Many years ago, before the dawn of the modern era, when there were still phone booths on corners, and SPAM meant a disgusting meat-like canned substance, my lovely bride and I were at an Italian restaurant, an authentic one in the Little Italy section of a nearby city, and we decided we should have a bottle of wine. We were fairly new to the wine thing, but smugly self satisfied with our sophistication. We had progressed from Riunite’s Lambrusco and Bianco to Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel, the new rage at the time. But we had begun to find it a tad too sweet. Maybe several tads. So we asked the waitress to help us pick a wine, and we ended up with Cavit Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a revelation, a moment of enlightenment. That began the tentative exploration of the countless avenues, side streets, nooks and crannies of the world of wine. And it was quickly apparent that for every step one took in that exploration, a hundred other possible directions revealed themselves. It was a big world. But, for sometime, the reference point, the “home page” for us was the Cavit brand. We shortly discovered their Pinot Grigio, and it became a regular favorite.
Cavit wines come from the Trentino or Alto Adige zone at the northern extreme of Italy, where it borders Austria. The region’s geography is defined by the southern fingers of the Alps and the Adige River forming valleys where grapes can thrive. Cavit is a cooperative of, today, eleven wineries and thousands of growers. The co-op was formed in the 50’s for Trentino’s farmers to share resources. Their venture was named Cantina Viticolori del Trentino-shortened to Ca’ Vit.
Cavit is one of the 800 pound gorillas in the Italian section of wine stores today, thanks largely to the marketing efforts of Palm Bay International, a wholesale distributor turned importer. Driven by their founder, David Taub, they introduced Pinot Grigio to American palates, found shelf space nationally for their new baby, Ca’ Vit, urged the dropping of the apostrophe in the name, and taught Americans how to pronounce the name by hiring Dick Cavett to promote the brand and teach us that Cavit sounded just like Cavett. It’s a 3,000,000 case brand, annually, in the U.S. now.
It’s not hard to see why Mr. Taub thought Cavit Pinot Grigio would be agreeable to American tastes. It is light, citrusy, very clean, refreshing and easy to drink. Pale gold in the glass, it’s to be enjoyed well chilled, agreeable to our soft-drink culture, and it works with a wide variety of food, especially the lighter, healthy fare many of us prefer (or should).
Cavit is “popularly priced”. The Store where I shop, the 750’s are $9, the 1.5’s $14. But it seems that one of the 2 sizes is always sale priced. The 1.5 liter bottle we bought most recently to take along to a Sushi joint was on sale for $10.99. So it is Cheapskate friendly.
Certainly, light white wines are not always what one wants to drink. Most of the time our household prefers dark, dramatic, surly reds. But when a cheerful, bright taste is in order, you cannot go wrong with this old favorite.