“Italians’ feet”

LORELAI Mmm. Kick-ass wine.
EMILY: How poetic.
LORELAI: It’s got a nice smell: earthy, vibrant. I can taste the Italians’ feet.

Lorelai is referring to grape-stomping or pieage, a traditional winemaking technique where the grapes are crushed by human feet – evidence of the practice can be found in pictures from ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. Since the Middle Ages this part of the winemaking process is nearly always done by machinery, and even in ancient times there were wine presses to do most of the work.

However, grape stomping has never been completely abandoned, and survives in small pockets. These days it is often a fun event at cultural festivals and wine festivals, and some vineyards will charge you for the pleasure of partaking in the activity.

The popular idea of grape stomping being part of the winemaking process can probably be traced back to I Love Lucy. In the 1956 episode Lucy’s Italian Movie, while on a trip to Rome a film producer suggests Lucy audition for his new movie called Bitter Grapes. Lucy thinks it must be about winemaking, so finds the only winery left in the area that still makes wine using grape-stomping so she can practice the technique in advance.

This probably explains why Lucy-loving Lorelai immediately connects the wine to Italian feet in particular.

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