On March 2 at the Botanical, international wine luminaries Tim Atkin and Aline Baly will have their palates tested as four of Australia's top sommeliers match wines to Lionel Abello's dishes during the Battle of the Sommeliers dinner. The wine-happy quartet took time out to chat favourites, guilty pleasures and death bed drops.
Sommelier at Print Hall in Perth
The most surprising food and wine pairing ever experienced? Cedric Bouchard with live, kicking shrimp at Noma a few years back. It took a very fine champagne to make that work.
Favourite Friday night tipple? I've worked every Friday night for as long as I can remember. So I'd have to say I most enjoy the tiny tasters of the bottles we open for our guests at Print Hall. I get a special kick out good riesling and nebbiolo.
The most expensive bottle of wine you've ever drunk? I saved up and bought a 1990 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo when I was living in London, drunk with my now-wife on Valentine's Day watching [the movie] Love Actually. It was worth every penny.
Death-bed drink request? What the hell - 1978 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux Magnum.
Sommelier at the Botanical in Melbourne
Favourite Friday night tipple? Colonial Kolsch beer, from a fantastic craft brewery in Margaret River. Justin Fox is the head brewer and I am a fan of everything he does.
Most expensive wine ever drunk? I once had to check a ''flight'' of multiple vintages of Petrus for a function we held here: total value was around $30,000.
Average consumption for the week? Embarrassing …
Guilty drinking pleasure? It would be a fight between negronis and manhattans.
Dream wine purchase? I purchased a bottle of 1996 Salon champagne on receiving the news of my partner's pregnancy with our daughter, a dream come true.
Sommelier at Rockpool in Melbourne
The most surprising food and wine pairing ever experienced? Lobster and an elegant pinot noir. It is essential to have pinot noir with very fine, graceful tannins and crisp red fruit characters to create a great foil for the richly textured lobster.
Your favourite Friday night tipple? Favourites are always so difficult. Few things close a week like a gin and tonic, or a beer, or a negroni, or a …
Most expensive wine ever drunk? I have been fortunate to try many rare and elusive wines. When a bottle like 1929 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Les Gaudichots, 1929 Chateau Margaux, or 1945 Chateau Lafite survives its journey through time and space to deliver a pure expression of vineyards from another time, it is truly priceless.
Dream wine purchase? There is always something special about a big bottle - I have had dreams of a 3-litre bottle of Giacomo Conterno Monfortino 2006 Barolo.
Sommelier at Aria in Sydney
The most surprising food and wine pairing ever experienced? Sake is under-rated with savoury dishes. Mukai Shuzo Ine Mankai (red rice) sake from Kyoto with roasted octopus, jamon, potato and Espelette pepper: it's the perfect combination between sweet and savoury as the sake keeps the palate fresh but does not overpower the dish.
Your favourite Friday night tipple? Zesty riesling from Crawford River in Henty or for summer, the 2013 Harkham Aziza's Rosé´ from the Hunter, and Stone and Wood's Pacific Ale for a thirst-quenching beer.
Most expensive wine ever drunk? 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti.
Guilty drinking pleasure? Negroni.
Death-bed drink request? Champagne - 1995 Krug Clos d'Ambonnay.