When I see this wine on the shelf at Trader Joe's, with the $3.99 price tag and the pretentious, old fashioned label, I conjure up images of the ancient Italian wine-maker whose signature is engraved on the bottle. Actually, Gaetano d'Aquino is a year younger than me and lives near Los Angeles. He quotes Frank Sinatra on his website: "I feel sorry for people who don't drink wine. When they wake in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."
Born in Sicily in 1940 while World War II was raging, Gaetano was sent to live with his grandparents in Los Angeles. His parents joined him later. In 1978, he started the d'Aquino Italian Importing Company, selling 850,000 cases of wines a year to supermarkets and distributors in North America.
This wine, of course, comes from the area around Venice, and it has classic Pinot Grigio delle Venezie traits--brisk herbal, green mint smells and flavors, very fresh and lively. As the label states, it has "a pleasantly bitter after taste." It's not really a match for MezzaCorona, but it's made in the same style. And for $3.99, who is to complain?