Auckland’s best wine bars, where the vibe is impeccable (and so are the sides)
So you want a wine bar that’s chic, but also fun and lively, with a great drinks list and food to match? We’ve got you covered.
Every suburb needs a local like Bar Martin, an inviting wine bar tucked between Mt Albert and Western Springs
The jammed Three Lamps end of Ponsonby Rd was crying out for a wine bar like Annabel’s when it opened in 2017. Since then, Annabel’s has evolved into more than a wine bar, with a smart wine list by the glass and bottle, classic cocktails and aperitivo menu in the evening, and coffee, cake and sandwiches during the day. It is also an online wine shop. The interior features a deep blue leather banquette that floats around the bar, with floating bistro-style table tops and wooden stools to sit on. The outdoor tables are always in high demand, taking advantage of the midday sun and with space for a friend or 10. The wines are interesting (such as Black Estate Wildlife Riesling); boujie (think Perrier Jouet Grand Brut), and plentiful – you can order a pint of chilled Italian red if it’s such a night. Fill your side dishes with the aperitivo menu (available every day from 4pm) with olives, nuts and prosciutto, the chef’s menu (available from 5pm Wed-Sat) with oysters, baked potatoes and fritto misto or the charcuterie that always a good idea is a cheese board. Open Monday-Saturday. 277 Ponsonby Road, Auckland.
Just a few doors down from Annabel’s on Ponsonby Rd, Beau has gone from strength to strength since opening in 2020. Led by front-of-house manager Diva Giles and chef Logan Birch, and with a shared goal of inclusivity and whanaungatanga, Beau is consistently packed with happy customers. Beau blurs the line between wine bar and restaurant, with a great menu to suit both dinner and drinks plus snacks. Choose a table in the lovely indoor dining room, at a table in the front or in the surprising outdoor courtyard (we love how many wine bars have courtyards in Auckland). The menu is divided into small plates to start, such as charcuterie and French cheese, smoked ribs and oysters; raw and fresh dishes such as market fish crudo, tartare or heirloom tomatoes; and larger hot plates, such as mussels escabeche, sirloin steak, and grilled octopus. There are many interesting wines to sample at Beau and if you feel confused by the wine list, the staff are happy to help you choose a glass. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-late. 265 Ponsonby Road, Auckland.
This wine-bar-meets-bistro in Milford on Auckland’s north coast is run by a team that knows good food and wine. Manager Matt Aitchison is a local and trained sommelier from Milford whose wine knowledge has benefited some of Auckland’s best restaurants including The French Café, Masu and Cassia. Formerly Sous Chef at Viva’s Top 50 Auckland Restaurants Supreme Winner Mr Morris, Chef Jono Beattie has created a bistro-style menu of snacks and small and large plates, ideal for enjoying with a glass of wine. “Stanley Ave is pitched as a wine bar with food, but if you want to treat it like a restaurant, you won’t miss a thing,” says Eat Out editor Jesse Mulligan. “It’s a good idea if you live in the area, but, like The Engine Room, well worth crossing the bridge.” 52 East Coast Road, Milford, Auckland.
French neo-bistro Bar Celeste may be great for dinner (it’s been in the top 10 of Viva’s Top 50 Restaurants for two years in a row), but it’s also ideal for anyone wanting drinks, snacks and fun, with a changing wine and food menu that changes with the seasons. The atmosphere at this wine bar and restaurant on Karangahape Rd is warm and boisterous, and on Friday nights the space turns into a party atmosphere with DJs, smash burgers, oysters and specialty drinks flowing into the wee hours. The wine list highlights organic and natural wines from New Zealand and beyond, with a short selection by the glass and many available by the bottle. On a sunny early evening, try the outdoor tables for a cold glass of orange wine and we can almost guarantee you’ll stay for dinner. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. 146b Karangahape Rd.
From the team behind Vic Road Kitchen in Devonport, who create some of Auckland’s most delicious dishes, according to dining out editor Jesse Mulligan, comes Vic Road Wine Bar & Cellar, a European-style wine bar-meets-bottle shop in the cozy space which was once occupied by Thompson’s Shoes – a popular spot with the locals of Devonport for over 80 years. The team at Vic Road Kitchen has reused elements of the original shop, turning the shoe racks into wine storage and uncovering original stained glass windows and stonework. They’ve also created a cozy courtyard, ideal for sipping wine in the sun – look, charming! Not only does Vic Road Wine Bar offer a great list of wines by the glass (which changes regularly), but there are also 200 wines from New Zealand and abroad available to take home. The food is tapas style, with terrines and dips, cheese and charcuterie, olives, octopus and more, served by attentive staff who know a thing or two about wine. And if you’re looking for something more substantial, the excellent Vic Road Kitchen is just up the road. Open Tuesday-Sunday. 53-55 Victoria Road, Devonport.
If you’re in Hastings, Cellar 495 wine bar is a must, a vibrant yet elegant space that opened in 2022, designed by owner and wine master Michael Henley (the world’s 495th wine master, hence the name). He designed the bar as a wine shop and tasting room by day, and as a wine bar by night, with a menu of fine dishes such as Yabon sourdough with bone marrow butter and roasted garlic; small brioche toasts topped with Ortiz anchovies, salted yolk and chermoula; and crispy glazed pork belly on kūmara puree with puffed amaranth and apple. A great way to experience the food is the Trust the Chef option, a series of six dishes accompanied by wines hand-picked by Mike from Hawke’s Bay and beyond. Basement 495 is located in the Municipal Building, housing some of the city’s most important sites, including the Toitoi Opera House, Akina Gallery, Hastings I site, and Craft & Social. Tables at Cellar 495 open out onto an avenue that connects these venues, making it feel like a vibrant slice of Melbourne. Mike’s bar is the ideal place for a pre- and post-show drink, but with such good food it’s wise to stay longer. 319 Hastings St East, Hastings.
Located on Swan Lane in a courtyard off Cuba Street, Noble Rot was one of Wellington’s first wine bars when it opened in 2016, a city known for its great restaurants but lacking bars dedicated to wine until then. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal and while the wine list may seem intimidating (there are over 500 to choose from, 80 of them by the glass, making it one of New Zealand’s largest wine selections), the team of sommeliers from Noble Rot please pick a glass. It’s a varied and interesting list, available in 100ml and 150ml pours, plus a Corovin wine system that allows the team to serve premium wines at drinkable prices. To eat, there are many light bites that pair beautifully with wine (fromage, parfait, rillette, charcuterie, burrata), but you can also find main meals from dry-aged eye fillet to poached market fish with verjus beurre blanc. 6 Swan Lane, Te Aro, Wellington.
Located in the heart of wine country, in Blenheim, Scotch Wine bar and Shop is led by some of New Zealand’s best food and wine talents, such as Dan Gillet (Wine Diamonds) and Georgia van Prehn (Executive Chef at Alta in Auckland). In 2020 it entered a new chapter with new owner Jacob Anderson, but what hasn’t changed is the ever-changing list of rare and interesting wines (the bar has a cellar of around 2000 bottles) and a sharp multi-course tasting menu with beautifully presented to eat . The interior is also well thought out, with deep blue booths, brick walls, industrial concrete blocks and warm wooden tables. Scotch is known for its wine tasting events, so be sure to check out what’s on the agenda. Monday – Friday, 4pm – late. 26 Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
A relative newcomer to Christchurch’s thriving food and wine scene, Londo is a small bar with big ideas, offering natural wine, slick cocktails and inventive dishes prepared with heart and soul in a tiny kitchen. The team here cares about food, with spectacularly presented seasonal sharing dishes such as Milanese pork with endive; or stewed leeks with oyster mushrooms and a soft-boiled egg, and silky smooth truffle pasta, dreamed up by chef Bob Fairs (formerly head chef at Lyttelton’s now-closed Roots restaurant). Wine is also a focus, with some exciting New Zealand drops like Gisborne’s Libiamo Amphora Chenin Blanc and Melbourne’s A Thousand Gods Love Letters Pinot Noir, as well as a selection of low-intervention international wines. From the glassware to the fonts to the lighting, the Londo team paid attention to aesthetics and it all looks great. Open from 5 pm. Unit 6/2 Papnui Rd, Merivale, Christchurch.