A drink-in wine store in the best tradition of the genre, warm, welcoming and low on pretence, turning out plates of classic wine bar food paired with leftfield wine
The regular’s tip
Look for exclusive wine co-labs with local makers; plus, take advantage on the low corkage cost on magnums
The nuts & bolts
Opened in 2021
Max Walker and partner Georgia Hobbs moved from Sydney to Canberra with the intention of setting up their own bar, although they weren’t in any rush. Walker, whose CV includes LP’s Quality Meats in Chippendale and Movida Aqui in Melbourne, was working at Canberra dining destination Bar Rochford when COVID-19 swept across Australia in March 2020. The looming threat of lockdown-induced unemployment forced his hand, and Paranormal Wines was born.
“Georgia and I had spent some time in Paris and London in late 2018, and I loved the casual approach to great wine, food and service in these tiny ‘cave à mangers’ that were ostensibly bottle shops with a few add-ons, but with none of the pretensions of a restaurant,” Walker says. “We also wanted a business that could still operate in some capacity should another lockdown hit.”
In turn, Paranormal Wines functions as wine shop first, wine bar second, with everything on the menu available to go. The space, which opened in January 2021 under a new apartment building in residential Campbell, is all polished concrete and blonde-wood stools on one side, and 200-plus bottles of mostly lo-fi wines on the other.
There’s a constantly rotating list of ten wines by the glass and drink-in bottles are at takeaway prices, plus $15 corkage for bottles and $20 for magnums. Expect to see minimal intervention wines from Australian winemakers alongside leftfield international drops. “Drinking wine should be fun and exciting, not stressful,” Walker says, which means no bookings and no out-by rules.
The menu, which Walker describes as “antipasti without a chef”, skews towards the cured, tinned and on toast — think olives, cured meats and local cheeses, and Spanish anchovies, sardines and mussels.
Keep an eye out for some exclusive co-labs with Canberra region winemakers, too. Walker and the team at Malaluka put out the Paranormal Rosé earlier this year, and Bryan Martin from Ravensworth chipped in with the Paranormal Fizz, a cheeky piquette made with chardonnay and zibibbo skins.