Coronavirus pandemic brings back 'wine windows' that were used during the Plague

Over in Tuscany, a vintage approach to social distanced drinking has made a return in answer to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wine windows – used in the midst of the Plague so people could sell wine without having to touch the infected lower classes – are back in Florence, where more than 150 wine windows have been reopened to serve up glasses of wine, cocktails and gelato.

Is it a little troubling that we’re bringing back something popularised by the Plague? Yes, yes it is.

But a hygienically handled Aperol Spritz still feels worth celebration.

The windows, or buchette del vino, are looked after by an official body, the Wine Window Association, who say on their website: ‘Everyone is confined to home for two months and then the government permits a gradual reopening.

‘During this time, some enterprising Florentine Wine Window owners have turned back the clock and are using their Wine Windows to dispense glasses of wine, cups of coffee, drinks, sandwiches and ice cream — all germ-free, contactless!’

The website documents how the in-the-wall hatches went out of fashion post-1600s, comparing 2020 to the Plague times with a side-by-side comparison of the windows in action.

Now, with Covid-19 giving contactless booze handovers a new importance, the association wants to raise awareness of the history of wine windows and add in plaques to those that have survived the years.

Matteo Faglia, president of the Wine Window Association, told Insider: ‘People could knock on the little wooden shutters and have their bottles filled direct from the Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli families, who still produce some of Italy’s best-known wine today.

‘The wine windows gradually became defunct, and many wooden ones were permanently lost in the floods of 1966.

‘We want to put a plaque by all the wine windows, as people tend to respect them more when they understand what they are and their history.’

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