First published on 29 Jun 2011. Updated on 10 Feb 2014.
Whether you're after a fancy pants slick joint to show off your Prada handbag, or a more homely affair, dimly candlelit with tasty peasant morsels, there's something for everyone south of the Yarra.
Circa has one of the best wine lists in Australia, and you don't need to go the whole hog to appreciate it. Pull up at the bar for a little venison tataki (barely seared) and get sommelier Matt Brooke steer you into something weird and tasty. If you do want to dig a little deeper, they hold educational wine-matched degustations here on a monthly basis. St Kilda.
Dino's looks for all the world like a Cluedo set, with it's dim lighting, stained glass panels, vintage furnishings and fake library wall. It also has a very Euro feeling, well represented by an exciting wine list full of continental plonk at reasonable prices. Wash down a great glass or two partnered with a little Spanish inflected fare (jamon, olives) while you're at it. Windsor.
Being one of St Kilda's most popular Italian eateries, you'll often wait a good hour to be seated at Ciccolina, even during the week. In a side alley, however, you'll find Ciccolina Back Bar. Once you've nabbed a comfy booth, settle in with one of their fabulous Italian bottles and a couple of smaller dishes and you'll probably forget all about getting a table out front. St Kilda.
A slick space that looks almost like an art gallery for wine, Bond Street is a stylish reprieve from all the nostalgic dark wood and stained glass of most Euro-centric wine bars. With countless bottles lining sparse shelves at around head height, it's clear there's plenty on offer here, mostly of Italian origin. Despite the fancy pants locale, the bar food is exceptionally reasonably priced. Bellissimo. South Yarra.
We've all been to the bars that have a vaguely continental sounding name and then pay little or no lip service to the country they're supposed to be evoking. You know the sort, with the faux Italian name and then a wine list that's solidly Victorian. Well, not at Basque, that's for sure. With genuinely mouth watering tapas on offer, it's the outstanding wine list that really seals the deal, with a ridiculous vault of all things Espana. Windsor.
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