Some thoughts of Francesco Liberati on those who handle wine!!


Francesco Liberati wrote his Il perfetto maestro di casa in 1670 within which details the hierarchical structure of an affluent household and provides details of the clearly delineated responsibilities of the serving members of that household. Little is known of Liberati but he did serve a number of cardinals, including Cardinal Bichi of Siena. Here are a couple of translated snippets about the role of the Cup Bearer, the Sommelier and the Cellerar.  There seems to be a suggestion by Liberati that perhaps the welfare of the house and the well-being of the Master of the house may not have been guaranteed!!


“The Cup Bearer (Il Coppiere) should be refined and trustworthy, with a gravity of person; he supervises wines, waters, cup mats, beakers and containers in the wine cellar.


The Sommelier (Il Bottigliere) will never let his Master drink wines that are not perfectly healthy. He will be supremely clean; he will not let anyone approach the table and vessels he has prepared, and even less will he let anyone drink from the beakers from which the Master normally drinks.  Whenever there are outside guests and banquets he will be careful to bring in several sorts of fresh wine and water, and to put fanciful beakers and a variety of small decanters and vessels on display. If the Master should do to eat in someone else’s house, the Cellarer will bring along the cup mat, decanters and beakers inside a small hamper; he will do the same thing for a trip, bringing a locked chest full of the best wines.

The Cellarer (Il Canovaro o Cantiniere) handles a particular substance which is appreciated by many people, for which reason he will always have chums to let him dispose of it. If he cannot live off it by himself, the casks will quickly be depleted, so that when the tally does not add up he will be reduced to committing fraud and will be ruined. He must not allow revelry in the cellar. He himself must be temperate in his drinking, and should know about wines so as to keep them and distribute them. As he receives them he will sample each of the barrels one by one, checking them against the sample.”




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