Following the success of the Marrickville natural-wine bar they opened in 2017, Where’s Nick, brothers Julian and Dominic Abouzeid have opened their first store. It’s dedicated to selling unusual wines, spirits and beers that you won’t typically find at a conventional liquor store.
“It was always the dream to open a wine shop,” says Julian, who was once a buyer at acclaimed CBD wine store The Oak Barrel. “My background is in retail and I’m just so much more comfortable in a retail setting. We didn’t know if it would actually happen, but during Covid we had to relook at everything.”
Julian says the popularity of the takeaway shop they ran from the bar during last March’s lockdown gave them the confidence to take the plunge – and their new store has opened right in time for another lockdown.
Handily, the wine shop is located next door to the bar. Thanks to Dominic’s handiwork the space, which used to be a Flight Centre, has been converted into an intimate shop. It features reclaimed timber shelves stacked with rows of wines, some still packed in their boxes, and a growing collection of vintage posters on the walls. “I want it to feel like the CD shops I use to go to when I was 15; not hipster, just a bit like a nerdy hangout,” Julian tells Broadsheet.
While the collection of wine will continue to grow and evolve, some of Julian’s top picks include drops by producers such as central Victoria’s Latta Vino and Brash Higgins from McLaren Vale. “We like to favour people who are growing their own fruits and make their own wine.”
This same ethos is applied to the store’s stock of spirits, sakes and beers. “We’re trying to find and support distilleries in Australia that are also growing their own crop, which is a new trend that we really want to support,” Julian says.
In the corner of the store is a mini deli section, nicknamed the Soviet Deli (because there were only two items on the shelves when they first opened). There’s a range of premium tinned seafood, including spiced sardines in olive oil imported from Portugal, as well as high-quality olive oil, pasta and a small selection of cheese and meats.
Most of what’s available in-store can be ordered online via the newly revamped Where’s Nick website. It’s free delivery on all orders of more than $85 within the Sydney metro area. (And, in good news for Sydney residents during lockdown, same-day delivery if you order before 1pm.) But if you can’t decide on what to buy, there’s a monthly “prescription” service (named “Dr Nick’s”) for $160 a month, where you’ll receive a selection of four or five wines and a 200-millilitre bottle of spirits, or some beer or cider.
But the shop is about more than just selling booze. Julian wants to make sure customers walk out knowing more about what’s in their glass. Upstairs is a 40-person space that will be used for monthly educational sessions and tasting events hosted by industry guests, as well as cult movie nights and Dungeons & Dragons sessions.
“If you know what you’re drinking, you’re in a lot safer hands, particularly with natural wines at the moment where there’s a lot of good labels and not a lot behind it, apart from, ‘Hey, this looks like a cool label and it’s juicy,’” he says. “I want people to be able to come in here with no knowledge and then, after coming here regularly, they know heaps about wine. For me it’s about turning this shop into a bit of a nerd sanctuary.”
Where’s Nick Wine Shop
234 Marrickville Road, Marrickville
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