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Yesterday I promised myself to publish an article about pairing red wine and fish, but when I took an hour off from writing I found myself watching a movie on Netflix called Self-Made: The Life of Madam CJ Walker. Maybe I was born with the myth of the Self-Made-Man (or maybe it would be better to say Woman?), I found this film of great inspiration. A beautiful interpretation of Octavia Spencer (who I had already enjoyed in The Divergent series) as Sarah Breedlove, America's first self-made millionaire woman… black too, at a time when her parents and siblings were still slaves on plantations. It goes without saying that I have not finished the article - which I will publish tomorrow - and I have decided that today, for Women's Day, I want to share with you a reflection on women and in particular on the Women of wine.

A small premise ...

This morning both Elisa Gubellini and Franco Ziliani sent me an article on whatsapp that Franco published on his blog that reports a beautiful piece of Elisa written for him, which I share in large part. I find myself in many things she said: except in exceptional cases (such as almost lost trains etc) I never left the house without my hair in order, perfectly made up and nails lacquered with a perfect almond shape. Indeed, I confess that the enamel eaten also makes me a little disgusting. Unlike her, I hate heels because I like walking a lot and being comfortable. I didn't put on heels even on my wedding day: I chose a pair of jeweled ballet flats from Geox and only because my mom looked at me badly when I thought about putting on my flip-flops. Birkenstock. Even the wedding dress I chose short: do you know that browns go to the bathroom with the train? Not to mention the dirt that sticks to us! However, I never left the house with a bag that didn't match shoes. A naturally signed bag: I've never bought a bag at the market. Of course I prefer Orciani's leather or Max Mara's Pasticcino Bag to a plastic Louis Vuitton, but the concept doesn't change. And yes, I go to the vineyard with the black coconut sneakers paired with the bag. 

And here is a photo of my wedding in which you can see the dancers ... in the face of Self-Made!  

chiara bassi wedding

Aesthetically, I really like myself - despite a few extra kilos - and this helps to make me very confident. But what makes me particularly sure of myself is my intelligence and the person I am today, despite everything. In exactly 2 months I will turn 36 and it is an age where some sum can actually be pulled. Today I am exactly where I would like to be: I'm writing on my wine blog in Monte Isola, the beautiful island in the heart of Lake Iseo where I live with my husband Francesco and my old volpino Paco. I do the job of my dreams and not by birthright: I have earned a place of respect in the world of wine by studying a lot, always questioning myself and staying focused even when success seemed light years away. On my side I had my father who always believed in me even when a project went wrong. My dad taught me that real failure is not trying. My father taught me that I am full of talent and can go anywhere. My dad taught me that real failure is standing still and waiting for things to magically come by themselves. My father taught me not to complain. My father taught me that if I want something I have to take it.

Today I haven't crossed the finish line yet, but I have certainly taken the right path and now I just have to take one step after another to get where I want. As a woman of wine I do not feel discriminated against at all. Of course, I see sons and daughters of art having a downhill road compared to me, who for years have been struggling uphill. Just as I see phenomena that every day look for shortcuts to do first. But I'd be lying if I told you that deep down I care about something: as you probably understand, I do grissini mine and my highest aspiration is to keep making them without others breaking them.

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Self-Made: Madam CJ Walker and yesterday's battles

Madam CJ Walker was the fifth of 6 children and as I anticipated her parents and siblings were slaves working on a Louisiana plantation in Robert W. Burney who owned thousands of acres and about 60 slaves. Coinciding with her birth, the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect and she was free, even if only on paper, at least for the first few years. He could not study because Louisiana was too poor to be able to maintain public schools. In the same years she was orphaned and at 14 she was forced to marry to escape the mistreatment of her brother-in-law with whom she lived. At 20 she was already a widow with a little girl. She worked as a washerwoman for white families who did not fail to treat her very badly and remind her that she was worth nothing as a black woman far from the canons of beauty of the time. In 1894 she married an idiot who within a few years began to betray her, to get drunk and to shit all the money in gambling. When he came home he found time to beat her. He hardly got out of this relationship in 1903 and lost almost all of his hair, between stress and lack of running water to wash regularly. After a period of great insecurity she tried a magic ointment that cured her scalp and her hair began to grow back. From there she first decided to sell the product that had saved her, then to create her own product. After a series of battles, including the one with her third husband CJ Walker who had cheated on her with one of his agents, she managed to transform her workshop in the basement of her home into a large industry and at her death in 1919 she had a fortune of 600.000 dollars. , equal to 6 million euros today.

madame cj walker self made

Self-Made: Today's Battles

My invitation to all women therefore is to be like Madam CJ Walker and to fight for raise our "race" or, rather, our genre. Race is a very bad word that it is time to erase forever from the vocabulary. In 1900, happiness was having a skin chiara and silky hair, once enough - at certain latitudes - to fill the plate. Today being happy is something much more complex, but times have changed and with them the means at our disposal.

It doesn't matter what your dream is, what life you aspire to. The important thing is that you pursue it every day while always remaining independent economically and emotionally. Don't wait for a man to save you or act as a crutch - this is the first secret to unhappiness. I am happy to be married, but my happiness will never depend on my husband. My husband is the person I want to grow old with by sharing the ordinary and the extraordinary. My husband is the person with whom I want to share the sorrows and multiply the joys. But my accomplishment must not depend on my husband. No woman should feel fulfilled just because she is married or has a child - these are ancient legacies that it is time to overcome.

What a woman must accomplish is to have a husband who loves and respects her with whom to eventually build a more or less numerous family. What a woman must accomplish is to have a job that makes her economically independent and consequently free to stay in a relationship out of desire and not out of necessity. What a woman must achieve is to have a passion that she can eventually turn into a job, but not necessarily. What a woman must accomplish is to cultivate deep, intimate relationships with other women. Without envy or jealousy because those are the second secret to unhappiness.

We are all daughters of this time and we are all in the same boat. Actually no, we will never be in the same boat because the family we grew up in made us start from different points. Here, this is something that we can really only accept. Having understood this, it is up to us to define the reflection we want to see in the mirror every day. Every woman should try to be the best version of herself every day without wasting a minute trying to demean another woman. I am reminded of the saying that we women do not dress to please us or other men, we dress so as not to be criticized by other women. What a bad thing! Every woman must be free to be herself. When I hear phrases in 2021 like: “she's only there because she's hot and she has boobs” I get goosebumps. They make me shiver when I hear them from a man, but even more so when I hear them from another woman. I'm a size 3C and I'm anything but busty, but if I wanted more boobs it would be enough to get them back right? Boobs don't make me unique or special, unless I want to be a Pornstar or underwear model. Surely a good presence is a help in any field, but an advantage, small or large, is not enough to win the game. What game do we want to play next?

Stop it, stop it and again stop looking at how other women are dressed / made up / styled and criticizing them to feel better. Feel better about how you pursue your dreams, but staying grounded and always feeling grateful for what you have. We are in the midst of a pandemic and there are femicides every day, today having a stable job that allows you to pay a house, bills and meals is already the first luxury. And if you take it for granted you are just spoiled and capricious little girls who will do little in life. Great women like Madam CJ Walker took nothing for granted: neither wealth nor love. And that's why they were able to rewrite history.

chiara bassi sommelier wine blogger

Self-Made Woman: what have I uncorked for Women's Day?

At this point I can uncork a bottle and dedicate a toast to all the women who struggle every day to build their lives. I chose a wine with a nice pink label, actually fuchsia, but the wine is not rosé… is that okay? Arunda Extra Brut Classic Method Cuvée Marianna disgorgement September 2016. How wonderful! That I love South Tyrolean bubbles is no secret ...

It is made from grapes chardonnay 80% e pinot nero 20%. The vinification is in steel and oak barrels, rests on the lees for 60 months. Dosed 4 g / l, 13% vol, 8.000 bottles produced every year and a cost of around € 24. 

As with almost all wines of this label, I received two samples, same disgorgement. This is why I am happy to first share the tasting that I did in October 2017 and I have included in my Sparkling Wines Guide and then today's one. I find it absolutely interesting and necessary to understand the ability of a classic method sparkling wine to evolve in the bottle.

Cuvée Marianna, Arunda Alto Adige Extra Brut disgorgement 09/2016 tasted October 2017

As I poured it into the glass, I was struck by the really lively perlage, perfect for its finesse, number and persistence. On the nose, beautiful aromas of vanilla, crunchy hazelnuts, orange juice and freshly baked apple strudel. In the mouth it is pleasantly fresh and savory, very intense, at times "aggressive", persistent and important. To be combined with very fatty and tasty cold cuts.

Cuvée Marianna, Arunda Alto Adige Extra Brut disgorgement 09/2016 tasted March 2021

It has a deep straw yellow with bright gold reflections. Very fine, numerous and persistent perlage. Poured into the glass it seems to have come out "yesterday". And for me, who am a lover of dated shades, this is already starting very, very well. The nose is a riot of honey, crunchy almonds and dried fruit in general, fruit cake with custard, candied orange peel, butter and dried roses. In the mouth it is consistent, savory, very fresh, with a still crunchy and very persistent bubble. Perfect on its own, I'll pair it tonight with sea bream stuffed with dried fruit and orange!

Cheers to all women with a capital "D" and to all men who treat them as queens.


PS If you want to read Ziliani's piece on Elisa Gubellini's press release for Women's Day click HERE.

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