When I worked in London's Square Mile, one of my favourite lunchtime indulgences involved slipping into a nearby wine bar for a glass or two of red and some charcuterie or cheese from a pared-back bar menu. So it was with a real sense of delight that I stepped into Grape Therapy Wine Merchants and Drinking Den on the fringe of Brisbane's CBD one weekday evening.
The name of this sleeker than sleek wine bar says it all really. Ahhh, Grape Therapy. Cheaper than psychotherapy, more fun than cognitive behavioural therapy, easier on the eye than art therapy and sweeter on the nose than aromatherapy. Owner of the establishment Darren Davis said the bar was inspired by classic wine bars in London and Lake Como, Italy. 'I made the very strong decision to be an old school wine bar, not a cocktail bar,' he explains.
Oozing classic style. Grape Therapy image.
Just like the most atmospheric London wine bars, Grape Therapy is situated in a roomy basement, with only the subtlest of signage out front. It has Brisbane's largest collection of premium, well cellared, older Australian wines and, because all wine is sold at retail pricing, customers are encouraged to settle back into one of the luxurious leather Chesterfield lounges and savour a higher value tipple. 'We only add $20 to drink in, whereas standard wine bars and restaurant lists are double retail price,' Davis says. A range of quality spirits is also on offer.
Food-wise, platters of cold meats and cheese are available inhouse. But if you're looking for something more substantial, then you could (as we did) order crispy-based pizzas from Ciccio's Pasta Bar upstairs to enjoy at one of the wooden communal tables that seem custom-built for conversation.
Sink into the sofa and tell me all your problems. Grape Therapy image.