'Terry Theise' on Serious Eats

A Tribute to Charlie Trotter From Wine Importer Terry Theise

I must say, I have never seen a restaurant that respected wine more than Charlie Trotter's. Many times I experienced the now-legendary adaptations of dishes to the wine on the table. Once I asked Charlie, "Did you really change that dish because I'd ordered (X) wine?" He said, "Of course I did; we do it all the time. What's in the bottle can't be changed, but I can tweak a dish to make the match work perfectly." More

Terry Theise on What Happens to Wine as it Ages

We've been chatting a bunch lately about which wines age well, and which wines we should buy to drink ten or fifteen or twenty years down the road. Today, we're checking in with famed wine importer (and friend of the site) Terry Theise. He's known for bringing small-production wines from Germany, Austria, and the Champagne region of France to the US, so he knows a thing or two about how these bottles taste as time goes by. More

Terry Theise On What To Say to a Sommelier

We have a high-priest class in fine dining restaurants. They possess the mysteries, and while nearly all of them are remarkably affable and helpful, one's heart can quake when they approach the table. "I must be able to navigate this crucible if I want anyone to even like me, let alone get...lucky." So what does an otherwise capable person do in this delicate moment? How do you make it through with your aplomb intact, and furthermore, how do you get the most from your sommelier? More

Riesling Report: Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 2008

Riesling nerds tend to sigh when you mention Willi Schaefer; the tiny production, the beautiful flavors, the few bottles they've sequestered away in long-term storage. There's an elegance and polish to this wine that you don't see at lower price levels, but the excitement is still there. A fennel and elderflower note reminded us a bit of pastis, with blue-green, mentholated eucalyptus-like flavor as it opens up. More

Riesling Report: Hiedler Riesling Urgestein 2009

Sometimes a wine has a little peppery alcohol heat, or a hint of the slightly floral note of white pepper, but I have never tasted a wine with such a vivid freshly-cracked black pepper flavor as this. This wine is almost plush compared to the other Austrian rieslings we've tried lately, tart and slim but rounded with floral and vegetable flavors. More

Riesling Report: Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2010

A needles-and-pins sort of wine, full of buzzy acidity and lots of spicy ginger-chew-candy flavor. This vibrant Mosel wine is intensely fruity and concentrated, like apples two ways (the first tart bite of a Granny Smith, and the clove-and-cinnamon spiked applesauce you eat with pork chops.) It's tasty stuff, packed full of personality. Veins of minerality rise through each glass, and at the finish you're left with wet stones dissolving slowly in your mouth. More

Riesling Report: Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese, 2009

I think what many people don't realize about sweet wines is how bright and vibrant they can be—even refreshing. This isn't viscous tropical-fruit nectar, it's wine at once crisp and gently sweet. This Rheingau Spatlese smells a bit like fresh gingerbread, almost peppery. The fruit is pure and luminous: skin-on pears, yellow cherries, baby clementine segments, and a nice balancing green-apple tartness. More

Riesling Report: Schlossgut Diel Riesling Kabinett 2009

This bright, fresh wine has a sweetness that isn't decadent or syrupy, just veils of spun honey layered over veils of minerals and veils of minty herbs. There's a buzzy acidity (we were reminded of Sour Patch Kids) and each sip lays soft petals of lemon-lime on your tongue, then a whirlpool of mineral water swirling over pears and rosemary, apricots and fennel. More

Riesling Report: Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, 2010

This wine is confounding. It begins with tart fruit, spice, and stone: apple peels, apple cider, and a mountain on ground cinnamon rest on a skeleton of minerality. I was reminded of lemons with cloves stuck in the peel, fragrant, spicy, but this lightly sweet, vibrant wine has a lot of savory in it; the baking spices are balanced with something earthy—miso, a bit of sweat, and, as importer Terry Theise notes, a hint of caraway. What is sourdough rye doing in this wine? More

Riesling Report: Nikolaihof Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd, 2008

At the recent Theise portfolio tasting, the Nikolaihof wines stopped me in my tracks—not just the riesling, but the Grüner and Gelber Muskateller as well. Sipping these wines, the buzz of the room blurred into the background, and the flavors washed over me: fruit and stones, flowers pressing through slate, herbs releasing their oils. So I've been hoarding this bottle, waiting for a night when I had a good long time to spend with it. More

Terry Theise On the Price of Wine, Part 2

How do you spend your wine dollars wisely? If you possibly can, try to favor the wines of Old-World small family estates, not because they are necessarily "better" (though often they are) but because you're getting more absolute wine-quality per dollar spent. Why? Because these families own their land, their vines and their homes. Their only actual expenses not already cited are for equipment maintenance and upgrades, and most saliently for labor. More

Terry Theise On the Price of Wine, Part 1

Sometimes someone will return from a trip to France where he has visited the producer of the wine he's been paying $27.99 for, and he's shocked to see he can buy it at the winery for 9 Euro. He assumes a retinue of greedy capitalists have squeezed every shekel they could eke out of the wine. But where do those numbers come from? More

Wine Notes from Terry Theise: A Unique Frustration in Wine

There is a unique frustration sometimes in wine. You buy a random bottle somewhere; it seemed interesting at the time, but it's an incidental. Some day you'll open it and find out how it is, or was. If it's disappointing, that's OK. If it's good, then it's good. But if it's exceptional, it ambushes you, and all the time you're fascinated and blown away you know you'll never have that wine again. And you lost the pleasure of anticipation. So you're amazed at the suddenly amazing wine, and the moment wasn't prepared for. More

Serious Reads: Reading Between the Wines, by Terry Theise

Reading Between the Wines by noted wine importer Terry Theise is a wine book that's so stunning, your glass will never look the same. This book is part philosophy, part love letter to the importance of cultivating a craft, and part moving defense of the sacred aspects of wine, and why place and people are essential to our enjoyment of what's in the glass. More

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