Should South Africa introduce wine windows like Italy?
Wine windows are making a comeback. The trend started in the 1600s during the Italian Plague to social distance buyers from sellers. Fast forward to 2020 and the wine window craze is slowly starting to resurface.
Many wineries, gelaterias and bars throughout Italy are serving customers using wine windows or buchette del vino as they're known in Italian. The windows offer social distancing and allow businesses to stay open. Mary Forrest, one of the founding members of the Associazione Buchette del Vino, or Wine Windows Association, told Atlas Obscura that five or six restaurants in Florence have reactivated their wine windows during the pandemic.
Besides serving wine, these trendy spots are also serving gelato, coffee and tantalising cocktails. Scholar Massimo Casprini said it allowed for people to social distance.
"The window was closed with a wooden panel, the customer would knock with the knocker, and the wine merchant inside would take the empty bottle and fill it. That meant no direct contact," he told The Bangkok Post.
With its rising popularity, one wonders whether South African establishments should follow suit. While the sale of alcohol is banned in South Africa, it could help the wine industry during these tough times if government amends the regulations.
The chief executive of Franschhoek Wine Valley and Tourism, Reinher Behrens, loved the idea but did not think it was the right fit for South Africa.
"It's a lovely idea, but it's very Italian. It works well with Italian buildings and the country has narrow streets, and often restaurants or tasting rooms would only have a door to the street.
"I can’t see it finding traction in SA given that our environment is different. Also, with hopefully lifting of the restrictions, wine windows will not be necessary if all protocols are observed," he said.
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