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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Frank Zappa: On Sicilian Wine and Snotty Sommeliers

As sometimes happens in the eno-blogosphere, magical connections are made. Unbeknownst to me Frank Zappa went to Sicily in 1982 to look up his Sicilian family. I know this because a friend of mine in Verona, Patricia Guy, told me about a recent documentary about Zappa’s visit. In light of the changing of the seasons, the move (over in Italy) this past Sunday to daylight savings time and this 1st day of April, I “channeled” the spirit of Frank Zappa to ask him about Wine in Sicily and snotty sommeliers. Surprisingly enough, Frank took time out from his post-life activities to respond.


AC- Frank, nice of you to join us on this 1st day of April. Tell us what inspired you to go to Italy?

FZ- I had a concert to do in Palermo and I thought I’d look up my Sicilian family in Partinico. I come from nowhere. I thought if I’d find them, they’d freak out. When I did, tears began to fall.

AC- Were you interested in wine?

FZ- No, I was more interested in beer, but when I got to Sicily I saw people drinking wine and thought this must be what it is like to be Sicilian, like a penguin in bondage. Or a Jewish princess. So I dug into my roots and started drinking wine. Excuse me, is it hot in here?

AC- Uh, no, not really, Frank. It’s only April.

FZ- It feels more like August. Could you turn up the air conditioner? Elvis has just left the building.

AC- Yeah, whatever. So tell me what you like about Sicilian wine.

FZ- First off, it has more alcohol than beer, so you can feel it faster. Secondly, it tastes good. But really, I got into it for the buzz. Getting weed in Sicily was sketchy. The only thing we could find was Camarillo Brillo. Wine was safer. We got the hook-up from Luigi and the wise guys.

AC- Any particular wines that struck your fancy?

FZ- Yeah, Corvo. I liked Corvo Red. It was cheap and good. And I liked almond flavored Marsala, reminded me of the cheap sloe gin we used to buy from the Sanzini brothers. Went really well with those almond flavored fruits they make. Sicily is really a great place for people with a sweet tooth and baby snakes. At the end of a gig, we’d be buzzed like we’d just had a holiday in Berlin, and then a teen-age prostitute would appear with these platters of bacon fat, almond flavored fruits and a magnum of Marsala. It was like maple syrup, we’d get higher than watermelon in Easter hay.

AC- Yeah. Anything from Mt. Etna? Wine from the volcano?

FZ- Nah, we never saw any of that. Go cry on somebody else’s shoulder. That probably came later when the snotty sommeliers started coming up. We just went in for mainstream stuff because that was all that was available. It’s not like it is now when even the most esoteric stuff ends up on some jacked up list somewhere. Broken hearts are for assholes, thanks to the snotty sommeliers.

AC- I notice you mention sommeliers. Certainly they had them in your day?

FZ- Man, when we’d play London or Paris and stay in the top places, in their dining room they always had a geezer with a big silver cup around his neck. He’d come over and take some of our wine and tell us if it was ok to drink. I figured he was trying to keep us from being poisoned, after what happened in Berlin in 1979. Then I found out he was a wine tester. He was pretty snooty too. But there was a lot of motherly love too.

AC- So what you are saying is that the snooty, or snotty sommelier, isn’t just a current phenom, but something that has been around for a while?

FZ- Oh sure, but in the day, the guy with the silver cup necklace would know about mainstream stuff. Now these guys, if you ask for a sweet red wine, they think you’re asking for Lacrima di Morro d'Alba passito. As if these guys even know what that crap is. They barely know anyway the wind blows. But they think they have to have the “gotcha” answer. I say, don’t drink the orange wine and don’t eat the yellow snow.

AC- Not all of them are like that, Frank. There are a lot of hard working, diligent ones too.

FZ – Look, AC, some of these guys are treacherous cretins; the best thing they could do would be to get out of the business. The torture never stops. The old guy with the tux and the silver goblet hanging from his neck is easy meat - clowns on velvet. And the “gotcha” snotty sommelier is next in line for extinction. They should be pouring maple syrup over at St. Alfonzo’s pancake breakfast. I’m not satisfied.






written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

3 comments:

  1. Sorry, but this is not fair to Frank, who was strongly against drug use (and also against drug regulation but that's not the point here) and did not drink alcohol.

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  2. Tricky AC, very tricky.

    They were only in it for the money.

    http://www.dweezilzappaworld.com/photos/2033594

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  3. Anonymous - Did you even read this post? It's an April 1st post..get it?

    And please, let's all use our real names here while we are calling out people...have a little courage, Anon..

    ReplyDelete