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Born in the 14th century, the flask is synonymous with Chianti and aspires to return to Italian tables.
The ” woven” history of Chianti wine flask
One of the symbols of Chianti wineand of the territory where it is produced, is certainly the “fiasco”, that bulging glass container, today fallen into disuse, but whose history is strictly connected to “our” wine. Its origins probably date back to the 14th century, thanks to a provision that in those years forbade in the Grand Duchy of Florence the use of metal containers for bottling oil and wine.
So the master glassmakers in the area of Valdelsa, San Gimignano and Empoli set to work blowing the bubble glass and giving life to the flask (from the Germanic word flaskun).
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The precious work of the “fiascaie”
However, the need to protect the delicate container soon emerged: therefore, an external envelope of straw was therefore added, made of a marsh grass, the “stiancia”, common along the Arno and Elsa rivers (easily moldable and with a very resistant fiber) all made by hand by the so-called “fiascaie”.
The framing of the straw, which was vertical in the area of Florence and horizontal in that of Siena, allowed a safer transport without the need to use large boxes and a better preservation. The flask began to spread everywhere and thus became “the” container par excellence of Chianti wine, present on noble and humble tables, in cellars and fairs.
The bottle: technique and image evolution for Chianti wine
The huge spreading of flasks also had a negative effect on Chianti wine, whose reputation as a fine wine got damaged relegating it to a wine good for every occasion, of wide consumption and, therefore, of low quality. The progressive loss of prestige was fortunately interrupted by the passage of the Bordeaux bottle, smaller in size and therefore easier to transport, which has now become an essential element in the marketing of wine.
In fact, bottle and label have acquired so much value and importance for the wine market that the image of the winery and the quality of the wine are often projected on them. The flask is scarcely used nowadays, although some typical producers are trying to bring it back in vogue.
Its memory is still connected to linguistic expressions or to traditional dishes, such as “fagioli al fiasco” (beans in a flask), in which legumes are cooked on the grill just inside one of these containers.
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Some information is taken from Enrico Fiori’s book “Il Chianti dalla A alla Z”.