Why Drink “Weird” Wine?

Why should you drink “weird” wine? If you’re even entertaining the question, we have a ways to go. But one step at a time. Let us start here.

Unique wines provide endless lessons. At their core, they  tell us about lands we’ve likely never visited, people we’ve never met and flavors we never suspected to show up in a glass of fermented juice. Foreign wine almost always come with a story, a tale of history, passion and culture. How can a curious mind overlook these stories, turn a head to this human experience?

More selfishly, weird wine tells us about ourselves. Tasting something new gives you a glimpse into your ever-evolving palate. Whether the wine can be counted among a new favorite or one you’d prefer not to revisit, you learned a thing or two about nuance. You discovered traits that turn you off and those that turn you on. You can applaud yourself for taking a chance and craving a new experience.

For people who dedicate their life to wine — be it as a collector, a winemaker, a devotee to the service industry — few evenings are more thrilling than those during which they uncork a bottle of the not yet tasted. Not a vintner I know doesn’t regularly sit down with new bottles to seek out a note they’ve never encountered. Similarly, no honest wine writer will stake a claim to knowing every flavor, deciphering every bouquet.

Indeed, even wine pros who devote 50 or 60 hours every week to the craft are perpetually exploring and discovering new bottles and unknown varietals. Just yesterday, in fact, I found myself — a self-professed newcomer to wine in the grand scheme — describing a varietal to a 20-year winemaker who has traveled the world. She’d never heard of it.

Do we all have our favorite bottles and preferred regions? Of course. But shame on the sipper who returns — week after week, year after year — to the same bottle or bottles from an established region. Knowing what you like is one thing, and certainly there are times when it’s a strength. But closing off possibilities in the world of wine is damn near sinister. It’s a yawn-worthy approach to life.

Weird wine sparks conversation. And so long as tasters are entering the dialogue with an open mind and quest for revelation, the discussion will lead to ponderings, musings and, on great days, answers.