“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.

River City

TAYLOR: When standards slip, families flee and in comes the seedy crowd. You got trouble, my friends.
LORELAI: Right here in River City!

A reference to the 1962 musical film The Music Man, adapted from the hit 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, written by Meredith Willson. Directed by Morton DaCosta, and with Robert Preston in the title role, the film is set in River City, Iowa (based on Mason City) in 1912.

The film is about a conman named Harold Hill who tries to swindle a town by claiming he is raising funds to pay for a marching band. In the song Ya Got Trouble, Harold convinces the townspeople that the pool hall is seducing their boys into sin and vice so that they will sink money into the marching band to save them. The song says repeatedly, “Ya got trouble right here in River City!”.

The Music Man was the #5 film of 1962, and won an Academy Award for its score. Critically acclaimed, it is regarded as one of the best musical films of all time. It was filmed on the same Warner Brothers lot as Gilmore Girls.

Zinnias

Taylor bemoans the fact that Luke won’t beautify his diner, and suggests that some pots of zinnias outside would freshen the place up.

Zinnias are colourful long-stemmed flowers which are members of the sunflower family. They are native to an area which stretches from the south-west of the United States to South America, with most species originating in Mexico.

Pinging in the brain

Rory complains that her brain “pinged” or “dinked” while she was studying. It sounds like tinnitus, a fairly common condition where you hear phantom noises such as clicking, hissing, or roaring – these often seem to emanate from inside your head.

It can be brought on by stress, which fits with Rory studying hard to the point her head hurts. She never complains of it again, suggesting that the condition spontaneously resolved, which isn’t uncommon with tinnitus.

Hypochondria

RORY: Can brains hurt?
LORELAI: Yes, it’s hypochondria hour.

Hypochondria is a condition where a person is overly worried about having a serious illness, and become extremely concerned about even mild symptoms in the fear that they are a sign of a life-threatening condition. In many cases, their anxiety about their health actually produces the symptoms they are worried about, such as headaches, stomach pains, dizziness, weight loss, or fatigue. It is now called “illness anxiety disorder”.

Dean and Donna Reed

Dean makes himself unpopular with Lorelai and Rory when he says it seems nice that Donna Reed likes cooking for her family and that she seems happy to do so. Even the most ardent Dean fan must feel at this point that he and Rory are not perfectly suited to each other. He receives short shrift from the two Gilmores, and in the end is stifled into silence, with a “Hey, I’m not saying anything”.

Apart from showing a serious discrepancy in the values of Rory and Dean, it also demonstrates how Lorelai and Rory don’t allow the men in their lives to have any say in things. When Dean first came to a movie night at their house, he was basically told he wasn’t allowed to choose the movie, and had to run any suggestion past Lorelai (as he picked an inappropriate movie, it didn’t seem unjustified at the time).

But now he isn’t even allowed to voice an opinion on what the Gilmores are watching. It raises the question of what role Dean has in Rory’s life: is he just there to bring pizza, look handsome, kiss her, tell her she’s pretty, phone her fifty times a day, and agree with everything she says? Even Donna Stone got to do a lot more than that!