The Mountain Times

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Importers: Demystifying the process of choosing wine

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 consider. 

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.

Tagged: Wine, Wine Experiments, Choosing wine, wine importers