Brisbane’s bottle shops turn into wine bars

Brisbane’s bottle shops turn into wine bars

Brisbane’s bottle shops turn into wine bars

It is late Friday afternoon on the outskirts of Brisbane, about the time when “everyday drinking” switches to more respectable “knock off” drinks. We sit at a communal table and enjoy a glass of wine with strangers as a cheery playlist winds its way through decades and genres. We are not in a bar, in a pub or even in a restaurant. Rather, we are in a shop. More precisely, a wine shop.

Queensland Bottles was a place you briefly stumbled upon on your way somewhere else. And while old school chains may still be the place for a smash and grab weekend, a growing number of independents in Brisbane have embarked on wine store / bar hybrids more aligned with Italian. wine shop.

Sommelier and winemaker Danilo Duseli took over Ashgrove’s Arcade Wine in a retro arcade four months ago. He comes from northern Italy, where aperitif the hour sees the locals gather wine bars that populate even the smallest villages for a neighborhood meeting, an aperitif before dinner and, always, food of some kind.

“It is very unusual to drink wine in Italy without something to eat,” he says, placing rounds of bread topped with anchovies and homemade green sauce.

I fell in love with the small bars in Spain and the rest of Europe, that really intimate environment

Michael Nolan

As we sip our wine, many customers turn to Duseli, eager for advice or to report on previous purchases. Some pause for a while, grabbing a stool at the table or settling on the sofa to enjoy a glass. Next to us, a couple remembers their recent trip to the Tuscan cellars.

“My goal is to get to know my customers and educate them about wine”, says Duseli, and he is not alone.

A similar ethic exists at Wineism in Albion, Grape Therapy in CBD, Barbossa in South Brisbane, Baedeker in Fortitude Valley, and Honor Avenue Cellars in Graceville.

“Although the opportunity to have a wine shop / wine shop combination has been around since the wine industry law was passed in 1994, it is probably the interest in all things artisanal developed in recent years that has led to the people watching what’s possible lately, ”says Matthew Jones, a liquor licensing specialist from Queensland.

The shops use a “wine merchant license”, which allows a local to sell wine both to take home and by the glass. The license was created specifically to support the Queensland wine industry, the granting of which depends on the venue’s active contribution, either by selling and promoting Queensland wines or, in some cases, by making them yourself. Currently, there are about two dozen Queensland companies using the license.

“It’s definitely the cheapest and one of the only ways someone can participate in the take-away liquor market [in Queensland]”Says Jones. “The alternative is a hotel license which obviously requires you to have a proper hotel.”

Michael Nolan, owner of Wine Experience, added a bar 18 months ago after 16 years of running a retail wine shop in Rosalie.

“I fell in love with small bars in Spain and the rest of Europe – that really intimate setting – and I’ve always wanted to do something like that, but I’ve never wanted a full-time bar,” he says.

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Wine Experience’s tiny 12-seat bespoke bar is open Wednesday through Sunday at 3pm, with a couple of additional tables for drinkers or diners placed on the trail.

“For us, the bar was about building a community,” Nolan says. “People come in and we know them and build loyalty. It has certainly created a following: people come home from shopping or stop for an afternoon drink before going to the restaurant or the cinema. “

There are regular wine masterclasses and up to 50 glasses available at any one time, always featuring a couple of Queensland wines and some that “are a little esoteric or hard to come by,” Nolan says.

“And of course, you can grab any wine off the shelf and with a $ 30 service charge, drink it here. That’s a huge saving compared to the margin you would have to pay for the same bottle in a restaurant. “

At Albion’s Wineism, owner Ian Trinkle is a former sommelier, as are all the staff in his shop. Trinkle opened in December last year. A long tiled common table dominates the shop, used for tastings but also for the evening crowd that comes to eat and drink.

It is the one-on-one commitment that he appreciates the most.

“I’m surprised how adventurous people are now,” says Trinkle. “People really want the experience and talk about the wines. I can talk about tannic structures indefinitely, but it’s nice to be able to uncork a bottle and say, ‘Hey, let’s taste this and sit down and chat for a while’. “

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