Monday, April 4, 2011

a drink with alex: interview with Gianluca from "In Vino Veritas"

 Gianluca from In Vino Veritas 74th and First ave.

(More photos to follow)

I am a lucky man because I am a fan of red wine and the best/ coolest looking wine store in NYC is a hop skip and a jump from my front door on 74th street. In Vino Veritas first drew my attention because it is the nicest looking wine store i have ever seen and the owners and employees are great people. I like to support places in which I like the people, I believe in voting with your wallet and I try not to shop at places where I dont like the service or people and if everyone did this people would wise up quick in this world would get a bit better. I stop in the store almost daily to shoot the breeze (no I am not buying wine everyday, I work to hard for that much drinking) Overtime I started to learn about the history of the place and the family and it is a really cool story, plus they let me photograph their old wine keg to use in my mural work. Here is the interview with one of the owners and a friend, Gianluca.

 1) How long have you had the store?--The History...

We have had the store for 14 years this April. It was actually the first liquor store to open up in Manhattan after Prohibition.My brother actually met a guy who started working here March 1934 and he recalled a story when he got robbed while on the toilet! Anyway, my father took over the store and made it look the way it does. Most people do not know the real New York. It was crazy.The liquor stores were junk yards. They were very ugly. There were maybe a handful of ok looking stores but my father was definitely the first to make a wine store in New York with this look. People thought he was crazy and it would never work. For the first few years after we opened, we have had hundreds of people coming in to take pictures. Actually, they still do. I can take you on a tour of the city and show you who copied what from my father. He has vision.

2) Are you still a fan of wine or do you get sick of working around it like people who work in candy stores that dont eat candy anymore?
I love wine and cannot live without it. But it has been prostituted and as I said years ago...the wide base has been aiming towards a triangle like point. Too many people have one type of wine they want to make, or copy. So after a while, it all starts tasting the same. This is EXACTLY how the future of the world will be. Monotonous mediocrity. But I do not give up on Love. I made my vows.

3) Can you give a quick overview of the wines you like and how they vary from other wines etc. ?

I will be 100% honest. While I love all wines, NOTHING compares to Italian wines. It's numerically impossible. There are too many. And the quality is great all around. I am not saying this just because I am Italian. Italians suck at golf and anything having to do with organizing. I am only stating the obvious. Italian wines are regional, as are the cuisines of Italy. For thousands of years, the wines and foods (as well as people, dialects, mannerisms etc) have married and intertwined harmoniously. No other culture comes close to matching that union. when I talk like this, some people mistake it for arrogance but a) I don't care what people think and b) I only state facts and I understand my certitude heightens people's anxieties and insecurities.

4) How about some history on your Dad? (if he approves)
...fascinating guy.
My father leaves people amazed. He remains as humble as his beginnings. But from then 'til now, he's had quite a life.  I would like to say that whatever he has done and however he goes about his life, he has always been extremely generous and helpful.  He is the type of guy who would run the race for you and just before reaching the finish line, give you a chance to catch up and let you win. Professionally, he is one of the world's best hairdressers and charges next to nothing. When I see people who try to book celebrity hairdressers who charge 300 a pop ( or whatever....I do not know, I am bald), I laugh because they are ecstatic about getting the hair cut by someone who cuts Angelina  Jolie's hair. The people who go to my father are the ones who pay Angelina Jolie. And they ask my father for advice!!!!! He has a way of dealing with people which is remarkable.  People used to pay to watch him do hair shows. That was the 60's. A lot happened then.  He later opened a hugely successful restaurant, which my cousins worked very hard to operate and still do, along with two others.  He also managed to get involved with Manhattan real estate. He still wakes up at 4:30 am with no alarm clock, as if he never left his poor town in Italy. He always told my brother and me that the difference between him and us is that he never grew up with Coca Cola. We never really drank it, but he meant it symbolically.  Everyone who meets my father is left amazed, but my father would never credit anything or anyone except his work ethic. 

5) Whats the trend in wine right now?
Right now, Malbec from Argentina is very big. It has been for a while, but ever since the Economy shut down, we saw a spike in interest and sales. In terms of trends, we try to stay away from them. My brother and I love what we offer and we would not want to cheapen the products by caving in to trends and parade them around for profit. After all, we are not pimps !!!

6) Whats your idea of the perfect wine and food pairing?
The most important thing when it comes to wine and food pairing is HISTORY. There is a REASON people have done things certain ways for thousands of years. It's cool to test new things, but they usually end up not working out. IF IT AIN'T NEW, DON'T FIX IT !

7) What can you tell me about the book you wrote? Still available?
I wrote the book when I was 24 and have since sold a healthy amount, taking in much more than 99% of authors do. I self published. I was hesitant because "self published" does have a bad image, but I am a business man.... and I'll be damned if I not only have to lose money, but change my art in the process. I found out last year, the company that published it is M.I.A. and owes many of its authors money. I have to now RE-DO the whole book with another company. So far, there has been little time to even urinate, so the book will have to wait. Oh, and the book came off as if Rocky Balboa wrote it. I meant it that way because I know how much people fear wine. Some people jumped on it and claimed it was written poorly, but I did it that way on purpose. It takes more to write  it poorly ON PURPOSE than well. On the bright side, I still meet people to this day that tell me that of the many books they read and classes they attended, not one has been as helpful as my book, "Wine Made Easy". I did my job.

8) You must know the entire hood: the good the bad and the ugly.
I know everyone in this neighborhood...and boy do I have great stories. I grew up here so I am used to it and never stop and think about it.

9) Favorite artists? Your brother is a good man, is it tough working with siblings?
Favorite artists? Does Gardega count, or would that be biased? hahahaha.  
Well it depends how art is defined. If defined traditionally, meaning paintings, sculpture, and architecture, then I would say:
Picasso (for the EXACT opposite reason college girls like him), De Chirico, Duchamp, Pisarro, Mucha, Carvaggio, Cezanne, Degas, Balla, Boccioni,Durer, Magritte,Renoir, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dali', Matisse, Rodin etc etc. love Jasper Johns, right?
As for cinema: Ingmar Bergmann, Fellini, Lumet etc etc
As for writers: Friedman, Sowell, Arthur Schartz etc etc
As for artists in genreal (meaning I respect them for even how they breathe): the person who lives to learn and loves to express what they learn.

Working with my brother is great. We agree on a lot of things and I love him. I never have to worry about him taking money from the register or pissing in the corner.

10) Am I the craziest artist you sell wine to?
I actually DO NOT think you're crazy. At all. 
I think this world is crazy. I think many people are crazy for denying themselves the Truth.
So you and I, my friend, ...we look like we're crazy.

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