What is it about wine that's so intimidating? Most of us have no trouble picking out clothes or food, but we freeze up when faced with a choice between different varietals, vintages, styles, wineries and regions.

Okay, we get it. There's a lot to learn. But that's also part of the appeal. In the big world of wine, there's always something new to explore, no matter how experienced you are. And it's only as snobby or pretentious as you make it.

These shops are the place to start your journey, or fulfil your existing passion. All are staffed by keen drinkers ready to share their knowledge, and most let you sample the goods right there. Leave your discomfort at the door and ask lots of questions. Chances are, you'll go home with the right bottle(s) for you.

Related pages:
Best Wine Bars in Melbourne
Best Beer Shops in Melbourne

Prince Wine Store

A strong contender for best wine store in Australia.

177 Bank Street, South Melbourne

Cloudwine Cellars

Finds and stocks small producers right before they take off.

317 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne

European Wine Store

Cloudwine's companion store is all about lesser-known European producers.

2 Wynyard Street, South Melbourne

Blackhearts & Sparrows

Eight stores and counting.

113-115 Scotchmer Street, Fitzroy North

The Valley Cellar Door

A sommelier, 230 wines and a licence to drink-in or take away. Magic.

18 18-20 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds

Act of Wine

This electric pink and hazy gold bottle shop has shelves lined with punchy Australian pet-nats, lemon meringue sour beers, and low-alcohol sparkling wine – just like the Southbank original.

Shop 2 73-77 Wellington Street, Collingwood

Mr West

Smashable sauvignon blanc, ciders from Spain and Jamaican pineapple gin are all on the menu at this relaxed bar.

106 Nicholson Street, Footscray

Magnum + Queens

700 bottles of wine selected in part by a former sommelier. You're in good hands.

2 274-278 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Nicks Wine Merchants

Stocks more than 20 vintages of Penfolds Grange, plus 2000 other wines.

10-12 Jackson Court, East Doncaster

The Alps

Where terroir and transparent winemaking matter more than anything else.

64 Commercial Road, Prahran

The Moon

A wine bar and shop from the guys behind The Alps and Toorak Cellars.

28 Stanley Street, Collingwood

Punchin' Bottles

This wine shop by Embla’s Christian McCabe, winemaker Patrick Sullivan and importer Eric Narioo stocks interesting (and at times eccentric) small-batch and responsibly produced drops.

124 Russell Street, Melbourne

Toorak Cellars

Stop in for a single glass selected from the blackboard, then take a bottle home.

18 Beatty Avenue, Armadale

Penny Young

Reps less-common varietals such as Georgian saperavi and Italian nero d'avola.

22 Young Street, Moonee Ponds

Samuel Pepys

Step in for 400 wines from small, biodynamic and low-intervention producers.

96 High St, Northcote

Cult of the Vine

One of the most focused wine selections in town.

7 Florence Street, Brunswick

Barkley Johnson

It's everything – a cafe, deli, wine bar and damn good bottle-o.

11 Anderson Street, Yarraville

Atlas Vinifera

Twenty-four wines to drink in-house and 400 to take home.

274 Church Street, Richmond

Seddon Wine Store

A comfortable, lived-in wine bar with 500 bottles to take home or drink in.

2/101 Victoria Street, Seddon

Union Wine Store

Venue number two from the knowledgeable couple behind Seddon Wine Store.

211 Union Road, Ascot Vale

Hudsons Road Wine and Beer

Two hundred wines and beers, to drink in or take home.

2 88 Hudsons Road, Spotswood

Brunswick East Wine Store

Small but expertly curated.

472 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Harvest Wine & Liquor

A well-priced collection of local and international bottles.

207 High Street, Northcote

Milton Wine Shop

Heaps of orange and biodynamic wines and a "no snobbery" policy.

1427 Malvern Road, Malvern

Village Vineyard

A warm, communal bottle-o with 300 wines and 200 beers.

348 Queens Parade, Fitzroy North

City Wine Shop

European wines to quaff on site or at home.

159 Spring Street, Melbourne

Wine Republic

The name says it all. Find it in Fitzroy, Northcote and Windsor.

265 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Chapel Street Cellars

The only spot on this list with a vacuum-sealed Coravin system, for keeping its by-the-glass options fresh.

89 Chapel Street, Windsor

A Point of Difference Liquor

These stats are impressive: 850 beers, 350 wines, 500 spirits and 40 years in the business.

499 Whitehorse Road, Mitcham

Armadale Cellars

Wines to suit all budgets and palates.

813-817 High Street, Armadale

Rathdowne Cellars

A good place to find higher-end bottles from Australia and Europe.

348 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North

Small Patch

Take home, or drink in with a plate of cheese.

346 Burwood Road, Hawthorn

McCoppins Bottle Shops

Well-priced, crowd-pleasing wines in Abbotsford and Fitzroy.

165 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

Enoteca Sileno

The best place in Melbourne to find Italian wines.

920 Lygon Street, Carlton North