Fermentation and Aging Containers

Oak, Glass, Plastic, and Stainless Steel wine container must be sturdy enough for the purpose and not likely to introduce negative changes to the wine quality. Size is important, depending on the winemaker’s capacity to move heavy containers. Other considerations include cost, convenience, inertness, cleaning, sanitation, and availability. OAK BARRELS Oak barrels hold a special place among wine containers. Only wood is chosen to deliberately make changes in the beverage. All other containers are valued for being inert. In the ancient world, clay amphorae were used to store and transport wine. While some Mesopotamian societies used barrels made of palm wood, it is hard to bend and never became widely used. As amphora-using Romans advanced into Northern Europe, they encountered Gauls using oak barrels for beer. Recognizing that oak was pliable enough to bend and its tight grain structure could make water-tight containers, the Romans began using oak barrels for wine. The barrels were lighter and stronger than amphorae and became a major technological advance, leading to the end of commercial amphora use within about 200 years. Most wine barrels