Sydney has bottle shops on every corner, but if you're looking for that perfect drop – whether it be a cleanskin or a 100-year-old vintage – you should visit someone who really knows their stuff and can give you the lowdown in simple, plain English, minus the indecipherable wine speak. Here are some of our favourite places to pick up a bottle of wine in Sydney.
A beloved Bondi institution, Kemenys has been around since the 1960s. Back then, when drinking anything other than beer was considered peculiar, Kemenys was at the forefront of educating Sydneysiders about everything wine related. And it's the same story today, with knowledgeable, friendly staff working the floor. A particularly good place to source Champagne, kosher wines and South American drops, Kemenys is also well known for its mix-and-match dozen policy. The remainder of the building is a supermarket, so grab some cheese and crackers while you're there.
137-147 Bondi Road, Bondi
North Sydney Cellars
North Sydney Cellars houses an astonishing collection of wines from all over the world. They're big on Italian varieties and offer some terrific drops from Sicily and Tuscany. Try a bottle of Catarratto or Chianti if you want in on the action. Aside from bottle sales, owners David Cochran, Ben Ryan and Julian Gutierrez also operate the adjoining wine bar, Drink Better Wine. The mod-Oz, Mediterranean-inspired eatery does everything from cheese plates to square meals, all accompanied by a rotating roster of 35 wines by-the-glass.
189 Miller Street, North Sydney
(02) 9954 0090
Part of the Woollahra Hotel – which also houses French eatery Bistro Moncur – Moncur Cellars is the place to source labels from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. They have tastings every Saturday, as well as regular wine education evenings where you can meet producers and learn more about winemaking. Wines poured next door at Bistro Moncur are available to buy, so if something takes your fancy at dinner, you can relive the good times at home. They also have a selection of food products to match your wine; the homemade duck terrine gets particularly good reviews.
116 Queen Street, Woollahra
(02) 9327 9715
Around since 1947, Camperdown Cellars has over 1000 varieties of wine to choose from. Head here for hard-to-find Italian and French drops. They also do a rip-roaring trade in local wines and often feature small Australian wineries in their promotions. It isn't solely about vino though – they also stock 350 types of beer, many from small, indie brewers. There's also a pretty hefty selection of whiskey available, if that's your poison. The main stores are in Camperdown, but there are outposts in Leichhardt, Darlinghurst, Double Bay and Bronte.
140 Parramatta Road, Camperdown
(02) 9517 2000
Ultimo Wine Centre
The Ultimo Wine Centre has everything a wine enthusiast could possibly imagine: bottle sales, wine tastings, wine education courses, glass and accessory sales, and even a wine-related bookshop. The selection is astounding; forget about Chardonnays and Cab Savs – how about a Nebbiolo, Sagrantino or Tempranillo? And despite the fact that you can spend jaw-dropping sums of money (a bottle of Rivesaltes Domaine Sainte Croix from 1909, a French, partly-fortified red, will set you back a cool $600), they also offer plenty of interesting and exotic drops for under $50 as well. There are free tastings every Saturday, although, they probably won't let you try the Rivesaltes.
99 Jones Street, Ultimo
(02) 9211 2380
The Oak Barrel Liquor Store
With a name like The Oak Barrel, you can be sure you're in good hands here. Overseen by wine enthusiast and former doctor Paul Downie, this city grog shop has wines from Argentina, Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, NZ, Portugal, Spain and the USA. Head down to the custom-made vault to look at rare, decades-old vintages. They also put on a heap of events, including food and wine pairings and explorations of wines from different regions. They're also well known for their organic wine selection and wines sourced from boutique wineries. Wine lovers won't ever want to leave.
152 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
(02) 9264 3022