The wine that was banned in America

You know the phrase that Italians do it better coined by Madonna? Well, they do. They do everything better: art, life, walking, fashion, vacations, beaches, food, sex and of course wine. Italians are a passionate people and it’s no secret. Well then why was it such a surprise to American import regulations when Bibi Graetz applied to export one of his carefully made lines of wine: Soffocone? Well, I’ll tell you. soffocone

See this image? It is a label to one of the lovely wines produced by Bibi Graetz at Azienda Agricola Testamatta in Tuscany. The image seems like an artistic depiction of a naked woman. Nothing vulgar in my opinion, I mean if the American media can allow Pamela Anderson running around with her fake boobs on Baywatch on public television- what’s wrong with a sketch of the female form on a bottle of wine which, like any beautiful woman, will inevitably seduce your senses? To me, this creates no offense. But look a little deeper…ever hear of the word “Soffocone”? In Tuscany, there are lots of little vulgarities. After all, the Italian language was born from vulgarity. If you read Dante’s Inferno, written by Dante Alighieri the father of this bella lingua, you will read prose speaking of pure filth. In Florence, there is the famous Piazza della Passera which means “The Pussy Square” as historically it served as a square full of brothels (che bordello!). Soffocone,  my friends, is in the Tuscan dialect for blow-job.

Okay, the picture seems a bit clearer-right? But why name a wine after a blow-job? I mean, is the wine that good? The wine got its name oddly from the location. Vincigliato is the name of the location of the vineyard where the grapes originate from. It is located near Fiesole just moments away from Florence! Wines in Italy are not about variety but about origin. When you drink an Italian wine, you are able to understand the expression of the land in which it came from. Within the Vincigliato zone therein lies a castle known among locals as a popular destination for young lovers to venture romantically. Think of the secluded parks, the outdoor theatres, the private beaches, hidden away look-outs- Vincigliato is the Italian equivalent of the “make-out point.

That’s where the wine grows, so naturally the name of the wine should reflect the territory. The American officials didn’t like this one bit and gave their application a big fat red no and was banned from ever entering into the marketplace. Damn. According to dependable sources (None other than Wikipedia) “Graetz’ mid-range wine Soffocone di Vincigliata was banned from U.S. import due to regulations that permit no wine label to feature any type of sexual imagery.”

However, the label was later revised and the same juice was eventually allowed to pass through the American Wine and Spirits bureaucratic controls.

But you reckon any drinker in the states who gets this wine under a more innocent alias label even knows how much controversy is swirling inside their glass? They may never know.

If you are in Tuscany, you must go wine tasting. And you must visit Fiesole. Please learn more about Bibi Graetz on their well-done website with lots of videos to get lost in:

A list of his wines via Vinopedia:

The full historical account on Castello di Vincigliato via Wikipedia:

(Article written by Coral: Gourmet food blogger for Restaurants in Florence and

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