is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

Photograph by Ben Dearnley

The drinking scene in Sydney has changed. Since the city’s small bar revolution started in 2007, chic wine bars have sprung up all around town, almost overtaking the number of pubs and offering the perfect place to settle in for a long night of sipping and supping with friends. Here are four of the best wine bars where you can enjoy a local drop in style.


Ash St. Cellar
Venture into the centre of the city to Sydney’s famous Ivy complex—which gathers eight bars, three restaurants, and a rooftop pool—where, in a hidden laneway, you spy Ash St. Cellar. You can’t resist the call of the alfresco, Parisian-style cafe seating. As soon as you choose your spot, peruse the wine list that focuses on boutique drops from around the world. You might decide to go with a local vermentino from Heathcote in Victoria—a savoury yet uniquely floral white wine with a hint of oak that pairs perfectly with those spiced prawns with avocado, lime, and fennel on the modern Mediterranean tapas menu.


The Shop and Wine Bar
For a more casual experience with a true local feel, head to The Shop and Wine Bar in Curlewis Street just off Bondi Beach. A café by day, by night this tiny space transforms into one of Sydney’s best wine bars, with vintage velvet wallpaper, low lighting, and a local, casual feel. The short and sweet wine list offers some fantastic local drops, including a delicious Tasmanian pinot that mixes notes of sweet cherry, plum, and spices. Enjoy it with some antipasti, charcuterie, or cheese.


Walk into the intimate, dimly lit Surry Hills space that is
 121BC, grab a stool around the long communal bar, and take your time perusing the lengthy wine list. It changes monthly, but Italian drops appear regularly. There are some yummy share plates on offer to accompany whichever wine you choose (the mozzarella fried in bread crumbs is particularly tasty), plus there’s a boutique wine shop attached to the bar. Take a bottle of your favourite home with you, or drink it right in the bar.


10 William Street
Blink and you’ll miss
 10 William Street, a two-storey wine bar and restaurant with no signage, as you walk down Paddington’s famous Oxford Street. Once you do find it, grab a table in the low-lit dark timber room, and keep it simple with a glass of wine and bowl of pasta (the pasta and bread are both made in house), or try some of the more exciting dishes of hand-cut beef tartare or a fancy fried chicken burger. Either way, the main event is the organic, Italian- and French-oriented wine list, unpretentiously written up on a big chalkboard on the wall. Bottoms up!


Leave a Reply