Saturday, June 21, 2008

Word of the Week: funk

I was at an Ontario wine fair the other day and I wanted to try a sparkling wine called “Funk Blanc de Noir 2000” from the Thirteenth Street Winery. I went up to the winery’s table and, putting my glass up, asked to try the “Funk”. The guy from the winery reached for a bottle of chardonnay. Pulling my glass back, I said, “No, I want the bubbly -- you know, the Funk.”

The guy apologized and as he poured me some of the sparkling he explained that the chardonnay is also a Funk wine. I didn’t know what he was talking about, as the label for the chardonnay simply said, “Reserve Chardonnay 2005”, while “Funk” was clearly printed in large letters on the sparkling wine’s label. He then explained that both wines are from grapes grown on property that was once owned by the Funk family, hence the reference to Funk.

The guy from the winery said that it wasn’t until he started attending such wine events that he realized consumers thought they probably used the word as a marketing ploy. That was exactly what I thought. (For better or worse, marketing is becoming ubiquitous in the world of wines just as it is in other things, hence names for wines like Fat Bastard, Ted the Mule, The Lackey, etc.)

Apparently, as a result of others’ confusion, the guy from the winery has come to realize how many different meanings there are to the word. (Indeed, lists seven meanings.) I could think of many different definitions myself, but I had never even considered Funk as a surname.

I thought funk deserves to be word of the week not because of its many definitions and possible marketing uses, but because the way the word came to my attention this week reminded me that sometimes turning to the dictionary to find out what a word “means” isn’t the answer!


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