Ramona Singer and her ilk most likely don’t know that they have David Taub to thank for their various pinot grigio lines, personal collections, and pinot grigio-fueled reunion show catfights. He first introduced the Italian white to the American market in 1977, when the only Italian wines Americans were drinking were Chianti and Soave Bolla, and sadly died earlier this month from complications due to kidney disease.
A wine importer, Taub was convinced pinot grigio would be a hit in The States because it was “more in the American style — easy to drink, customer-friendly.”
“The problem,” he explained, “was, how do you take a wine that no one has heard of and introduce it into the marketplace?”
Uh, by pairing it up in an ad campaign with an iconic American talk show host, of course. Enter Dick Cavett, who was brought in to help make the association with an Anglicized pronunciation of that first vineyard, Cavit. “I’m the Cavett from Nebraska,” the ads would go. “But you should get to know the Cavit from the Italian Alps.”
Within two years, Taub was importing 500,000 cases of pinot grigio a year. Now that number is around 3 million. He’s credited with single-handedly helping Italy take over France as the number one imported wine in the United States in the 1980s.
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