Wine, please!

In Italy, an old custom is being revived and it dates back to the days of the bubonic plague. Buchette del vino (aka wine window) has made a comeback during the coronavirus pandemic. These small hatch-like openings were used in Italy during the14th century and were a way for merchants to sell their wine to customers without having to have direct contact.

The little wooden doors are set into walls; some are little hatches in larger doors, while others are filled with glass that opens. They are unique to the Florence and Tuscany areas.

wine window
Courtesy of Buchette del Vino (Facebook)

In medieval times, folks would knock on the little doors and the merchants would take their empty bottles and fill them with wine. Some of those original winemaker families of the area are still making award-winning wine today. The windows have not been used regularly since the 1600s, however, that seems to be changing. 

Back in 2015, an effort began to catalog all the surviving wine windows in Italy and place a historical plaque next to them. The Associazione Buchette del Vino (Wine Windows Association) was formed in Florence to share the history of these windows with a younger generation. Now, the wine windows are being used for their original purpose of passing goods through to customers to avoid direct contact. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only one window was still known to actively be used for its original purpose. Since the pandemic hit, however, many more have reopened and have been serving wine, coffee, ice cream, and other goods. 

wine window with books
Courtesy of Buchette del Vino (Facebook)

The Associazione Buchette del Vino does not have an exact count of how many wine windows are still in existence, but it does provide updates on new wine windows that are being reopened on its social media pages.

“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,” Matteo Faglia, president and founding member of the 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."

Italy was hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down the entire country at one point. Now on the road to recovery, the use of these wine windows is just one of the changes that the pandemic brought. It's a creative way to bring back a custom of the past, that fits right in with what is happening in the world right now. All we can hope is that the custom continues until we can get ourselves over to Florence to try one!

Wine windows are not the only old tradition seeing new life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 1,000-year-old flour mill in England that had been out of production and used as a museum began running again to help with the flour shortage caused by the pandemic. 

What do you think about these wine windows? Comment below.