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What The Heck Is Going On Here?

8 December 2012

Although many of my posts touch on the reasons why I gravitate towards the unusual and the obscure, I realize I’ve never distilled (if you will) the purpose of this blog in a single, concise post. So:

Why am I making such a fuss over the unusual and the obscure? I touched on the most practical reason in this post: Value. As wine writer Lettie Teague noted in a recent column for The Wall Street Journal, “The obscure and the uncurated will almost always cost less than the well known and well placed. If you don’t know what a wine is, you’re unlikely to pay a high price for it.”

I am constantly in search of good wine values, and most of the wines I describe on this site pack a lot of flavor for the price. Like most people, I’m on a budget, and usually I want tasty wines that cost $15 or less. But it can be daunting to weed through the huge array of inexpensive unusual wines. It’s my goal to single out the wines that are not merely unusual, but unusual and delicious. Because it can be difficult to find a specific wine if you’re not shopping in exactly the same stores I am, I try to highlight entire regions and wine varieties to watch out for whenever possible.

As important as price is to me, there is another reason much dearer to my heart: Sticking up for the little guy. By definition, most of the wines and spirits I write about are made by small producers without big marketing budgets. For just about all these winemakers and distillers, I suspect their work is a labor of love, and I like to think that’s something you can taste. Most of us would surely much rather drink something made with real heart than something concocted in a lab, but too often, we’re afraid to leave our comfort zones and try something new. Drink fearlessly, my friends! You’ll discover some incredible stuff, and you’ll be helping small businesses.

You’ll also strike a blow against flavor homogenization, helping ensure that the vast world of wine and spirits available to us today continues to be gloriously, wonderfully diverse. And what fun it is, at least for me, to learn about all these fascinating little nooks and crannies which are making tasty wines and spirits. Taste and smell are two of our most powerful senses, and every now and then, a drink transports me right back to its home, or even back in time. Bottles of something unusual and obscure almost always come with a great story.

Some of you may also be wondering: Why wines and spirits? Most blogs focus on either just wine or just spirits/cocktails. That keeps things nice and tidy, but that’s not how most people I know drink. To be sure, there are some of us who only drink one type of alcohol, but if you’re like me, sometimes you want some wine, sometimes you want a cocktail, and sometimes you want a beer. (I don’t write about beer, because, well, I had to draw the line somewhere.) I see no reason to deny ourselves the pleasure of mixing it up, and I want this blog to be somewhere you can go whenever you’re in the mood to taste something new and different.

So as you’re doing your shopping, consider picking up something unusual and obscure to bring to that holiday party or give your friends as a Christmas present. (My top gift picks are listed here.) Seek out a bottle of cheer with a story, crafted with love, rather than just another bottle of booze made in a factory.

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