There’s good news and bad news. Wines of While, a cosy wine bar and bottle shop at the top of William Street, has finally opened. The bad news? Just rocking up to the bar is no guarantee of being able to get in.
Since not-so-quietly opening last week (the first week of August), Wines of While has been all-but gang-tackled by local drinkers. Every night, the bar has reached capacity with guests being turned away during peak periods – even on a drizzly Tuesday night. The bar’s owner and freshly minted publican Sam Winfield is as surprised as anyone at the opening response.
“The interest that people have in natural wine or at least trying something new has been beyond what I thought,” he says. “I hoped there would be a market and that people would be interested. Regardless of what they’re used to drinking, everyone that’s come in has been super keen to try something new and happy to hand over the reins to our staff.”
It’s not hard to understand the appeal of this week-old bolthole. Unashamedly inspired by and modelled after establishments such as Embla (Melbourne), 10 William Street (Sydney) and P.Franco (London), this cosy 50-seater bar and takeaway bottleshop is a celebration of organic and natural wines. A chalkboard details the day’s by-the-glass offerings with selections taking in everything from fresh and gluggable Italian-Australian whites to blush, skin-contact wines made from mtsvane, a grape native to the ancient winemaking country of Georgia. The selection changes from day to day, if not, from afternoon to evening. Alternatively, any of the 200 wines in-stock can be bought and drunk at the bar.
Although wine is the bar’s calling card, the food offering is equally impressive, not least because Winfield is also in the kitchen (during the day, it’s not uncommon to find the semi-retired medico juggling wine-pouring and cooking duties). The menu is tight and proudly Mediterranean in make-up – think terrines, pastas and addictive slow-cooked cannellini beans – and plays exceedingly well with the wines on offer.
“I’m not a chef so I don’t want to cook chef-food, you know?” says Winfield. “I want to cook cook-food. Wines of While is my dining table where I get to share wines that are farmed exceptionally with sustainability in mind and are priced and served in an accessible way, with food that’s honest, simple and humble.”
Dark of crust, chewy of crumb, Winfield’s sourdough is essential eating. The focus on baking extends to the knackebrot, a crisp Norwegian flatbread accented with sesame and nigella seeds and served with each day’s cheese selection. Coffee options begin and end with Twin Peaks filter brewed using a MoccaMaster. A small selection of boutique and big-brand beers is also available.
While the opening rush is keeping Winfield and team plenty busy, he hopes the bar might one day become a local version of Melbourne’s Cumulus Inc and serve customers from morning till late.
Wines of While
458 William Street, Perth
(08) 9328 3332
Tue-Thu, Sun 12pm-10pm
This article was updated on September 20, 2018. This article first appeared on Broadsheet on August 8, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.