Exploring Venice you might end up in an alley with a misleading name “Magazen”. In Italian the word makes you think of a storehouse. In Venetian the word is instead connected to the practice of drinking wine.
In the Middle Ages the Venetian had the merit to turn the drinking of wine into a status symbol: a beverage that for many years was more associated to religion, became a gift to rulers and was served during important banquets, thus becoming a product that you could not be left without it.
The barges transporting the wine barrels were docking at the Rialto, at the Riva del Vin, where they had to wait for inspection by the custom officers, who then gave the authorization for the unloading and storage of the barrels after they had reckoned their contenents.
The equivalent of today bars started to spread all around the town, each with their specific characteristics.
The magazeni were responsible for the sale of local wine and served by the jug rather by the glass and were frequented by the lower class.
The malvasie served rather more high-quality wine: the refined sweet wines from the East, also named “shipped wines”.
The malvasie had also some restrictions: they could not host card-plying and they could not advertise their presence with a sign so the owners simply began to identify their business with branches of laurel, which became their trademark.
The Malvasie were also recognizible by a particular sort of interior made with wine barrels used as elegant tables by their customers, exactly as you can still find today if you decide to melt into the Venetian dolce vita.
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Favero, C. ed., Venice and Viticulture. Wines and Wines: the legacy of the Venetian Republic, Biblos Edizioni, Cittadella (PD), 2014.