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Funky Wine

Had a glass of Brutal Rouge, 2018 Matassa (in Carter’s of Moseley, classy restaurant), yesterday. Aptly named as it was the most farmyard-y wine I’ve ever smelt, though the taste was much more subtle.

Why do you find it a useful descriptor of cheese, whisky and condiments but lazy when used with wine? I don’t follow

A valid point Mr (or Ms) RB, I hope this explains my thinking better ?

With cheese etc “funk” to my mind means powerful “ferment / fungal flavours” which are deliberately encouraged. I have home fermented chillis in a jar in the fridge, and they undeniably have a taste of ‘funk’ in a good way. Its not subtle.

With wine however (to my mind anyway) “funk” does not seem a good thing - and would be a fault. EXCEPT in botrytis wines (Sauternes etc). Wheras “farmyardy” etc I understand, and can enjoy to a certain degree in Burgundy. I sort of expect wine reviews to be more nuanced and the word “funk” is too broad brush / imprecise?

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I discussed “farmyard” once on WLDG. Americans on the board thought it meant chicken poo (I’ve no idea what that smells of), while the farmyards I am familiar with smell more of sheep, cattle and pigs (and any chickens would be neck-high in mud and slurry). “Farmyard” might sound more specific than “funk”, but can mean different more-specific things to different people.

Arguably a similar descriptor to “farmyard” is “tropical fruit”. Try asking what that implies to an international group. The surprising answers I have seen included melon (is that really a tropical fruit?) and banana (if it smelled of banana I would be more specific). And people that live in warmer climes tend to be more specific about which fruit they mean rather than lumping them all together.

Then there is “oriental spice”…


Wonder what a tropical fruit farm yard smells like then? :wink:


Hmmm… I definitely would not use “funk” for botrytis, which to me is an extremely pleasant smell.


You’d have to ask a farmer of tropical fruit :grinning:


Goat shit… sorry for lowering the tone


Great topic…!!!

To me, “Funky” means exciting, modern, trendy etc… Yet I’m also aware that Americans use “funky” as a derogatory term… Funny, the differences, innit… :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

I suppose my best vinous example of what I would call funky would be the superb and affordable reds from the Costières de Nîmes, etc… :smiley:

I thought that was ‘smart’, a word wine critics are too fond of.

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I believe the dirty/smelly meaning is the oldest. Then it was aplied to a genre of music in a positive way, to indicate something earthy and soulful. Then I think the sense you describe came from the musical genre, and changed meaning yet again.

With wine, it seems that the original and modern meanings may have become conflated to characterise trendy and stinky natural wine.

That is how I see it anyway, though personally I care very little about the trendiness of natural wine, and would only use funky as a taste descriptor


BTW doesn’t the modern usage normally refer to a 1960s “vintage” vibe in modern design, something that would have been around with funk music?

Greetings SteveS… Yes indeed, I couldn’t agree more… Interesting to look up the etymology of the word “Funky” and you are, of course, absolutely correct… You’re also 100% accurate to recognise that my chosen interpretation of the word comes from being a big music lover - especially of 60s & 70s Soul music etc… Somehow, I just prefer to be an optimist and to see the word as a positive rather than a negative…

Not sure about about the design aspect when it comes to the use of funky, but I would not be even slightly surprised if that too was correct as it would certainly fit… :slight_smile:

I think funky wine means Weinert Tonel 111 Malbec 1994.

I assume this is probably the best thread to post this query on:-

I get an overwhelming smell of what I can only describe as a cross between the smell of vitamin B12, the film coating on tablets, and most predominantly, the smell of the hairdressers when we used to go and pick my mum up when I was about ten (early eighties). I’ve tried to narrow it down, and I think it’s to do with some ammonia compound, but really I haven’t a clue. Could be down to a native yeast, possibly because of shared winemaking techniques. I don’t know.

I get it predominantly from Burgundy(and in high incidence, maybe 20%+ of the time and in both red and white), but also from time-to-time (as I recall) Fronton and some Chilean wines.

I thought I was going insane, particularly after our WSET teacher (studying for MW at the time) would bring in another expensive bottle of Burgundy, and I would give the ‘smells like my mum’s hairdressers’ line. I’ve found that this doesn’t go down well with Burgundy lovers apparently! :grinning: I shouldn’t be smelling it. Which of course, I was.

So it was a welcome relief when about 18 months ago my other half, with no prompting from me, took a sniff of her glass of (ISTR) Roche de Bellene VV - and after having derided me for years for claiming wines had this smell when they didn’t - and said (imagine a screwed up face) ‘is that that smell you keep going on about??’ I don’t think she was expecting me to dance around the room! She thinks it related to some compound they use in hair dye treatments. Which would fit in.

I’ve only ever found one other person who has claimed to experience this particular aroma in a wine - and that was on an old internet forum post. So it’s possible this is a minority pursuit. But anybody any ideas as to what this is? (I’m reasonably confident it isn’t Brett, but I’m open to it’s possibility).

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I’ve certainly witnessed (red) Burgundy lovers announce with great delight that such & such a bottle smells like sh1t…!!! When to any “normal” human being, that same smell is anything but delightful…!!!

Can’t answer your question with any authority, but as you’ve almost suggested, brett is the first thing that springs to mind - just that maybe we all interpret brett differently from one another, perhaps…?

I suspect something similar, though the only fly, and it’s a massive one unfortunately, in that particular ointment is that I experience it so readily in Burgundy and much, much less elsewhere.

Now, I realise that Burgundy is the Dominic Cummings of vineyards, in that anything it does wrong is the drinkers and not the drinks fault, but I drink plenty of what could be euphemistically described as ‘rustic wines’, and the number of incidents is far lower.

One thing I have considered is that with Pinot having less ‘heft’ that maybe it makes it more detectable to my olfactory glands? But beyond that, which seems a little bit of a stretch, is why I’ve started to focus on (and assume it may be) common winemaking techniques/methods/‘ingredients’.


I quite often detect a hot rubber odour on Pinot. Tennis shoe soles almost. Is this similar to what you experience?
I often think that this is a symptom of reduction.

ive noticed a similar smell too…not sure if reduction or specific phenols decomposing

@Alchemist…any chemical reason for this that you can think of ?

Just to be clear, I’m 99% sure it isn’t reduction - though the worst case I ever smelt of that was a Pinot from Sainsbury’s years ago. :smiley: