Canberrans have a right to be proud. The territory and surrounding region has blossomed into a sought after destination for artisan produce like olives, cured meats, chocolates and not to mention wine. We are all foodies at heart, and the Canberra Wine House pulls on the heart strings.
As the wind whistles outside, cars stream down Northbourne and frost forms on anything that’s stationary for long enough, there is something very comforting about sitting beside a crackling fire with a glass of wine and a wooden board overflowing with an abundance of delicious local produce. It is a guaranteed way to forget about chilly Canberra winters and a seamless showcase of all that the Canberra region has to offer.
The Canberra Wine House is Dickson’s best-kept secret, tucked inside the rabbit warren of The Tradies club but with a life and style all of its own. Reminiscent of a New York speakeasy, the chequered tile flooring, brown leather armchairs and colourful stained-glass hanging pendant lights imbue the cosy bar with all the mystique and curiosity that a speakeasy is all about.
The beverage selection is not encyclopaedic in length – but that’s not what they’re about. Every drop on the menu is sourced from a Canberra and surrounding region producer and is designed to showcase the talent and variety of the area. Helm Wine’s Classic Riesling, Nick O’Leary’s Shiraz, and Bentspoke’s Barley Griffin can are typical of what you’ll discover on the list.
In regards to food, the Canberra Wine House is devoted to the meal of the day that’s all about unwinding and feeding the soul – that time in the afternoon when it’s too early for dinner but wine and moreish nibbles are all you need. Dishes of olives, plates of dips and platters of cheeses define the food selection.
The Ploughman’s Board is a fuss-free style of grazing, where everyone can mix and match flavour combinations. Overflowing from wooden boards are clusters of nuts, ramekins of relish, slices of smoked and cured meats, and of course thick wedges of cheese that might not make it to a cracker before its munched.
Canberra Wine House Manager, Brysson, can pour your wine, or slice your sourdough while simultaneously telling you anecdotes about the producer of the cheddar she has just sliced for your platter. Her passion and knowledge of the region is remarkable, and her symbiotic relationship with her suppliers is evident in the way she loves sharing their stories.
There’s no middle-man in the business, Brysson herself loves wandering around the farmers markets to catch up with her suppliers and keep an eye out for any new and interesting producers on the scene. The Ploughman’s Board is made up of smoked meats from Poachers Pantry, cheddar cheese from the Hunter Valley (seemingly afar but one of the closest producers of cheese!), and olives from Homeleigh Grove just to drop a few names.
If cheese is what you’re all about then you will not be disappointed. Small, medium or large cheese boards are completely customisable with the option of different varieties, and all served with handmade preserves from Long Track Pantry and seasonal fruits.
The smoked trout pate plate is also a treat. A seemingly simple platter, the deep flavours of the pate are far from that. It has a complex smoky flavour, that is meaty and herby. A generous lashing pairs well with the robust sourdough.
It is nice to finish off the meal with a burst of rich sweetness and the Canberra Wine House is one step ahead. Its sweet board features a cluster of Jasper and Myrtle Chocolate squares, a selection of fresh seasonal fruit and dense bites of Fudgemental fudge.
Being wine experts, the platters are best enjoyed with a drop of local wine. The platters are built to match a variety of wines and are not just suited to reds. The versatility of ingredients allows them to match a variety of wine options. With a number of wines to choose from, there is something to suit every taste. If you don’t know where to start, try the Collector Chardonnay. It has a beautiful weight and some complex flavours so it works well with both cheese and some of the meats. It goes particularly well with smoky flavours.
If red is more your style, perhaps try the Ravensworth Sangiovese. It is smooth and lush with berry characteristics. It is well balanced, which allows it to go with a variety of foods.
In the way of bubbles, the Lark Hill Roxanne is the one to go for. It has a subtle sweetness and soft bubbles that pair it perfectly with the smoked trout pate, or even the chocolate to round off the meal.
The Canberra Wine House offers more than just elaborate and sumptuous afternoons of wine and cheese in a relaxed environment. Many products that feature on the platters are available to purchase, while wine makers and producers often drop in to chat about their wines or produce. There are also special events, like flower-making workshops, that are frequently on the schedule.
Canberra’s fervour for quality artisan produce comes together in one neat bundle at Canberra Wine House, and what better way to support it than a cheese platter and glass of wine by the fire.