The thing so many breweries and beer-focused bars do really well is range. Like Moon Dog World, with its astounding 72 taps, and Stomping Ground, where the selection stretches from “Easier Drinking” to “Moderately Challenging” to “More Challenging”. And there’s Beermash, with its double-decker rows of taps, and The Local Taphouse in St Kilda East, which taps hundreds of different brews every year.
If you’re tapping a keg it’s no big deal to pour dozens of different styles at once. Wine bars, though, have a harder time when pouring by the glass. Wine oxidises quickly, and – without a Coravin wine preserver – a full bottle will go to waste if only one glass gets sold.
But with the help of some clever wine tech, co-owners Charlotte Sewell and Jacob Davey are bringing that all-encompassing, crowd-pleasing brewery ethos to the new Northside Wines, where they’ll always have between 35 and 40 wines by the glass.
“We got the idea when we were back in London last year and we saw it starting to kick off over there,” says Davey. “You can go to these wine bars and they’ve got 10 Enomatic machines, and you can try 100 different wines in one bar.”
The Enomatic launched in 2002, whereas the Coravin hit the market in 2013. Both work by extracting wine from a bottle and replacing it with inert gas, which keeps the wine fresh for longer, but the Coravin is for single bottles – the Enomatic holds eight or more.
“There are about 100 different wine varietals grown in Australia,” says Jacob. “Around 80 per cent of the market is dominated by five grapes such as pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz. We want to give an outlet to those other 95.”
Sommelier Broc Williams is looking to Australian-grown versions of Italian varieties such as fiano and arneis, and other Europeans such as Spain's mencia and Austria’s dark-red blaufränkisch and zweigelt (which is sometimes compared to pinot noir).
The curious or indecisive can go for a wine flight, which tops out at $22 for three 60ml pours. Themes include regions, styles and categories such as natural wine – think pét-nats, funky reds, and skin-contact numbers.
In the kitchen, chef Emmanuel Vasquez is working native Australian ingredients into Italian fare. A charred cauliflower starter is enhanced with Geraldton-wax-infused tahini (“like a more earthy lemongrass,” says Davey), while wattle-rubbed kangaroo is slow cooked in red wine, the resulting ragu served with pappardelle.
The local theme intensifies with a cheese-and-Vegemite ravioli, where lamb is cooked in a beef and Vegemite broth, then stuffed into ravioli with a three-cheese bechamel.
There’s pizza, too, which can be made gluten-free (as can the pasta) for an extra $2.
The space is large and open plan, its black walls punctuated by vibrant murals of Australian native flora, courtesy of Davey’s stepfather Wayne Phillip. Tables are made with repurposed shelving (made from Queensland Cyprus), and the outdoor courtyard is astroturfed, with op-shop paintings of Australian country scenes hanging on a back wall.
543-545 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9188 4255
Tue to Thu 4pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–1am