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Words of Wine Wisdom

Terry Thiese is a distinguished American wine merchant who specializes in wines from Austria, Champagne and Germany, and has been included in The Wine Advocate’s “Most Important Wine Personalities of the last 25 years.” He was quoted in The World of Fine Wine (Issue 25, 2009) as saying his career “is a model of what successes are possible given a combination of utopianism, fanaticism, and poor business sense.” In an article in the same issue titled, “Values in Wine. An Attempt to Codify,” Thiese made a number of provoking statements about wine that were so timely and true that I had to repeat them here for you to chew on. This article will appear in an adapted form in the forthcoming book, Reading Between the Wines, to be published in September 2010 by the University of California Press. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.


“I’d rather drink something that tastes like something and not like everything. Anything can taste like everything - and too often it does, and it bores the crap out of me.”

“Some wines deserve your entire field of attention, but these are almost never the ones that scream in order to get it. Modest wines are endangered in these times, when power is overvalued. Just because your text is written in bold, it doesn’t mean you have anything to say.”

“When ripeness is sufficient, why do we assume over ripeness will be preferable?”

“The argument that only ambient vineyard yeasts can convey terroir is otiose. Each choice a producer makes to start the fermentation has advantages and disadvantages - and with very few exceptions, none is ‘morally’ preferable to another.”

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