Alcohol is a part of the Australian lifestyle for many. It is common to have wine with dinner or a drink when out. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years or older. And you must be 18 years or older to buy wine and spirits, too. Wine and beer are the two most popular alcoholic drinks in Australia, and they are both produced locally, but imports are available as well. Sydney is a diverse city and it’s good to keep in mind some people do not drink at all.
This can be for religious, cultural or health reasons.You can only buy alcohol at bottle shops, wine clubs and wineries that are licensed under the Australian Liquor Act. Bottle shops are located everywhere and are often attached to pubs. They are required by law to close by midnight even if the pub continues to trade. If you are out and about, many restaurants are licensed and have a range of wines. Sometimes other types of alcoholic drinks are available, too. Bars and clubs have a wide selection of drinks to choose from including, in most venues, cocktails.
BYO – Bring Your Own – is a term used in Australia for restaurants that allow you to bring your own wine or beer. When you look up a restaurant listing, it will say BYO, or BYO wine only. This means you can bring your wine with you and the restaurant will charge low per head fee for the privilege. It works out much cheaper than buying wine in the restaurant where they mark the prices up considerably.
With over 60 wine regions and a healthy wine industry, Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine worldwide. Australian wines are of a high standard and are much better value and quality than a lot of imports. Expect to pay around $20 for a decent bottle of wine. If you are not sure what to drink, ask your local bottle shop operator. They are usually very helpful and can tell you what wines are worth trying, which will depend on the year, region, what types of wines you like and the meal you’ll be drinking it with. The chain bottle shops BWS, Liquorland and Dan Murphy’s all have friendly, helpful staff.
- BWS http://www.beerwinespirits.com.au
- Liquorland http://www.liquorland.com.au
- Dan Murphy’s http://www.danmurphys.com.au
For a wider range of global wines, it is best to visit one of the more specialised wine shops. These include:
- North Sydney Cellars, 189 Miller St, North Sydney NSW 2060 http://www.northsydneycellars.com
- Corkscrew Cellars 93 O’Sullivan Road Rose Bay NSW 2029 http://www.corkscrewcellars.com.au
Many Australians are members of wine clubs where a mixed case of wines is periodically delivered to your doorstep. Some of these include:
A great day trip from Sydney is to the Hunter Valley Wine Region, which 1.5 hours north of Sydney where several of Australia’s largest wineries, as well as several boutique wineries, can be visited for tastings. The area is really pleasant and also is home to several cheese, chocolate and other gourmet produce outlets. You can purchase wines direct from the wine makers, many of which are not available in bottle shops.
A visit to the area needs to include:
- Bimbadgen Estate: 790 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320 http://www.bimbadgen.com.au
- Lindemans Estate: McDonalds Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320 http://www.lindemans.com
- McGuigan Cellars: 447 McDonalds Road Pokolbin NSW 2320 http://www.mcguiganwines.com.au
Or simply take a wine tour: http://www.boutiquewinetours.com.au
June/ July is normally food and wine month in the Hunter Valley, and there are many operas and jazz events in the vineyards all year around.
There are many local beers in Australia and a good mix of local and international beers are available. Some big brand beers include Tooheys, VB and Carlton. Boutique beers include Blue Tongue, Pure Blonde, Little Creatures and Coopers.
These boutique beers are brewed in various locations in Australia, the Blue Tongue Brewery is in the Hunter Valley and well worth a visit.
A popular beer drinking location is any of the Belgian Beer Cafes, which are restaurant/bar combinations that sell many different types of beers. There are several in Sydney and they are located at:
- 429 Miller Street, Cammeray (Near North Sydney)
- 135 Harrington Street, The Rocks (Central Sydney)
- 82 Darling Street, Balmain East (Inner West
Most international spirits are available in bottle shops, pubs and clubs. Australia only has one famous home brewed spirit and that is Bundaberg Rum which is distilled in Queensland.
Australian Wine (government site) http://www.wineaustralia.net.au