Humphrey’s Hotel in Hurstville is located 20 minutes from Sydney’s CBD in the suburbs, but that hasn’t stopped Public House Management Group (PHMG) bringing a city-level of quality to its F&B offer. Wine plays a big part in that, with the category that can sometimes be overlooked in pubs taking centre stage at the venue.

Sommelier Theo Nguyen (ex-Sokyo) leads the wine program at the pub and its restaurant Hatch, which includes a 250-strong wine list, as well as a wine library of reds used as a display centrepiece within the hotel (pictured).

Coming from a restaurant background, Nguyen concedes that wine doesn’t normally have the same emphasis on a pub drinks list as beer or spirits, and explains why it’s such a big focus at Humphrey’s Hotel.

“I think the reason why pub culture has ‘neglected’ wine is because of the amount of information and knowledge pertaining to wine. Wines are usually on the list of alcohol selections at a pub, but more often than not the guest doesn’t have the option or intention to analyse the different characteristics of wine. It’s just something simple to drink to go along with the food.

“As we are putting more emphasis on the food and making it more premium compared to regular pubs, we believe the wine should reflect that too. Great food needs to be matched with great wine.”

As daunting as wine can seem, Nguyen is a big advocate for the philosophy that there’s a wine for everyone.

“Wine can be a very intimidating and daunting thing to navigate, and more often than not, guests at Humphrey’s Hotel won’t be seasoned wine enthusiasts. 

“That is why for us it is important to have a knowledgeable and passionate team that is comfortable with giving recommendations to guests based on their likes and dislikes. For example, if we have someone who only drinks sweet cocktails and light drinks visit us, then we have a fruity, light, and approachable wine that may be off-dry like a Riesling for them to try. We want to have options that will invigorate the same passions we have for wine,” Nguyen explains.

The wine list at Humphrey’s has something for everyone, regardless of knowledge, taste or budget. The public bar portion of the venue has its own simplified wine list that offers entry-level wines. The more comprehensive Hatch wine list will be available to all guests at the pub.

“We expect there to be a market for mid-range wines with the occasional desire for a premium offering. If a guest shows some hesitation, then this is the perfect opportunity to offer something new and delicious based on their likes or dislikes such as trying the premium Shiraz which may be a few more dollars a glass, but it could give the guest their first experience in trying a more powerful, flavoured, and structured red,” stated the sommelier.

While all the classic varietals are most popular at the pub, with it’s inner-city offering Nguyen expects the venue to sell some less traditional wines as well.

“I am excited about the wines that are usually seen on lists across the city, such as a cool climate Shiraz, natural wines that are approachable, and affordable European varietals.”

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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