Sommelier, consultant and writer Liinaa Berry is Star Wine List's ambassador in Melbourne and the person behind our wine guide to the city. Liinaa, who recently moved back to Melbourne after some time away, describes it as a city of diversity.
"Melbourne is proud of its food and wine scene. It is a city of diversity and as we love with Australia, it can re-interpret so many cuisines whilst working with incredible Australian cuisines. The diversity of the wine offering goes hand in hand," she says.
"Melbourne has always been a buzzing city. Given it went through the longest lockdown in Australia, you would expect a slow comeback, but it hasn't succumbed; it has emerged stronger. There are now more people moving back to the state and the city. Many great restaurants are hiring as they are getting busier."
After eight years of working in hospitality in Melbourne, Liinaa Berry went back to her home in Mauritius and started working as a commis sommelier at a five-star resort in 2013.
In 2015 she went back to Australia and Adelaide, where she curated the 2000-bottle wine list for The Crafers Hotel, which won Best Hotel List in the country and third best in Australia in 2018 by Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year. She then moved on for some other high-end sommelier adventures – but now she is back in Melbourne again.
"I am over the moon to be back in Melbourne. This was my city from 2006-2013. At the time, I wasn't even working in wine but in hospitality. Being back with an exciting project in tow and experiencing Melbourne with a new lens is something I am thrilled about."
She says that the rebuilding of the wine scene after Covid is amazing to see, and that the vibe in the city is stronger than ever.
"The people are more resilient, more equipped in the face of adversity with a strong bond within the hospitality sector, having survived together and helped each other out."
More venues are also opening in the suburbs rather than in the Central Business District
Any specific trends right now?
"People are into the narrative, the produce and provenance. Menus are described with farmers' names next to the ingredient with strong reflection on the business ethos, where they source their produce, and the consciousness they have towards supporting smaller regional and local producers. More venues are also opening in the suburbs rather than in the Central Business District. People can enjoy world-class restaurants with a short commute from where they live."
"Non-alcoholic drinks and urban distilleries are also on the rise. Finding complexity in non-alcoholic drinks and connecting people with a new approach of enjoying gastronomy without the necessity of alcohol. We see urban distilleries working with gin and making vermouth using Australian botanicals, and we see more and more of other spirits as well, such as whiskeys that are made in Australia."
Anything you would like to see more of?
"More great wines in corporate places, more wine education to people with disposable income, who actually can very well afford to drink better but don't as they may lack the confidence to spend more since they might not know so much about wine. More wine parties where this education can happen. More people drinking better wines, really."
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