Category Archives: Natural Wine

When to use the #spitbucket

Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that I attend a number of regular events; Alestars at the Local Taphouse, any tasting by Sommeliers Australia and one that I talk about the most – #spitbucket.

cloudy bucket

#spitbuckets are regular wine dinners with ever changing subjects, fantastic guest hosts, some great wine, great food and great people which are live shared across social media, especially Twitter. They are the brain-child of Poppy Gresson (@poppygresson,) starting in 2011 as a promotion for Darling Harbour’s Coast Restaurant where she was General Manager. Poppy left Coast last year and set up her own event management company, Pop Events and reinvented #spitbucket.

Themes over the last nine months have included New South Wales wines, biodynamic wines, natural wine, sparkling wines and the Hunter Valley Wine Show trophy winners along with an incredible #whiskybucket. Around ten wines are supplied by social media savvy wineries each night and are always high quality and interesting. Wines are served in brackets of two or three usually similar styles or different vintages of the same wine.

champagne bucket

A number of venues are used with MuMu Grill in Crows Nest the most regular. Craig Macindoe at MuMu is certainly generous when it comes to food and expertly matches the courses with each brackets of wine. Fix St James is another regular venue and it goes without saying that the matches are spot on (oddly enough Stuart Knox from Fix has hosted a few #spitbuckets but never at Fix itself.) Great wines and food make #spitbucket excellent value for around $70.

It’s never a room full of people staring at their phones, the nights become pretty rowdy with plenty of interaction. The guest hosts are always knowledgable but have a lot of fun with it. Patrick Haddock recently hosted for an entire night in his Beer Spills, Wine Survivalist character. Winemakers who are not in the room interact with the attendees across social media, which adds a great twist to the event, answering question and often pushing to find out how their wine fared against the others.   

christmas bucket

Spectacular wines at the #christmasbucket sparkling wine event hosted by @poppygresson and @beerspills.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Bowell @jezzster

Poppy has a lot of events planned for 2014 including Summer of Riesling at Fix St James next week and #chardonnaybucket in early February. I’ve heard rumours of a #rumbucket which sounds a little dangerous. The dinners are limited to 24 guests and always sell out. Follow @pop_events on Twitter so that you don’t miss out.

#spitbuckets are a great example of how both drinking wine and social media are supposed to be fun. I’d heartily recommend them to anyone.

Where to Drink (Part 2)

Fix St James
111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 2000 – (02) 9232 2767

I try not to drink in the city but seem to find myself in Fix St James more than the rest of Sydney’s wine bars combined.  There are some great sommeliers in Sydney and owner Stuart Knox with his signature red shoes is easily the most fun to be around.   Fix is a bar and restaurant with some great food and a reputation for “natural” wines.  Stu has become the go-to man for this style of minimal intervention wine, although I get the feeling that a large number of these wines hit his list simply because they taste interesting and exciting, rather than conforming to any particular philosophy.  Most of the front of house team have been with Stu for a long time and share his passion for great “juice.”  They ask what you are looking for and are able to recommend the perfect wine after just a couple of descriptors.  There are a lot of wine events held at Fix during the year, the wine dinners are always great value.  If you love interesting wines, great food and great service and are in the city, I’d recommend Fix St James.

417 Crown St, Surry Hills, 2010 – (02) 9319 6609

As small bars go, Yulli’s in Surry Hills is one of the most comfortable.  It’s quite a surprise that a vegetarian restaurant has such a great line up of independent NSW beers but it’s great to see. They recently added an upstairs area which makes it much easier if you just want to sit and have a beer. In an interesting green initiative none of the products upstairs are bottled – there are 8 local draft beers along with draft NSW wine and local post mix soft drinks. It’s a great idea though I’m not too sure about the draft wine. Watch out as upstairs isn’t open every night which means that only four draft beers (along with lots of bottles) are available most weeknights and the more exciting (lower selling) beers don’t turnover as quickly as you would like. I’m not a vegetarian by a long shot but the food is also well worth searching out.

The Union Hotel
576 King Street, Newtown, 2042 – (02) 9557 2989

The Union is a rare beast in Sydney, a pub that has given almost all of it’s taps over to independent beers. I’ve been heading there for years now, it’s not too far from home and I’ve always enjoyed the food. They have been constantly but slowly improving the pub, first with a full refurb of the back bar into a very comfortable bistro area with a small beer garden, then introducing more and more good beers and recently new carpet in the front bar. I’ll always remember the week when smoking was banned in Sydney’s pubs. I walked into the front bar of the Union and all I could small was stale beer in the carpet instead of having smoke hiding the stench. They also installed a couple of English style handpumps for beer to serve real ales, mainly from the very local Young Henrys brewery. The bistro offers great value meals and the specials are restaurant quality, all washed down with great beer. Well worth visiting