"The only thing you need to know about wine is if you like it or not."
Wise words of Miles Lazic, owner of a new boutique wine cellar in Castle Hill called Empty Glass.
"I've been a wine lover my whole life," he said.
"I grew up around it in Eastern Europe and my dad used to make his own brandy from wine."
Mr Lazic opened the online store Empty Glass two years ago, but saw the opportunity to provide The Hills residents "with great quality wines" that are not commercially available.
He opened the cellar on Old Northern Road in February and now stocks about 350 boutique wines and offers wine tasting every day.
"We're local and we're all about giving small wineries a go and representing people who share our values," the Castle Hill resident said.
"I try every wine before it goes on the shelves and I don't sell it if I don't believe in it."
Mr Lazic shares a passion for wine and good food with wife and business partner Diana.
Together they run the cellar and Empty Lane, a cosy mezze bar right next door that serves Hunter Valley cheeses, Byron Bay cold cuts and delicate pates by Steph's Gourmet Foods, produced in Kellyville.
"When you put good food and good wine together it brings people together," Mr Lazic said.
"We have a really mixed demographic and everybody enjoys themselves because it is a chilled and chatty atmosphere."
Empty Lane is BYO wine and beer/cider (no spirits). Bookings are recommended.
Empty Glass is on 270c Old Northern Road Castle Hill.
Top 3 boutique wines
■ La Belle Mere: A Charles Melton GSM (blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre) from 2011. A spicy, sweet perfumed red that warms the palate with its complex berry flavours. Produced in Barossa Valley, South Australia.
■ Kilikanoon Blocks Road Cabernet Sauvignon from 2010: Intensely fruit-driven with flavours of berries and violet and a velvety long finish. Produced in Clare Valley, South Australia.
■ Lawson's Dry Hills Riesling 2012: An elegant drop with floral aromatics, lemon and rich stone fruit flavours with a lovely texture. Produced in Marlborough, New Zealand.
* Suggestions by Miles Lazic, from Castle Hill cellar Empty Glass.