The Queen Mary Chianti Caper

The Queen Mary Chianti Caper

Showing 3 of 5

Chianti, At Last
So here’s the part where we finally get to the Queen Mary and the Chianti. One evening, somewhere around mid-crossing, my parents were dining in Queen Mary’s Tourist Class dining room. Another couple at the table ordered a bottle of Chianti to accompany dinner.

Queen Mary Tourist Class Dining Room

Queen Mary’s Tourist Class Dining Room.

When the bottle appeared, mom and dad were amazed. Never before had my parents seen a bottle of wine packaged so beautifully. In fact, my parents had never, ever seen a bottle of real Italian Chianti—which at that time always came a unique squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a “fiasco” (from the Italian, literally meaning a “bottle” or “flask”). When mom and dad were each offered a glass of the wine by their generous tablemates, they felt that they were truly living the high life. Drinking Chianti on the Queen Mary! Just like Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant!

Mom and dad made a mental note of the wine’s name. The next day, they visited one of Queen Mary’s bars and asked a barman how much such a wonderful bottle of wine would cost. Expecting to hear a price possibly as high as the entire post-war British debt, mom and dad actually learned that they had sipped cheap plonk cash-strapped Italian vintners were pouring out by the tank load.

My parents were stunned and disheartened, suddenly feeling more like Laurel and Hardy than Dietrich and Grant.

To continue, click the NEXT button on the top of this page.