Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

Monks, dirt and wine

In the 13th century, monks in Burgundy were in the habit of taking a spoonful of vineyard dirt and taste it to assess the quality of the vineyard.
Or so they tell me.
Me, I am a geologist, and I’ve seen colleagues taste oil to assess its maturation, so I’m not surprised at anything anyway.

Monk_tasting_wine_from_a_barrelThe interesting fact is this: in Medieval times, French monks had lots of land at their disposal, and in Burgundy they had set up vineyards as far as the eye could see. The climate was favorable, and the monks liked their wine anyway.
But a monk back then had a lot of spare time to observe nature, and so the good Benedictines and Cistercians started noticing trends. Vineyards that were more productive, vineyards in which a certain kind of vine thrived while another suffered, and so on.
They started calling these different parcels of land terroir – and started experimenting to define what made one parcel different from the next. Hence, the idea of sampling and tasting the dirt. Continue reading


1 Comment

Two Bottles of Wine and a Box of Biscuits

avventurieriLast night I did a presentation based on my first ebook, Avventurieri sul Crocevia del Mondo – an informal look at the history of the Silk Road and at the weird chaps that ran along it between the First and the Second World War.

The venue was the hall of the UniTre – the Senior Citizens University – of Incisa Scapaccino, a town roughly three kilometers from where I live.

I did a two hoours gig, the audience was well pleased and entertained and I was asked to do some more presentations on a number of subjects.
It was done pro bono – actually, it was done for two bottles of fine wine and a box of local pastries.

Now, I’ve been called a few weird names – online, mostly – because I do this sort of free gigs, and yet I often affirm the writer must be paid.
Some have called this a double standard.
I do not think it is – the fact that I am doing free voluntary service for my community, basically paying back the welcome I have ben given in these hills when I moved from the big city, does not make me particularly dishonest when I ask a fair price for my work.
Two bottles of fine wine and a box of biscuits is a fair price for my time, in this particular situation, as it is the warmth of the welcome that was given to me.
I’m liable to ask higher fees when dealing with a publisher – it’s not that weird, I think.

And yet, some people do not seem to understand.
Usually, they are those requiring professional services for free.

Enhanced by Zemanta