While the main motivation for dining out is generally a restaurant's culinary prowess, the strength of a diner's wine list can just as easily make or break a dining experience. Quench your thirst on your next dining excursion by guaranteeing stellar sips courtesy of these cracking restaurant wine lists.
fermentAsian, Barossa SA
How to describe fermentAsian’s wine list in one word? Formidable. It currently sits at 87 pages, including aperitifs, beers and sake. An ode to South Australian wine and beyond, curated by co-owner Grant Dickson, the selection is as eclectic and varied as it is vast. Naturally, the Barossa is strongly represented, however Dickson’s tastes also stretch to styles from Alsace, Mosel, Piedmont and Central Otago among others. There is a good choice of wines available by the glass, the listings of which are all accompanied by Dickson's own commentary. Half bottles are also available. Those daunted by the full list can request the restaurant’s Vino Espresso, a snapshot version that comes in at 100 drops.
Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld VIC
The Royal Mail Hotel lays claim to a world-class wine cellar, numbering more than 28,000 bottles, which includes the largest collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy in the southern hemisphere. Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel, the bolthole’s signature restaurant, has a wine list that certainly reflects this prestige. Three types of wine match – cellar, iconic Australian and French – are available to diners indulging with the degustation experience, and all picks are guided by sommeliers.
Aria Brisbane, Brisbane QLD
Aria Brisbane’s head sommelier, Ian Trinkle, is the driving force behind this restaurant’s accolade-scooping wine list. The wine list here is one of the most praised in Australia. It comes in at more than 1000 wines, with listings from around Australia – including a more local focus on Queensland’s Granite Belt – and from international wine regions such as southern France and the Rhone Valley. Diners will peruse an assembly of recognisable names and more boutique producers.
Dolphin Hotel, Sydney NSW
Led by the team from Icebergs in Bondi, The Dolphin Hotel has many feathers in its cap, from its pizza-centric menu to its avant-garde interiors. For wine-lovers, however, the intimate wine room will hold the most magnetism. Overseen by James Hird, the wine room flaunts an inventory that is listed according to wine characteristic. Expect Jura chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon from McLaren Vale under the “Lean, Textural and Alive” banner, while German rieslings can be found beneath “Aromatic, Fresh and Alive”. There are also pages for skin-contact styles.
Bar Liberty, Melbourne VIC
When conversation turns to Melbourne’s top bars, the mention of Bar Liberty is usually not too far behind. Helmed by alum from Attica and Rockwell and Sons, Bar Liberty takes a laidback approach to fine drinking. The list is a stellar read, featuring superlative examples of not just wines but also cider, aperitifs and digestifs. Offerings are interspersed with succinct and snappy insights into varying wine styles and regions. And for those that have ever wanted to master the skill of opening a Champagne bottle with flair, Bar Liberty also offer Champagne sabring lessons.
Lalla Rookh, Perth WA
Lalla Rookh scores points for its wine list on two fronts: there is an outstanding selection available by the bottle, but this Perth diner also presents two lists of wines by the glass. One list is reserved for Lalla Rookh’s main dining area, while the other is served in the attached 20-seat wine store. With a focus on international wine regions, both premium lists also offer half-glass pours. Diners that prefer to dive in with an entire bottle will find a staggering array of styles, from syrah and brunello di Montalcino, to savagnin and gruner veltliner.
Blackbird Bar & Grill, Brisbane QLD
Pore over a list of more than 600 wines at Blackbird Bar & Grill in Brisbane. Spearheaded by Penny Grant, the sommelier for Ghanem Group who cut her teeth at the likes of Taxi Dining Room and Stokehouse St Kilda, the Blackbird list is a champion of Granite Belt wines. It has global breadth too, for drinkers seeking to sip on German riesling, chenin blanc from the Loire Valley, or a Sonoma pinot noir. When you are looking to move on from grapes, the cocktail list is also excellent.
Monopole, Sydney NSW
An eatery that gleans its name from the French word meaning ‘wine monopoly’ sets the mark for its wine list at an extraordinary level. Monopole in Sydney meets and passes this test with distinguished colours. The list numbers more than 500 offerings, a meticulous showcase compiled by Monopole co-owner and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt. A roll call of boutique and obscure vinos will impress seasoned wine aficionados, and those looking to sample as many as possible can choose from the 30-strong available by the glass or carafe.