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Your Questions


Can you tell me why Chianti Classico often has the symbol of a Black Rooster on the neck of the bottle?

John Clarke, Tempe, NSW

According to legend, in the 13th century the cities of Siena and Florence fought over the vineyards of Chianti. To end the dispute, two knights – one from each city – were chosen to ride out and where they met each other would form the boundary of the region. It was agreed the knights could only depart their city once the first rooster crowed. The black rooster of Florence, which had been starved for several days, crowed way before dawn (presumably it was hungry), so the Florentine knight rode out earlier than his Sienese counterpart. He met his opponent only 20km from Siena and so claimed the Chianti region for Florence.

The rooster (Gallo Nero) has been adopted as the official mascot by
the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico. It appears on all bottles of Chianti Classico DOCG as the official seal of authenticity.


We’re planning on visiting some local wine regions,
but can you explain what the acceptable etiquette is at tastings in light of Covid-19? Is it still alright to use a spittoon? Can you pick up bottles to look at labels?

Naomi Dixon, Gold Coast, Qld

The situation surrounding Covid-19 changes almost daily, so be guided by each individual cellar door. Wineries are very strict on health and safety protocol, and this flows through to the cellar door; staff there will have been briefed on the best way to conduct tastings for their customers. Washing your hands well before beginning tasting would be good protocol. Why not ask to be shown the labels rather than picking up the bottles? I’d try to keep hold of my own tasting glass so that I didn’t share it with anyone. At the end of tasting, perhaps ask where to put your used glass (rather than leave it lying around).


What is most important to take into consideration when matching wine to food, the colour or the weight of the wine?

Alicia Dorie, Strathalbyn, SA

Ageing designations on a Spanish wine label refer to the amount of time that wine has been matured prior to release. In increasing order of age, the cosecha, crianza, reserva and gran reserva categories have specific minimum requirements for both time spent in barrel and in bottle. There are also defined region-specific rules. Rioja- or Ribera del Duero-labelled ‘reserva’ will have been aged for a minimum of 36 months (12 months must have been in barrel) whereas those labelled ‘gran reserva’ will have been aged for 60 months (24 months in barrel). These terms can also apply to rosé and white wines, though the ageing requirements are usually less.‘Roble’ is the Spanish word for oak, so wines labelled this way will have spent a little bit of time in barrel but not enough to make much of an impact.

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