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Back Stage Pass: Our #1 Trick for Finding Great Wines

We're pulling back the curtain and giving you a peek into what it's like to run a retail wine shop in NYC. Our first post in this series is about how we go about finding our--and hopefully your--favorite wines.

DRC, Lapierre Morgon, Keller Rieslings, Berèche Champagne. Some wines are easy: you buy all you can get.

But there isn’t enough Keller and Berèche to go around and what little we can buy is gone almost immediately.

So what do we do when we can’t buy enough of the–now famous–wines we love?

Honestly, this is the fun part! It’s a crazy big wine world out there, full of amazing growers producing absolutely delicious wines that haven’t hit the big time yet. Small (and medium and even sometimes large) producers working hard and waiting to “be discovered.” And we get to taste thousands of wines looking for the gems.

Of course, we don't always love what we taste. The world isn’t just full of great wines, it’s also full of mediocre, or just plain terrible wines. Some growers just haven’t figured it out yet, some are merely paying lip service to quality. So, tasting broadly means tasting much more than just the gems.

Fortunately, there are some paths through the wilderness that spare you lots of the dross and take you straight to good stuff.

Our number one trick—and one that will work just as well for consumers as it does for us—is to focus on wines that our favorite importers represent.

You can find the importer’s name on the back label of a wine. You may know some of the biggest names in little growers, folks like Kermit Lynch, Terry Theise, and Neal Rosenthal. These are importers that have cachet; enough that Kermit puts his name on the front of most of the wine he imports.

It makes sense—these importers are devoted to the same thing we are: finding tasty wines that are made by passionate growers; wines that are also interesting and represent their terroir. Generally they’re true to the local tradition, but often there’s a some cutting edge thinking thrown in, too. (After all, in some cases, drinking bad wine has become a tradition, too!)

Just as there many still-unknown but truly great producers, there are many still unheralded but truly great importers. Small operations that spend lots of time traveling the world looking for the kinds of wines we all love. When they tell us they’ve found something great, we can’t wait to taste it.

So when our friends at Schatzi Wines asked if we’d like to host an industry style tasting with almost a dozen growers for you, we jumped at the opportunity. These aren't famous names but they will be amazing wines made by amazing people. You will get to enjoy one of the great pleasures in the wine trade, sharing a glass of great wine with the person who made it.

You'll also get a rare chance to check in on an up-and-coming importer and get a sense of how that importer does what they do.

We’ve talked about Schatzi a bunch—partly because our old pal, Dan Weber, joined them to help get it off the ground. Schatzi’s founder, Kevin Pike, built a team which has travelled the world, building a network of growers devoted to the very same kinds of wines we are.

Schatzi may not be famous like Kermit or Terry Theise, yet. But that’s neither here nor there: the important thing is that the amazing work they’re all doing is bearing fruit that we can enjoy in the here and now. We hope you’ll join us…

For more information on the big tasting event, check out our Save The Date.