7 Brisbane wine bars worthy of your thirst
Wine and bar. The two go together like brie and prosciutto, summer and rosé. But just because a bar has a wine list does not make it a wine bar. No no. A wine bar, when done well, is a thing of true beauty. Think small and intimate, with dimmed lighting and a curated list of different varietals from regions across Australia and the world, just waiting for you to taste them.
Brisbane may be the home of XXXX but its residents’ love for grapes has hit fever pitch. Here are some of the city’s best wine bars.
Arc Wine Bar
This latest offering from the Howard Smith Wharves crew is sophisticated and refined, while still being relaxed. Located at the New Farm end of the precinct, it offers uninterrupted views of the Story Bridge and CBD skyline. Step onto the timber deck and pull up a seat at one of the beautiful pink marble tables, which are complemented by matching-coloured menus.
As if the view and the Anna Spiro décor weren’t enough, the wine list has been prepared by sommelier Ian Trinkle, who won best wine list of the year in 2018 at Aria Brisbane. He’s brought together his favourite producers and drops from around Australia and Europe, including Cobaw Ridge in the Macedon Ranges and NSW’s Jilly Wines, who have come up with a private label just for the venue.
Arc Wine Bar is the perfect place for people who love good wine, or who want to learn all about it.
Where: 5 Boundary St, Brisbane City
Prefer you wind-down drinks with a view? Head here for a list of Brisbane’s rooftop bars.
Brisbane’s first urban winery since the 1800s opened its doors in the old Campos Coffee warehouse in Fortitude Valley just this month. Owners Adam Penberthy and winemaker Dave Cush have transformed the space to include a 70-seat restaurant, as well as a cellar and private dining room but the hero is the cellar door, winery and barrel room, which by night turns into a wine bar.
The expansive space at the front of the venue, with its bi-fold doors that allow it to flow into the courtyard, is unlike anything else in Brisbane. It’s also just the third urban winery currently in Australia.
The bar features wines from City Winery’s brand, Gerler Wines. Cush, a former Tasmanian winemaker, knows how to make good vino. He sources the best grapes for his varietals – which most recently included fiano, chardonnay, vermentino, grenache mataro and shiraz – from all over Australia.
Where: 11 Wandoo St, Fortitude Valley
Carl’s Wine Bar and Cafe
City Winery’s little brother opened in late 2018 as part of a plan to introduce people to Gerler Wines before the cellar door’s big reveal. But it’s been so successful it’s now become a permanent fixture of the Newstead bar scene.
The small Wyandra Street venue is modern but elegantly quaint. All the focus is on the wines mentioned above, which are highlighted on individual shelves perched on a blackboard wall at the rear of the space.
Each are available by the glass or the bottle (to have there or takeaway) but they also do tastings. The food should also not be overlooked. Featuring a selection of small and large share plates, most of the ingredients are sourced directly from a Granite Belt farm and put on a bus within hours of being picked.
Put this place on your to-do list for a sneaky mid-week dinner or a weekend date night.
Where: 1/22 Wyandra St, Teneriffe
Beer more your scene? Head here for Brisbane’s ultimate craft beer crawl.
It’s easy to forget you’re just a staircase away from the hustle and bustle of George Street in the CBD when you’ve got a glass in hand here. With its high ceilings and wooden floors, the expansive French bistro resembles a New York loft. But when it comes to the wine list – which is rotated weekly – it’s Aussies only.
Small batch and boutique producers like Mac Forbes, Somos Wines and Honey Moon Vineyard take centre stage, with everything on offer available to buy through the owners’ Spoken Wine website. Pick from the menu or stroll down the length of the bar and pick a bottle at random.
These guys also love to teach people about the different wines on offer and the people who make them, so keep an eye out for their epic winemaker dinners.
Where: 336 George St, Brisbane
Cru Bar & Cellar
This mainstay of Fortitude Valley’s James Street precinct still draws a crowd every day of the week. Toddle up to the bar and take a seat on one of the dusty pink velvet stools or grab a table outside and do a spot of people watching in the cool breeze. Day or night, Cru Bar has a buzz about it.
If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion with a back vintage, this is the place to do it. The wine list is extensive and features bottles from all over the world, with an onus on Australia, France and Italy. It’s broken down by varietal and country, with 30 available by the glass.
Cru Bar also uses the Coravin system, which allows wine lovers to sample limited and aged wines without oxidising the rest of the bottle. Hello, Penfolds Grange!
The food menu is available all day and is designed to share. Don’t leave without trying the hoisin chicken and char sui pork spring rolls. If you’ve got any room left for mains, take your pick out of local banana prawns, Black Angus eye fillet and confit duck with Paris mash and broccoli with speck as sides.
Where: 22 James St, Fortitude Valley
La Lune Wine Co
Everything about this bar oozes French sophistication. Even the name – translation: ‘The Moon’ – has a romanticism about it. The wine bar opened on Fish Lane at South Brisbane a few years ago and has become popular with those with a love for the finer things in life. Like good wine.
Bottles line the wooden shelves behind the marble bar, while those available by Coravin are written in cursive black pen along white tiles. Sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains gently separate the outside world, making it feel like you’ve walked into a bar in downtown Paris.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to drop into La Lune for a quick tipple, we suggest making it a longer affair; think Sunday lunch or a date night. Their five-course tasting menu is a steal at $50 on weekends and $60 during the week. Add wine pairs for $40 extra. Oui oui.
Where: Shop 3/109 Melbourne St, South Brisbane
Clapham Junction Wine Bar Provisions
The northern suburb of Banyo (15kms from the city) is probably not where you’d expect to find an urban wine bar, let alone one with such old-world charm. But push through the old red doors and it’s like stepping back in time to a 1920s speakeasy, where jazz ruled and cocktails were a work of art.
Settle in for an intimate dinner for two at one of the small tables or spend a night with friends at one of the high bars.
With Champagne cork-embellished wallpaper it’s hard to go past a bottle of sparkling, but wines available by the glass include the 3 Drops riesling from Mount Barker in WA, a rose from France’s Loire Valley and a shiraz cabernet from Angas and Bremer in SA.
Cured meats and cheeses reign supreme here. Buy one or five at a time, accompanied by generous serves of warmed baguettes, crackers, pickled vegetables and chutney. Save room for the ANZAC biscuit with toasted coconut, dark chocolate gelato and mango puree for dessert.
Where: 17 Royal Parade, Banyo
Something stronger, perhaps? Head here for Brisbane bars with cocktail flair.