North Sydney is in dire need of good wine bars and an unexpected saviour has come in the form of a bottle shop that turned a corner of its floor space into a mini restaurant and bar.
I’m not entirely sure which of its three names I ought to use, however. The store is North Sydney Cellars but the street sign says Drink Better Wine and the bar inside is called The Oasi. Regardless, it’s located on the bottom of an office building on Miller Street, the ambiance here is … well, let’s call it functional. The inside area is filled with tables and has a bright, café feel while the outside section has slightly more of a bar atmosphere to it at night. However, there’s a good buzz thanks to the customers (most of whom are office workers although there seems to be a few locals), the service is friendly and most importantly the selection of wine is outstanding.
I’m here with a North Shore native who insists on calling herself Our Lady of the North and we’ve just come from having cocktails at the Union Hotel. It’s past 9pm on a Friday and North Sydney is beginning to empty, but there’s still a lively crowd at Drink Better Wine.
We grab two glasses of the 2006 Clos Clare Grenache, which turns out to be the best wine I’ve had in a bar for a long time. The aroma is sweet and full while the flavour is fruity with berry overtones. I make a note to myself to come back at some point and buy a bottle.
We also grab a cheese plate with Manchego (a Spanish cheese made from sheep milk), Roquefort and Brie, all of which is served with dried grapes and apple slices. All three of our cheeses are gorgeous and I especially recommend the Manchego, which has a gentle, creamy flavour. Those after heartier fare can also order meals such as pasta, a mushroom risotto, various paninis and a twice-baked Gruyere soufflé.
Unable to stop at just one glass, I finish off with a glass of the 2006 Massena “Howling Dog” Durif, which has a strong, bold spicy taste and leaves a velvety smooth feel in the mouth. If you like shiraz then I suggest giving this a shot.
If you’re after a seductively atmospheric bar then this isn’t it – but if you feel like some great wine then you can’t go wrong here. Furthermore, you can also order wine in 60ml tasting cups (ranging in price from $4 to $45) if you don’t want to commit to a whole glass or, heaven forbid, a bottle.
Drink Better Wine, 189 Miller Street (corner of Berry Street and opposite Historic Rag and Famish Pub), North Sydney. Phone 9954 0090 or see the Drink Better Wine website. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Sundays and Mondays closed from 4pm.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Drink Better Wine / Oasi?