The wine matchmaker

For some people, a good meal isn’t complete without a good glass of wine. For others like Heather Korte, a good meal isn’t complete without the absolute right glass of wine.

In a city highly regarded for its selection of locally brewed beers, Korte, general manager of the soon-to-reopen Pizza Man restaurant on Milwaukee’s East Side, is setting out to wine and dine Milwaukee with her extensive knowledge of reds and whites.

As a Level II Certified Sommelier – a professional who has devoted their studies to beverages like wine, beer or cocktails – Korte has poured countless hours into her pursuit to learn as much about as many kinds of wines as possible.

After 13 years in the restaurant industry and more than six years as a certified sommelier, she is well versed in well over 1,000 wines.

With experience working for The Pfister Hotel’s Blu and Mason Street Grill, Osteria Del Mondo, and Trocadero among other regional establishments, Korte has come to specialize in American, French and Italian wines. Her knowledge, however, encompasses a much broader collection of international varieties.

At Pizza Man, slated to open this July on the corner of Downer and Belleview Streets, Korte is assembling a wine list featuring about 250 American wines “true to the roots of the original Pizza Man,” she said.

The wine list will likely grow to accommodate patrons’ preferences year round.

“I like to have a wine program that constantly is evolving and changing with the seasons and with the taste of our customers,” Korte said.

Korte, who frequented Pizza Man before it burned down in a fire in 2010, aims to achieve Level IV Master Sommelier status, the highest designation among sommeliers and one awarded only to those who can pass what she describes as “an incredibly demanding test.”

Despite how demanding the industry can be, Korte’s profession of pairing the perfect wine with diners’ palates is a true passion.

“I like teaching other people (about wine),” Korte said. “I like seeing that light go off on their face that what they’re tasting they’re understanding.”

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