“See this guy on the label?” Frank Piazza asked. On the label was a blue photo of a guy posing in a manner that must have been trademarked by James Dean – sitting on a set of steps, one foot resting higher than the other, arms leaning lazily the way only a carefree young man would.
Of course it was. The last time we were approached by an older gentleman who claimed it was his younger self on a wine bottle’s label, we were at a wine store in Brooklyn and the man was a goon in one of the older Godfather movies. How appropriate that we’d hear the same line again, but this time, in a non-descript warehouse in Staten Island beside an adult video store. Should we have started looking over our shoulders?
Instead Frank Piazza took it upon himself to sit us down and demonstrate the “proper” way to taste wine. Other than the usual nosing and legs examination, he prompted us to take a bit of wine a keep it for a few seconds in the front of our mouths, pooling around our bottom incisors.
“Okay,” he said, “now slowly move your tongue around it, then swallow.”
As he predicted our tongue split into several parts, the sides tingling from the acid of the wine, the tip from the sweetness, the back from the bitterness. I had never tasted wine like this before, and being no connoisseur, a new way was welcome. (Of course after further reading, apparently the existence of the tongue map is insgnificant, but I still thought it was pretty cool to demarcate the areas of your tongue with a sip of wine.)
After the class a whole roasted pig was served, and he cut it so expertly that I began to doubt the expertise of the butchers I watched in my homeland.