The New Rules of Wine

2. BRING ON THE FUNK

Savvy wine drinkers know that “noble rot” (describing the botrytis fungus that can destroy crops or produce coveted dessert wines) or “barnyard” (animal or vegetal wine aromas, courtesy of the Brettanomyces yeast that can be a virtue or a fault) can actually be desirable qualities. Likewise, unfiltered or slightly oxidized wines — once worthy of being returned — today might be just what the winemaker intended. Though so-called low-intervention or natural wines can be wildly unpredictable from year to year or batch to batch, these authentic and rustic-tasting wines are growing in popularity. Experiment with reliably consistent Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonterra Chardonnay from their organic California winery. The Mendocino County vineyard eschews pesticides for natural solutions, from using birds and sheep to control weeds and insects to planting diverse cover crops like crimson clover and lavender to attract bees and nourish the soil. Can you taste any traces of that care in the bottle?

3. THE RETURN OF SWEET

Once upon a time, sweet wine was taboo; today, sweetness can be a treasured quality in wines that have acidity, tannins or other balancing qualities. The ticket to finding them on LCBO.com or shelf labels: look for “MS” (medium-sweet) or “M” (medium) wines, and a style descriptor that includes “fruity.” Try trendy wine from the ancient region of Georgia: United Stars Alazanis Valley Off Dry from the Kakheti region is a red made with acidic Saperavi grapes. Tropical-smelling, just-tart-enough  Ironstone Obsession Symphony California makes a mouth-watering break from minerally and dry whites.