbourne’s star wine store and bar. Owner Tom Hogan’s time as sommelier at Daylesford’s Lake House sharpened an industry-leading body of knowledge, setting solid foundations for Harry & Frankie’s offering.
Select your heart’s desire from 600 beers, wines and ciders. Or if you lean to grappa, whisky, cognac, Armagnac or Amari, or perhaps a Negroni or an Aperol Spritz, then you’re in luck, as each is a Harry & Frankie specialty (as is wine on tap).
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 4pm – 11pm
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11am – 11pm
317 Bay Street, Port Melbourne VIC
03 9645 4414
EAST – ARMADALE CELLARS
Renowned far and wide for its experts’ unparalleled knowledge and its Sherlock Holmes-like ability to hunt down hard-to-find drops, Armadale Cellars is an enduring gem and chief educator of Melbourne’s wine scene.
Curious novices as well as those advanced in all things vino can enrol in Armadale Cellars’ widely varied, interactive and in-depth courses that probe topics such as varieties, regions, wine and food pairing, and palate training.
In addition to its superlative range – each wine is subjected to stringent tastings for quality and complexity – Armadale Cellars offers everything an enthusiast needs for a well-rounded arsenal including Riedel stemware and a solid selection of decanters.
Monday to Saturday 10am – 8pm
813-817 High Street, Armadale VIC
03 9509 3055
WEST – BLACKHEARTS AND SPARROWS
Blackhearts and Sparrows wine stores have popped up across Melbourne at a steady click since the first opened its doors in 2005. Their six-store strong growth is testament to the sterling talent (and palates) of sibling owners Paul and Jessica Ghaie.
Each bottle of wine, beer and cider has been tasted, assessed and approved to ensure every drop on the premises is of faultless quality. Blackhearts and Sparrows’ staff know their stuff inside and out and are keen to share their nous online as well as in-store: their daily updated website steers keen drinkers to Cheap Tuesday bargains, ‘What We Drank Last Week’ sommelier insights, as well as invitations to regular events such as the Kensington store’s recent ‘A Taste of Spain’ gathering.
Monday to Thursday 11am – 8pm
Friday 11am – 9pm
Saturday 11am – 9pm
Sunday 11am – 8pm
516 Macaulay Road, Kensington VIC
03 9939 6228
SOUTH – PRINCE WINE STORE
Prince Wine Store is a destination for the serious, and for those confident in their ability to remain calm when indecision – brought on by a 4000-strong selection of wines – takes hold.
At the centre of the sprawling South Melbourne space stands the POD – a climate-controlled room reserved for drops of rare ilk. The impressive space can be hired for functions and welcomes guests regularly for master classes, tastings, events and wine courses.
Known for their depth of knowledge, the store’s specialists are always keen to help customers navigate the seemingly limitless selection, which includes more than 500 beers.
If left feeling weary from all the wandering and sommelier speak, sidle through the arch to Bellotta Wine Bar and enjoy a glass of your chosen drop with fresh seafood, salumi, or a red’s-best-friend steak.
Seven Days 9am – 8pm
177 Bank Street, South Melbourne VIC
03 9686 3033