What exactly is a cult wine?

By / Magazine / April 12th, 2018 / 8

As if all the images the word “cult” conjures weren’t twisted enough, its association to wine has a definition that’s duller than an old-timey corkscrew. At first blush, you might think cult wine juice is pressed at some compound in Texas, especially when most of wine made in the Lone Star State (yes, they make wine there) can be considered cult. Confused yet? Let’s take a step back.

If you Google the word cult, one of the less sanctimonious descriptions is “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.” That characterization is usually applied to people who adore things like movies or recordings which are so bad they’re good. Who doesn’t have a friend who’s only one lonely night away from starting a Facebook fan page dedicated to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Room or just about any Kiss album post-Destroyer?

When it comes to wine, cult takes on the opposite connotation with the distinction attached to those wines that, while exceling in quality, are only made in small amounts. So rather than them being so crap they’re cool, they’re celebrated for their uniqueness and collectability.

Trouble is, with cult comes cost (to you). That means any bottle hip enough for the nickname will automatically have a higher price tag hanging around its neck. Everyone wants in on that action, so the market is knee-deep in limited editions and/or only sold from a winery’s cellar door type wines.

Small Canadian boutique (a kinder, gentler term for cult) wineries have certainly drunk the Kool-Aid. With production typically too tiny to make selling to provincial monopolies worth the paperwork, getting them into your glass takes some effort. When you can get a bottle, the less fortunate of your geeky friends will see red (or white or rosé) which is at the root of why cult wines have become so popular.

Browse all of Rockwell’s insightful answers here.

Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on Alliant.net to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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