- LIVE TV
An Italian living in Oslo was “infuriated” at the start of this month when his Norwegian girlfriend came home with a bottle of ‘Mafiozo’ Zinfandel wine.
“As an Italian living here in Norway I found it to be very offensive and demeaning,” Rossano Cherubini, 42, told The Local.
“It’s disgraceful to see a business trying to make a profit this way, you have no idea how infuriated it makes me.”
Cherubini, who works as an archeologist, said the wine, which his girlfriend had bought in a branch of the state-run Vinmonopolet in Oslo, had led to an argument, as she hadn’t seen what the fuss was.
While the Mafia was romanticised in the US and Europe, he explained, in Italy “it tragically plagues tens of thousands of people every day.”
“I have many friends in Sicily who live through the web of organised crime known as mafia every day of their lives,” he said, “and thousands of people have died by the greedy hands of these criminals.”
He was so outraged that he wrote to the company which produces the wine, Concealed Wines from Sweden.
“The only reply I got was really a two-liner saying that they would take this into account when developing this new product,” he complained.
Simon Kallquist, 31, the founder of Concealed Wines, defended the label, arguing that the wine was called ‘Mafiozo’, not Mafioso, and referred to a style of hip-hop singing, rather than to the Italian organised crime group.
“If you search a bit on the internet for Mafiozo, you will see that it’s a hip-hop genre,” he said, laughing.
As for the wine’s label, which features a 1930s Mafia gangster figure, he said he “just thought it was a funny label”.
“I haven’t heard any complaints at all. You’re the first one. More the opposite. Mostly the Norwegian people think that it’s a quite cool label, and they like the red wax top as well.”
Jens Nordahl, head of press for Vinmonopolet, said that the business “understood” Cherubini’s concerns, but was unable to prohibit the sale of the wine, as it was legal under Norwegian law.
Cherubini contacted The Local after reading about Norwegian tourists’ disgust at finding ‘Hitler’ and ‘Mussolini’ wine for sale in an Italian shop.
“Wouldn’t you say that all involved in this are ‘glorifying’ mafia in the same way you suggested those Italian wines do for fascism?” he said.
– The Local