Leading German and Austrian winemakers charge through Charleston tomorrow

(Photo/Alan Hawes)

Here’s my favorite piece of advice for wine drinkers who are just starting to look beyond the Trader Joe’s shelf: Buy by the importer.

Even though I can tick off what I like in a wine – earthiness, round tannins, complexity – I’m more interested in the holistic experience than any individual tasting note. I want a wine that will pair gorgeously with food and make my mealtime better, maybe because everyone is having so much fun drinking it. That’s an order which transcends varietal and growing region, but the very best importers aim to fulfill it by assembling a collection of great, idiosyncratic wines. (I also believe in betting the jockey, not the horse.)

If you haven’t previously paid much attention to importers’ names, you’ll find one on every bottle’s back label. There are a number of online guides to infallible importers, but if you’re dealing with wine from Austria or Germany – a nation notorious for inscrutable wine labels – the name to remember is Terry Theise. Universally acknowledged as a wine legend, Theise pretty much introduced Riesling to the rest of the world.

In South Carolina, Theise’s wines are distributed by Grassroots Wine (another name to remember if you plan to get in the habit of flipping to the backs of bottles.) The company tomorrow afternoon is staging a tasting with seven winemakers affiliated with the Terry Theise portfolio.

“Rare is the opportunity to meet a true iconic winemaker, but to have seven in one place at one time is truly amazing,” Grassroots’ owner Harry Root says. “Selbach, Schrock, Donnhoff, Alzinger, Hirsch, Sattler, and Hexamer represent some of the best and traditionally rich wineries in each of their respective regions of Germany and Austria.”

The featured winemakers’ evening will continue with a wine dinner at Butcher & Bee.

Root recommends the $25 event for fans of bright, acid-driven white wines “and fans of wine in general.”

The tasting at Cannon Green, 103 Spring St., runs from 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.; the ticket price includes snacks of meat and cheese. For tickets, visit citypapertickets.com.