The marked improvement in Italian wines, especially the more affordable stuff, is something I can actually attest to personally. I spent almost three years in Italy in the Navy. We sailors were called “squids,” and I ate a boatload of squid. And drank a lot of forgettable, often regrettable wine.
Maybe I would have fared better if I had run into this gentleman:
At a wine merchant’s warehouse the regular taster died, and the director started looking for a new one to hire. A retired Chief Petty Officer, drunk and with a ragged dirty look, came to apply for the position. The director wondered how to send him away.
They gave him a glass of wine to taste. The old Chief tried it and said, “It’s a muscat, three years old, grown on a north slope, matured in steel containers. Low grade but acceptable.”
“That’s correct,” said the boss. “Another glass, please.” After tasting the wine, the Chief declared, ” a cabernet, eight years old, southwestern slope, oak barrels, matured at eight degrees. Requires three more years for finest results.”
“Absolutely correct. A third glass.”
”It’s a pinot blanc champagne, high grade and exclusive,” calmly said the drunk. The director was astonished and winked at his secretary to suggest something. She left the room and came back in with a glass of urine.
The old Navy Chief tried it. “It’s a blonde, 26 years old, three months pregnant, and if I don’t get the job, I’ll name the father.”