Punk wine, anyone?
I would have to admit that when I came across this term I was at a loss. I have heard of it from three people, to be exact, and despite some bit of explanation, I failed to grasp what the whole affair is about. I had this impression that it is some new varietal, perhaps with a radically different method or winemaking ingredient. I actually pictured a wine bottle with spiky hair, a lot of eyeliner and blings thrown in for good measure. Of course, it was entirely different. A friend has helpfully pointed out the idea of punk beer and that punk wine is supposedly along that line. So I have another concept to figure out: punk beer or craft beer for some. Great.
The key idea out of all this - it turned out - is punk. That term emerged the radical form of music of the same label. It assumed an entirely wider meaning through the years. It is now considered a subculture and a movement, typified by antiestablishment views and single-minded pursuit for freedom. Quite a mouthful if you contextualized it with wine consumption, no? But it is quite simple, really. It is like approaching wine in such a way that goes beyond or against the snobbery and the elitist perception. Wouldn’t it qualify as an antiestablishment or a counterculture movement?
Consider, for instance, a pub selling draft beer, offering them straight from the barrels. There are even establishments that make their own brew as opposed to sourcing them from mainstream breweries. BrewDog's string of bars across the UK is a case in point. This small firm is quite successful, supported no doubt by the current enthusiasm for everything local. This concept is what they call as punk beer. And there are those who advocate for the same in wine. The concept would supposedly bring wine to the masses. Andrew Shernoff went as far as pushing forward the so-called punk sommelier manifesto, which stressed that, "wine should be discussed in a language anybody can understand and wine should be affordable."
I would like to point you to some establishments that embody the punk wine concept or an aspect of it. Along Pacific Avenue in San Francisco is cavernous wine bar that goes by the name of Barrique. This gem allows its customers to drink direct from the cask. Wine is ordered not according to winery, label, brand or reputation but according to varietal, vintage and appellation. The wines are sourced from small producers and the barrels offered are all unmarked. Everything here is affordable and reasonable. Another interesting outfit is this Vintner's Cellar Winery of Yorktown. This place allows to clients make their own wine. Depending on the client's wishes, the product could be personalized or fermented according to a varietal menu they have chosen.
The "punk" idea is interesting but the idea is yet to gain traction. A lot of resources are needed to set up this kind of business. A wine bar, for instance, would need its own vineyard in order to directly offer cheap and quality wine in huge quantities or allow a customization as in the case of Vintner's Cellar Winery of Yorktown.