Wine You Can Trust

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There are a variety of available sources of information about wine, and Parker's travails notwithstanding, some critics are pretty good. Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher with The Wall Street Journal are down to earth, fair and consistently offer us interesting leads. The New York Times' Eric Asimov has pointed us in the right direction.

Which brings us to the piece in Slate. Writer Mike Steinberger says if the label is giving you trouble, "flip the bottle around and see who imported it." That's because importers have played a "central, even defining role in the emergence and growth of American wine culture," says Steinberger.

"Combining impeccable taste with evangelical zeal, people like Kermit Lynch, Robert Chadderdon, Robert Haas and Terry Theise have not only introduced Americans to many of the greatest wines that Europe has to offer, they have helped cultivate several generations of palates," he writes.

All are great examples. Kermit Lynch is an importer known for his impeccable taste. Locally, Left Bank Wines distributes his products. Terry Theise, in addition to being former L'Etoile proprietor Odessa Piper's husband, imports wines from Austria as well as small producer Champagnes. Find his wines at Steve's Liquor.

Of course there are always conditions. Jim Wofford, a Boston wine consultant and distributor, says identifying importers is a smart idea but he adds this caveat--an importer carries the portfolio of the producers, and while the producers are known for good wines there are some years nature doesn't hold up its end of the bargain. So some knowledge of vintages helps. But when the genuine article you're looking for is a reliable bottle of wine, a list of trusted importers is invaluable. You can find Steinberger's list at slate.com/id/2217806/.

Nancy Christy is the former owner of the Wilson Street Grill. She now runs the consulting firm Meaningful People, Places and Food. Neil Heinen is, among other things, her hungry husband. Comments? Questions? Please write to genuinearticles@madisonmagazine.com.

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