Wine Fountains in Italy

When most of us think of drinking fountains, we’re probably envisioning the kind you’d find at schoolyard playgrounds in our younger years—a fountain that bears not lowly H20, but a never-ending stream of pinot noir. That rose-tinted vision has, for the time being, more or less become a reality: In Italy, one vineyard has built a fountain that dispenses locally made wine to the public for free 24 glorious hours a day.

The fountain was built by Dora Sarchese, a vineyard in central Italy known for its Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, as a joint effort with a local non-profit and the Cammino di San Tommaso (aka the Way of St. Thomas), a pilgrimage route that sees thousands of religious pilgrims and tourists trek to Ortona each year to visit a cathedral where the remains of Jesus’ disciple are kept. The vineyard says the fountain is designed to be a welcome and incentive to pilgrims and tourists, not a boozy trap to get people drunk or cause trouble.

Visitors can fill up a glass with the spout on the side of the fountain, or pick up a bottle from a nearby kiosk. The dispensed wine is the same as what you’d find in a store, but because it’s being poured directly into the glass, it gets exposed to more oxygen, which makes for a fresher tasting beverage. The vineyard also says that this method of serving is more environmentally friendly than bottled or glass-served wine, because it reduces waste and prevents corks from being wasted.

While the fountain is a first for Italy, there are Wine Fountains popping up all over Europe, and Slovenia even installed a beer fountain earlier this year. But this is the first fountain of its kind to have a continuous flow, so it’s definitely causing some buzz (though for now the wine will only be available during special events and occasions).

In addition to providing thirsty travelers with a tasty beverage, the wine fountain also provides visitors with an interesting look at how wine is served in a different part of the world. The fountain uses the same technology as sparkling water fountains, and the wine is filtered through carbon filters to keep impurities out of the drink.

Wine fountains can also serve a practical purpose in the Jewish community, as they provide a safe and convenient way to share Kiddush wine at Shabbat meals. Traditionally, hosts hand out their own personal cups to friends and family members during the meal, which can be uncomfortable and lead to awkward situations if someone’s cup is dropped or spilled on. In contrast, the wine fountain allows everyone to pour their own glass from a central source and avoid unhygienic situations.

The vineyard says it’s already seen a big boost in business since the fountain opened, and it hopes to expand to other parts of the country and eventually bring the concept to the U.S. Until then, we’ll just have to dream of those bottomless glasses of vino.

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