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A term used by cynical Italians for "improved" food and drinks.

Thanks to a little improving, Italy is the worlds largest wine producer, though it has fewer vines than many other countries - including France.

The wine "sophisticators" use/used well water because it was cheaper than tap water and, perhaps because it was unmetered, nobody could ask questions about the use of extraordinary quantities.

Ox blood was used to clear up the sediment and ethyl chlorocarbonate, a bactericide, to kill off the natural micro-organisms that produce fermentation.

The Italian press estimated that a third of Italian wines, mostly cheap table wines, had never been anywhere near a whole, freshly-squeezed grape.

When the scandal first made headlines in the mid 1960"s, many Italians turned away from wine - the younger generation (in particular) still tend to drink beer and soft drinks instead.

In 1969, it was discovered that about two-thirds of the material evidence at a trial (875,000 gallons), suspected of being vino migliorato, confiscated and stored under official seal in the town of Ascoli Piceno (where 217 Italians, including vintner Bruno Ferrari, were being tried in one of the longest, costliest and most complex trials in Italian history) - had vanished. The "wine" had been replaced with casks of water.

Butter and Parmesan cheese have had their share of suspicions - not because of their quality, which is undoubted, but because the quantity of milk required would seem to over-reach the quantity produced in a climate not always conducive to the growing of grass. Much of the milk used for each, is rumoured to be imported from Germany.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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