Cheating with a rooster
If you’ve ever had a bottle of Chianti, and chances are you have, you’ve probably noticed the black rooster. The mark that tells you that this is a wine from the heart of Tuscany, a true Chianti Classico.
But what is the story behind it?
As always, we’re in a fairly intricate world of fact and myth mixed together. But the narrative is as follows:
The two cities of Florence and Sienna have long fought for domination of the area. We are in the Middle Ages and Italy is not yet a unified country, but consists of a number of city-states. Chianti is already an important wine region that brings in a lot of money, which makes it quite important to determine who really owns the area, Florence or Sienna.
It is decided that the border will be drawn by peaceful means and that it will be decided by a chivalric race. On a given day, a knight from each city will set off when a chosen rooster crows, and where these knights meet, there the border will be drawn. The idea is that they should meet roughly in the centre and thus divide the area relatively fairly between them.
Sienna chooses a white rooster and Florence a black one. So far so good, but….where the Siennas look after their rooster and take good care of it, the Florentines choose a starving rooster instead.
So when the day of the competition dawns, the white Sienna rooster crows at dawn as the sun rises. But Florence’s black rooster has been awake for a long time – he’s hungry! And crows much earlier.
This means that Florence’s knight has already been on horseback for a long time when Sienna’s knight leaves, and the two meet much closer to Sienna than originally intended, and almost the entire district falls to Florence.
To commemorate this, a genuine Chianti is still adorned with a black rooster, a Gallo Nero!
What happened to the crowing roosters the story does not tell. But we will forever remember him every time we drink a bottle of Chianti