By The Glass: Mark Reginato on Hot 100 Wines and Rundle St’s newest bar

Rockstar bartender, drinks distributor and Hot 100 Wines chief steward, Mark ‘Reggie’ Reginato joins By The Glass to chat about the mechanics of a wine competition, hospitality’s dark side and his brand new Rundle Street bar, Hellbound.

A regular feature of Adelaide’s hospitality scene, Reginato has been working bars, supplying wine and spirits and designing drink lists for years. He’s a busy man of late, working as Hot 100 Wines chief steward, running his distribution business and opening a brand new bar.

“What else do I do?,” Reginato asks By The Glass. “I don’t sleep, obviously.”

Reginato’s wine and spirits distribution business was born from his own enduring love for wine with a difference, a taste which has become the trend in recent years.

“They’re nine years old now,” Reginato says of his distribution businesses. “Connect Vines was the mother company, and that’s based on all local artisan craft wine producers in South Australia, Victoria and then the Iberian Peninsula, so I do Spain and Portugal.

“That was about creating a really clever and attractive portfolio for people that weren’t finding the right wines to put on their lists… Now it’s become traditional and fashionable and people like all the odd things.”

Reginato also gives some insight into the way a new-world wine competition like Hot 100 Wines works. Describing differences between the Hot 100 and a traditional wine competition, Reginato says the key is to keep the judges guessing as they blind-test thousands of different wines.

“They [the judges] walk into a room and it’s not progressional. They don’t go from sparkling to white to red, as you would normally do. They might walk in and go, ‘Oh, I didn’t know we were doing Rose at 8 o’clock in the morning,’ … It’s all about mixing it up to keep the mind creative, so they’re not used to what they’re about to see.”

Judging is an obviously crucial part of any competition, but Reginato says that the behind-the-scenes work of stewards is “the hidden secret” of something like the Hot 100, especially when more than 1500 wines need to be categorised and served to judges.

This episode of By The Glass delves deeper into the hospitality industry, as Ali Robertson quizzes Reginato on the dark side and dangers of excess within the local scene.

“You are on show, you’re trying to entertain, you’re trying to impress some people,” says Reginato of front-end hospitality work, particularly relating to the service of alcohol. “Sometimes you can get caught up with that, it’s a natural thing. Doing too much is when you start coming down a little bit too hard as well, and this can probably relate to people who take drugs as well, and that’s probably a more vicious circle.

“How do you keep the pace without going over the top? Good balance is always important. I mean I’m quite avidly going to the gym and being fit. That deters you from going too far sometimes, I think.”

Reginato is excited to get back on the front end of service as the co-owner of Rundle Street’s newest bar, Hellbound. Set to open on Valentine’s Day at 4pm, the Hellbound drink list will follow Reginato’s own taste with a distinct focus on wine.

“Hellbound is going to be a little wine bar,” he says. “201 Rundle Street, just next door to The Austral, downstairs in the basement underneath Kathmandu – solidly focussing on wines from all over the world. Everything from classic to contemporary to weird to wonderful to affordable. We’ve got a few rare unicorns that people won’t be able to find ever again… On the spirit side of things, everything is wine-focussed, so it has a touch of wine, or is wine-based or made by a winemaker.”

Theme music courtesy of Max Savage
Image by By The Glass
Recorded live at Mache
instagram.com/_bytheglass

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.