While your definition of an unusual wine might be any one you can't pronounce, Rob Bonelli, wine director for Solo Vino, has higher standards. Bonelli recommends five great bottles of unusual wines from around the world, but not too unusual that you can't find them locally around the metro and, of course, at Solo Vino.
1. Mas Carlot Les Enfants Terribles 2008 ($13.99) This blend of syrah and mourvedre reds is a Cotes du Rhone-quality wine for a fraction of the price. From the Costieres de Nimes region in France, Bonelli recommends this wine's rich red berry and savory, roasted-meat character with wild game, especially venison.
2. Vina Mein Blanco 2008 ($17.99) This Spanish white, with hints of honey, melon and pear fruit, reflects the heritage of winemaking in Ribeiro, Spain, Bonelli says. Proprietor Javier Alen helped reestablish some ancient varietals to make this wine, which pairs well with crustaceans and shellfish.
3. Cazin Cour-Cheverney 2006 ($18.99) From France's Loire Valley, this white is made from the ancient grape romorantin. Bonelli recommends this wine to fans of chenin blanc and riesling, showing a similar honeyed, candied citrus fruit palate with a nutty richness.
4. Cornelissen Contadino 6 2008 ($29.99) This Sicilian red, made from a mix of indigenous red and white grape varieties grown in the volcanic soils of Mount Etna, is nearly impossible to get outside of Minnesota's wine market. Winemaker Frank Cornelissen doesn't filter or sulphur his wines, giving way to the wine's blood orange and red fruit flavors.
5. Chateau Musar 1999 ($54.99) Lebanon's most iconic winemaker, Serge Hochar, makes this brilliant blend of cinsault, carignan and cabernet. "The hue is brick, the aromatics are of barnyard, and the palate is rich, baked black fruit," Bonelli says, calling it one of the best wines in the world to have with lamb.