Wine—that most prolific of all the world's beverages, except maybe for water or beer—is served in Antarctica as surely as it sits in your smelly ol' fridge. The peeps down at McMurdo Station, a U.S. research base some 2,200 miles due south of New Zealand, have a wine tasting each July, with cheese and food and music and everything. This is the breakout annual event for McMurdo's 1,000 or so inhabitants, who look at it like we do Christmas or Easter or Sadie Hawkins Day—and God knows that amid temperatures of 40 below and more, they never have to toy with chilling the stuff.
Such a special occasion calls for a special entry, hardy enough to warm its imbiber's cockles yet smooth enough not to damage them (in extreme cases, such injuries can lead to loss of consortium). One of those entries is a Syrah called Concho Toro Marques de Casa, out of Chile's Maipo Valley (which only figures, since Southern Chile isn't that far from Antarctica)—and for all the world, it sports a taste as weird as the South Pole itself. The stuff feels vaguely like a fruit paste, what with its thick fig and licorice and plum flavors; hard to believe it was made at a winery and not a confectionary. That doesn't make it a bad selection; on the contrary, its rare blend of tastes is most enlivening, especially at a place like McMurdo, whose second most anticipated annual event is a tractor pull for penguins.
This is the strangest wine I've ever tasted, but for $19.99 at BevMo and other stellar shops, it's worth it. The McMurdo folks have tough, tough duty down there, and it's nice to commiserate in absentia over a bottle of Concho Toro. Just take care to leave those cockles safely under wraps, and you're on your way.