As themed bars go, it's a brilliantly simple idea. Don't just serve wine; educate the customers in wine appreciation while you're at it. That's the thinking behind Sydney's grandly named but actually very unstuffy Wine Odyssey Australia, WineOdyssey.com.au.
Housed in a late 19th century building in Sydney's historic Rocks district, Wine Odyssey offers a walk-through crash course in Australian wine. You stroll from room to room, sampling some of the country's best vintages and pairing them with great food. In the Aroma Room, your descriptive vocabulary will be expanded by an education in 50 kinds of scent, from caramel to orange blossom. In the Tasting Theatre (admission $45) sommeliers decant six top Australian bottlings in hourly tastings as the winemakers responsible for each one talk you through it in a video presentation (there's also a separate program of tastings with vintners in person). In the Wine Journey Room, you use a prepaid card to help yourself from an Enomatic rack holding 44 wines, available in tasting, half or full measures. There are also 200 wines available by the bottle, with great rarities among them.
A mouthwatering array of tapas is available to accompany the wines you choose. Go for one of the paired food-and-wine menus and kick back on the plush purple banquettes. If you fancy a souvenir, there are some great buys at the Wine Odyssey store, but best check your homeward duty-free allowances before you get too carried away.