Oenophiles’ Latest Obsession: Unicorn Wine
Popularized on social media, the term is used to refer to bottles as elusive as the mythical creature
As sommeliers continue to shape the wine world’s tastes, one charming bit of industry jargon has lately begun spilling into the mainstream: “unicorn wine.” Used to refer to bottles as elusive as the mythical horned horse, the turn of phrase for ultrarare vintages—think one of the long-lost whites from Clos de la Maréchale—was popularized as a hashtag on the Instagram and Twitter feeds of sommeliers like Rajat Parr, wine director for Michael Mina’s restaurants, and the NoMad’s Thomas Pastuszak. The phrase points to a larger trend in the business: Unlike the blue-chip trophy wines that collectors have typically vied for (Latour, Lafite), unicorn wines confer status not by cost but by the skill—or luck—it takes to acquire one. It’s a brand of exclusivity you can’t just buy. And thanks to social media, which allows oenophiles to post gleefully bragging bottle shots, proof of existence can be furnished for all the world to see.