What the Funk (Newsletter #5)

Wine's most controversial word.

Hello! We’re back on newsletter schedule after a month of very busyyyy schedules! 

So, let’s talk about funk. Last week, my friend sent me an article she found that talked about “why we should stop using the word ‘funky’ to describe wine”. I was like what the funk??! I loveee funky wines. How else would we describe them? It’s a compliment.

People love to hate this word. It either makes you sound like a wine snob or it means you don’t like the wine. Or it means your fucking looooveeee the wine. Funk refers to certain taste and smell that catches you off guard. It could mean its a bit earthy, but also a little barnyard-y. Perhaps it reminds you of horses and leather (I call this, ‘cowboy boots’.) Sometimes it has some unexpected fizz or some other element that you weren’t expecting. Personally, I love funk. I like the adventurous bottles that send your imagination running, rather than telling you the most obvious version of what that wine should be.

But some people (like the person who wrote the article), think that funk is a bad thing. Or rather, a term used to mask flaws in a wine. 

They say that funky implies that something is flawed. Which might be true… Maybe a winemaker fucked up and instead of dumping the whole barrel they labeled it funky, hoping someone might appreciate it. I’m not here to judge. That’s the beauty of this whole thing— wines fall on a spectrum. The way some people prefer truffle flavor and others prefer sweet or salty. Diversity in flavor, color, shape, and smell are what makes a wine stand out from others. Putting defined terminology around characteristics that are subjective anyway is exactly why people thing wine/natural wine is gate kept. 

There is such thing as a flawed wine though. One way to describe a flawed wine is “mouse” or “mousey”, which refers to a serious flaw that occurs in the wine making process where a wine might come out tasting and smelling, well… like a mouse and cause it to be totally undrinkable. But mousey should NOT be confused with funky. 

But when done well, funk can be a symphony of unexpected notes that you would never imagine to be wine.

Not all natural wines are funky. 

Mousey does not mean funky. 

People who still have an issue with the word “funky”, should let go of their old school notions of wine... Stop hanging onto a negative connotation of the funky definition. Funky LITERALLY HAS THE WORD FUN IN IT. And wine is supposed to be fun.

Here is a funky wine I tried this month that I ABSOLUTELY love. The best way to describe it is: Cowboy Boots. It was like leather and tobacco swirling with a little bit of barnyard and violets in the background. I imagined a Mexican cowboy riding his horse at dusk through a field, smoking a cigarette. Grown and produced in Tecate, Mexico, this wine is gorgeously unique and if you find a bottle of it, I recommend buying it.

Have a good weekend, and let me know how funky you like your wine in the comments below! <3