Day 6: 2014 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and Müller Thurgau

Featuring Réka Haros, marketer and co-owner of Sfriso winery in the Veneto region of northern Italy.

“I buy that wine by the case.”

That was my friend J, referring to Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio from northern Italy. Yes, she knows that Pinot Grigio is wildly popular and widely available. And yes, she knows that most Pinot Grigios cost much less than the Santa Margherita.

Doesn’t matter.

The Santa Margherita is “her” wine, because Italy is “her” happy place, and this label and this particular wine take her there, at least in spirit.

I get it. Drinking this wine is a little like the thrill of hearing a sexy foreign accent. You understand the words, but there’s just enough of something else to plant a few ideas in your imagination.

J and I aren’t alone. Far from it. The Santa Margherita reigns as the most-requested Pinot Grigio in the U.S., even at $22.99 per bottle (at my local supermarket) and $18.49 (at Costco) and despite standing side-by-side with competitors that cost $10 and less.

I wondered if Santa Margherita enjoyed the same popularity in its homeland, so I asked my colleague Réka Haros to do a little legwork. Réka lives and works in northern Italy, and she says that on the supermarket shelf near her home, this same wine costs €8.50, or a little more than $9.00, which is about half of what it costs in the U.S.

The Pinot Grigio is Santa Margherita’s flagship brand, but most of it is exported to the U.S. market, giving American drinkers more opportunity to buy it (and pay more for it) than their Italian counterparts.

As she was walking the supermarket aisles, Réka noticed that it was actually a different wine — the Santa Margherita Müller Thurgau — that shoppers picked up more often than the Pinot Grigio, plus it costs €2 less.

So she bought some Santa Margherita Müller Thurgau too. And here’s what she thought.

My husband and I decided to open it this past Sunday around 11 am while thinking about what to prepare for lunch. Of course, it was the perfect aperitif time! In Italy we are aperitif-time fans… Every occasion is a good occasion for an aperitif, and in most cases, it means a glass of a fizzy or sparkling wine.
The Müller Thurgau was pleasant and refreshing. The first glass begged for the next one! The beauty of it was that while sipping on it we decided what we would be preparing for lunch. This fizzy wine inspired us to prepare a vegetable-based pasta. Of course, pasta, what else in Italy?
We actually had to force ourselves not to finish the bottle in the name of “aperitif-time”, but we did finish it a few hours later when it was again time for an aperitif around 6pm, while thinking about dinner.
I can see why consumers buy this wine. It’s easy, pleasant, and begs for more!

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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!