First published on 12 Apr 2010. Updated on 20 May 2011.
Heading to Tetsuya's for Saturday lunch and want to BYO something special? Never fear – the good folks at Best Cellars will help you. With a good working knowledge of Sydney restaurants and a very impressive booze selection, you can put your trust in this bottle shop.
There’s far too much fun going on here to be just any old grog shop. With a mirror ball spinning in the European style narrow room with sticks of bread balancing precariously on the counter and disco music pumping of an afternoon, people dance and sample wine and it’s almost scandalous. There’s dips, cheese and olives behind the counter so it also doubles as a little deli and with a great selection of spirits as well as wine and regular wine tasting, it’s hard to go wrong.
One of the most interesting bottle-os in Sydney, it’s run by Jose Fernandez who not only stocks a broad range of Spanish wines, sherries and liqueurs, but also a stack of Spanish dry goods like sweet smoked paprika and tinned white asparagus, as well as a selection of vinegars and most excitingly, jamon (both the more expensive, luscious and flavour rich iberrico and the cheaper and more sandwich-appropriate serrano hams). Chose from a huge range of wines including cava, the sweet Spanish sparkling wine, as well as a great range of longnecks (they’ve got Resch’s Dinner Ale – that student dinner party staple) and Spanish beer.
These guys sell the proper poire William which is a type of very sweet pear brandy. The bottle contains a whole pear and in the spring when the buds of the pears start to break, bottles are placed over the buds so the pears grow in the bottle. In late August/early September, the bottles are harvested and cleaned gently before being filled with the brandy. Only the best pears from the South of France and the Rhone Valley are selected – the quality of the brandy depends on the quality of the pear. Their selection of spirits isn’t as exciting as their wines and brandies but for sheer breadth it’s certainly got charms.
Elizabeth Bay Cellars
It's not always size that matters – E-Bay cellars is small but boasts a very good range of both international and local wines. They also feature an online store, so if you're planning ahead rather than picking up a bottle on the way to dinner, you'll most likely find what you're looking for, or they'll be able to find it for you.
Bondi's massive store has an excellent range of Champagne at very competitive prices. It's a great place to save money if you buy your booze in bulk and there's a huge selection.
The Little Bottle Shop of Glebe
This tiny little bottle shop is your perfect local – they remember what you drink and always have suggestions when it comes to new things you might like to try (they got us onto Sundowners – the incredibly crisp, sweet and drinkable new brew from James Squire).
An impressive selection of French and Italian regional wines as well as Australian gear and a range of cheeses, house made duck terrine (made next door in Bistro Moncur) and sausages. All the wines Bistro Moncur can be found at their cellars which means you can pick up a bottle of anything special you tried during your meal. They also conduct tastings and table talk evenings where for a mere 15 bucks you can go along, get a bit of wine education and meet the viticulturalists (wine growers) who make it all happen.
Right in the heart of Little Portugal, it's the best place to buy vinho verde (Portuguese green wine), as well as ginjinha (Portuguese cherry liqueur), artichoke liqueur and the many beers of Portugal.
Ultimo Wine Centre
What these guys don’t know about wine wouldn’t fit in a paper cup. And it’s not just wine here, either – they also have an amazing range of whisky, grappa and port as well as beautiful glassware and decanters. And apart from anything, it’s got a great smell – kinda like a mix between old wood, dust, straw and wine – and it’s huge which means you’ll be able to find at least one treat to take home with you. They also do regular dinners at some of Sydney’s top restaurants with visiting winemakers and have tastings on Saturday arvos.