How to buy imported wines without knowing anything about the producer

What if I said I could assure you that every wine you bought was going to be both good and an excellent value even though you didn’t have any information about the producer…well, it’s really very very easy!!!

When traveling or wanting to purchase wine in a shop or restaurant that is unfamiliar, making a selection is often very difficult because you don’t recognize labels or producers names. However, here is a simple way of selecting wines when confronted with this situation. Simply make your selections from importers with consistently high quality portfolios and you can be assured that almost any wine, no matter what price range you select, will be good. The key here is to identify the wine importers with portfolios that only include high quality wines. Many importers don’t have consistent quality because they have mixed in lesser wines that could be bought at a low price or in an attempt to expand their portfolio without consideration of quality.

Because Vicky and I tend to drink lots of different wines and very infrequently purchase wines we have already had, we gravitate toward selecting wines from importers we know have consistent high quality wines. And the best part of this is we are almost NEVER disappointed. Also, people frequently ask us for recommendations about selecting wines and nine out of ten times if we provide a specific producer they will say they can’t fine it; but, if we give them the name of an importer they can usually fine something with that name on the back label and it’s guaranteed to be a good wine.

With this in mind, following is a list of a few large importers and one small regional importer that we have found every bottle in their portfolio to be high quality and a good value for the price. We would recommend any bottle in their portfolio. In other words you can’t go wrong buying a wine imported by these importers regardless of the price point your looking to buy.

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. ( With a retail store located in Berkeley, California, Kermit Lynch imports French and Italian wines that are are available to local stores and restaurants throughout the U.S. Kermit Lynch is known for their wines that come from small, artisan producers and that express the vineyard “terroir”. The portfolio includes wines in all price ranges, from what we would call FANTASTIC bargains to higher priced truly outstanding wines. A large percentage of the wines we drink and review are imported by Kermit lynch.

Louis Dressner Selections; New York, New York. ( Louis Dressner imports wine from France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Croatia, Slovenia and Chile. Their portfolio comes from over 100 producers who use natural viticulture and non-interventionist wine making that respects traditions of the native region. These are wines you will probably not see advertised in flashy wine magazines, but are remarkable examples of passionate wine making using more traditional natural methods. Many of the memorable wines we have reviewed were imported by Louis Dressner.

Rosenthal Wine Merchant; New York, New York. ( The Rosenthal portfolio includes wines from over 100 producers in France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. All their wines are produced using sustainable and organic agriculture that produce traditionally made wines crafted at limited-production by family-owned vineyards. Rosenthal wines are distributed in 42 states and the District of Columbia so they should be easy to find in most metropolitan areas of the U.S.

Piedmont Wine Imports; Durham, North Carolina. ( Even though Piedmont Wine Imports only distributes wines in North Carolina, we have included them in this list to show that smaller, localized importers also have portfolios containing consistent high quality wines. Piedmont Wine Imports distributes natural wines made by an eclectic group of wine makers from small Italian family farms. Their portfolio includes wines in a wide range of prices and includes some of our “all-time” favorites, e.g. Caparsino Chianti Classico Riserva 2008.

Our wine reviews include an importer keyword for each post, so if you want to expand this list just look at what we said about different wines from the various importers. And next time your purchasing European wines look closely at the importer’s name printed on the back label…it’s probably going to be the key to finding many new and exciting wines that are an excellent value.