Day 25: Cabernet Sauvignon from Italy

Guest post by Elisabetta Tosi, Italian wine writer and consultant based in Valpolicella, Italy

“The wine of this month is a typical example of its category: a unmistakable Cabernet Sauvignon of Veneto, which must be only distantly related to the noble French grape that bears its name; the sensorial features of this wine have nothing to do with the grape I know. ‘Green’ is the only adjective that best suits this wine. Rating: 1 (out of 5)”

[The specific wine was a 2006 Cabernet del Piave from Fossaluzza G. e Figli]

It happened many years ago. I had been asked to write a monthly column for a digital Italian wine magazine, something easy, “close to the typical average consumer’s taste.” No snobbery, or wines too difficult to find (or to buy).

I was bit puzzled and not sure that I was the right wine writer for these kind of articles, but I nonetheless accepted. I entitled my column “The Wine in the Shopping Basket,” and began to buy the cheapest and easiest bottles I was able to find on the shelves of the supermarkets, more or less as an “average housewife” or even a retired person would do.

I noticed that when it comes to choosing a bottle of wine, the “average” buyers look mainly at 2 things: the price and the alcohol. Both have to be the lowest you can find.

In my honest opinion, this meant that I drank poorly for months. Some wines were awful, others were very light, anonymous, mostly tasteless, with a very few fruity scents and a thin structure in the best case.

I never tried to embellish the truth, and in my column I wrote what I felt, so my wine reviews were fair, with judgments that sometimes sounded harsh. I was secretly (almost) sure that my publisher would have asked me to stop because no one was interested in trying those wines.

I was wrong! Readers were very interested in that type of wine on the lowest shelves. I received many, many emails from people asking me where to buy a wine like these. “You say it is drinkable, great! And it’s cheap, so it is perfect as my house wine.”

Most people who emailed me were restaurateurs, owners of small and family-run restaurants.

My goal was to help people to choose their wines wisely in the supermarket, and ultimately to drink better, but what happened was exactly the opposite: the people who seemed most interested in the column were those who wanted to skimp on their wine.

A few months after that, I ended my column.

In some respects, I failed. I don’t think I taught anyone to choose the best wines.

In other respects, I learned an important lesson: the wine world is huge, and there is a market for everything.

Quick Background Note: The Blue Collar Wine Guide is a 30-day, 30-wine experiment that looks at some of the world’s most popular, consumer-friendly wines. The idea is to take off my wine-writer shoes and stand instead in the shoes of Jane-and-Joe-in-front-of-a-wall-of-wine. Thank you for reading today’s post!