The search for bad wine

Our experimental procedure.

During a two month stay in Italy, my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine with many of our meals. We rented ‘self-catering’, or kitchenette apartments in some places, and bought our own groceries, so had the opportunity to buy bottles of wine from local shops and markets in many parts of southern Italy. And it was so inexpensive!! We were very happy with the $4 and $5 bottles, and pleased we were getting such nice wine at that price.

But what was the $3 wine like? We didn’t want to drink the Italian equivalent of Annie Green Springs or the vinegary Chianti I recalled from my youth in Alaska. We decided to give it a try.

My sister, Marlie Johnson, checks out some Calabrian grapes on the vine.

The $3 wine was perfectly acceptable, so, hey, why not try the next one down?

We carried on with our experiment, right on down to the$1.50 bottles and found every one to be at worst tolerable, and sometimes surprisingly good.

The brand, you ask? They year? Sorry, I’m not talking about brand name wines. In little shops we found locally made wines not produced for export. I imagined them being made in the ‘cantina’ in the walk-out basement of a farmhouse at the edge of town, whatever

The cantina in a private home in Sinalunga, Tuscany.

town we were in, put up in giant casks. Maybe they grew the grapes in a local vigna, or maybe they bought them at the market or a roadside stand, where crates of grapes were stacked for sale in the fall.

We concluded, after many happy hours of experimentation, that Italians do not tolerate bad wine.

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