What is the story behind that rooster on the neck of the wine bottle?

So you may (or may not) have wondered about that rooster on the neck of the wine bottle.  (But if you never wondered, how did you get here?)  There is quite a story that goes with that logo.

Chianti Classico is the area between Florence and Siena in Italy. Way back in the 13th century, the cities of Florence and Siena were fighting over the land that we now know as the Chianti Classico zone. This fueding had gone on for nearly 2 centuries (from 1000 A.D. to roughly 1200). Finally, the two cities had enough, and decided to settle the dispute by a competition. There would be two knights, one from Florence and one from Siena.  Both cities would also pick their own rooster.  The knights would race from each city towards the other at the crow of their picked rooster. Without an easy way to synchronize clocks, this was probably the best way to ensure a fair race…  Or so one would think.

The Sienese chose a well fed white rooster while the Florentines chose a black rooster and starved it for a few days. Poor rooster. Each respective rooster was released. The black rooster from Florence crowed well before sunrise as it was quite stressed from the starvation. The white rooster from Siena didn’t crow until sunrise (as it should have). And each knight, following the rules, left their respective cities as each rooster crowed. Of course the Florentine knight left much earlier and met the Sienese knight about 20 km from the Siena walls.

As agreed, the boundary lines were drawn where the knights met. Thus a majority of the Chianti Classico region was now a part of Florence. And since that time, the black rooster became a symbol of Chianti. Or so the legend goes.

In 1384, the black rooster was branded as the emblem of the League of Chianti. Presently, it is the emblem of the Chianti Classico Consortium. Chianti Classico is a DOCG wine. DOCG wines are tasted by individuals licensed by the government before being bottled and sealed with the DOCG seal. Having a black rooster on the neck of the wine bottle means that the company is a member of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico. This consortium regulates the content and prices of Chianti Classico wines.

The regulations surrounding the creation of these wines have changed in 2006. A wine that is called Chianti Classico must have:

  • At least 80% of the wine in a bottle has to be Sangiovese
  • No white grapes can be blended in
  • Minimum alcohol content for the wines:
    • 12% for regular wines
    • 12.5% for Riserva (reserve) wines
  • Riserva also has to be matured for a minimum of 24 months
  • Riserva wines also have to be aged 3 months in the bottle
Scroll to Top