Wed, Dec 21, 2011 10:20 AM
Choosing wine is not that different from choosing a new shirt.
It's all about your own personal taste. Most people stick with the
tried and proven, whatever your shirt color, you'll probably stay
within shades of it. This column is all about choosing wine and
trying to demystify the process: Whatever makes you choose a wine,
the shape of the bottle, the design of the label, the type of grape
or the region of origin, there is always more to
One approach is to look at the importer. Most people don't consider
this, but think about it: this is someone hired to fly to Italy and
pick the best wine available at a certain price. Obviously, this
somebody should be knowledgeable about wine and have good taste
- And you don't even have to pay extra for this service.
Usually listed on the back label of imported wines, it is good
practice to get acquainted with the names responsible for bringing
the wine you like most to the US. Chances are you'll like their
other selections as well. A particular importer can act like a seal
of approval, the same wine expert that chose the last selection you
enjoyed also recommends this new one.
Some of these importers deal exclusively with one country or
region, others travel the globe in search of great wines at various
prices and qualities, but always adhering to the same strict taste
tests by their own palates.
Here are a few to look for:
Terry Theise's Austrian, German and Champagne catalogs have become
the standard to measure up against, according to Michael Skurnik
Wines. A brief perusal of his "ramblings" as he likes to call them,
makes it quickly apparent that the man has no reservations about
conveying his thoughts and feelings on wine, life, sex, philosophy
and general cosmology. In Theise's world, it's all inter-related.
So be encouraged to look for his name on the back of a bottle of
Riesling, Gruner Veltliner or Champagne.
Michael Skurnik searches the globe and has assembled one of the
finest portfolios of estate-bottled wines available at all price
points. Wines selected are measured by the best quality and need to
pass Skurnik's experienced palate judged by character and
winemaking. He'll do everything in his power to insure that the
wines, selected often before bottling, make it into the bottle and
onto the shelves in best condition. For more than twenty years
Skurnik has developed an incredible reputation and if the back
label says "Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines" it is as close to a
guarantee of quality as possible.
Robert Kacher is another to keep an eye out for. He began his
relationship with a lineup of producers in Burgundy, Alsace, the
Rhone Valley, and Southwest France over 25 years ago. Kacher states
on the Robert Kacher Selections website that his goal as to
associate himself with the growers and producers who had both the
passion and energy to strive to become their country's most
renowned winemakers. His commitment requires covering 20 thousand
miles a year, criss-crossing from region to region in an effort to
select the finest individual wines destined for America. A kind of
hands-on approach to working with growers and producers he sees as
the only way to assure both quality and authenticity.