Technology Transfer; Changes in the Materials and Containers used to Store and Transport Wine


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Technology Transfer; Changes in the Materials and Containers used to Store and Transport Wine

  1. 1. Technology Transfer; Changes in the Materials and Containers used to Store and Transport Wine Jonathan Musther 2008000046 WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 1
  2. 2. IntroductionFrom the time that grapes are crushed, the fermentation and storage of wine, either forlater consumption or for transportation, requires a certain degree of sophisticatedcontainer technology. At all stages, the containers must be watertight, and apart fromduring fermentation, they should keep gaseous exchange to a minimum (Jackson, 2008).Our evidence for early winemaking comes from archeology. The oldest reliable evidencefor organised wine production is dated to approximately 8,000 years ago, although it hasbeen suggested that the level of organisation indicates that winemaking probably beganmuch earlier. The ancient winery identified at the Areni-1 cave in modern-day Armenia,gives some important insights into the vessels and materials used to ferment and storewine (Kaufman, 2011).Early clay and ceramic vessels have survived well to provide a record of historical winestorage. Animal skin and wooden vessels have survived less well, but some evidenceexists. These technologies were refined and modified over the centuries, particularly bythe Romans. This lead to many vessels we would recognise today, such as large woodencasks and glass bottles (Dal Piaz, 2009). Comparatively recent developments, such asstainless steel and plastics, have dramatically changed the way wine is stored inwineries. The reduction in the cost of glass production has meant that almost all wine isnow eventually stored and transported in glass (Jackson, 2008).This paper will explore the technological changes which have shaped the development ofvessels for wine storage and transportation.WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 2
  3. 3. History of Wine StorageThe oldest substantial evidence for wineproduction exists in the Areni-1 cave inArmenia. This includes a wine press, anda large number of clay vessels, dated toapproximately 8,000 years old. Thisevidence is more substantial thanprevious finds, typically involving vesselscontaining tartaric acid residues. Thevessels in the Areni-1 cave, however, Illustration 1: A clay vessel found in the Areni-1 cave in Armenia. From Kaufman, 2011.contain traces of malvidin, a flavonoidpresent in grapes (Kaufman, 2011).The press consists of a clay trough, in which grapes would be pressed by foot. The juicewould then drain into a large open vat, also made of clay, where fermentation wouldoccur. The clay storage vessels would then be used to store the wine (Owen, 2011).Less reliable evidence for even earlier wine production and storage comes from NorthernChina, where pots containing wine residues were dated to approximately 9,000 yearsold, 1,000 years older than those at Areni-1 (Dal Piaz, 2009).Working clay is an ancient human craft, as is roughly carving stone, and as such it seemslogical that these would be applied to wine production and storage. Throughout Europeand the Mediterranean, evidence of clay vessels and open stone tanks can be found.The stone tanks and troughs were presumably used for pressing and fermentation, whilesmaller, portable clay vessels would be used for storage (Dal Piaz, 2009).Wherever winemaking first occurred, clay remained the material of choice forproduction and storage vessels throughout ancient times. This is likely due to itsabundance, and the ease with which it is worked into watertight containers (Dal Piaz,2009).Clay pots, particularly when unfired, are porous to some degree, allowing some loss ofcontents, but this problem would be overcome in time, as would the problem of sealingthe clay vessels. It is likely that the early vessels were sealed with more clay, andpossibly some wood or reeds (Dal Piaz, 2009).WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 3
  4. 4. As ceramic technology developed, firing became more common, allowing thinner, lighterand stronger, as well as less porous vessels to be produced. The Egyptians experimentedwith many different types of closure for their fired clay vessels, these included cork,wood and fired clay stoppers. All of these, with the possible exception of cork wouldhave been sealed with more soft, unfired clay, as well as resins or waxes (Dal Piaz,2009). The Romans also used resins to seal clay vessels (Plataforma SINC, 2010).By the time the Greek and Romancivilisations rose to prominence,the making of ceramic vessels wasadvanced, with glazing possible,but not routinely practiced. TheGreeks and Romans continued tostore wine in clay vessels, oftencalled amphora, because they wereeconomical to produce andperformed well as storage vessels.The Greeks and later the Romanstraded wine extensively, for whichamphora were well suited.Amphora were often destroyed oncetheir contents were used, as they Illustration 2: Roman wine amphorae. From Middleton,were so cheap to produce. It was 2007.common practice to float a layer of oil (such as olive oil) on top of wine in order toextend the life of the wine (Dal Piaz, 2009). Amphora were often lined with pitch orresin, typically tree resin. This improved their impermeability, as well as flavouring thewine (Johnson, 1989).Despite their continued use of amphora, the Romans were able to produce glass bottles,and had developed various closures, including cork. Glass was more typically used forserving wine, which would be decanted from amphora (Dal Piaz, 2009).The Romans also used barrels, although not as extensively as Amphora. The history ofthe barrel is not very well recorded, partly because barrels tend not to survive. Plinythe Elder wrote that barrels were developed by the Gauls in the Alps, as they could beproduced readily in colder climates where clay was harder to produce. There areWSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 4
  5. 5. suggestions in the writings of Cato the Elder, that wooden casks were known by theRomans before the conquest of Gaul. Cato also suggested that wines made, or stored incasks, were of inferior quality and were suitable for slaves (Dal Piaz, 2009).The Roman use of barrels slowlyincreased as the Empire grew.Typically the Romans liked totransport wine and other goods bywater, using the sea and rivers.Amphora were well suited totransportation by boat, but areawkward and heavy to transport byland. Barrels are lighter andstronger than amphora, they can beeasily rolled and have a longer life Illustration 3: Neumagen Wine Ship - a sculptureexpectancy. By the second century depicting transport of Roman wine, in barrels, on the Mosel river.AD, barrels were extensively usedthroughout the Roman Empire (Dal Piaz, 2009).Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, very little changed in the technology ofwine storage and transport, until the 17th century, when the glass bottle and cork closurewere finally perfected. This development wasnt simply the ability to produce glass andshape cork, but rather the ability to do so economically. The development of bottlestorage allowed delicate, dry wine to be matured (Johnson, 1989).The final development to have huge effects on the storage of wine was stainless steel.Developed in the early 20th century, it wasnt until the 1950s that it began to be used forwine tanks. At the time, most wine tanks were either wooden or concrete, both ofwhich were difficult to keep clean and hygienic. Stainless steel is an ideal material foruse in wine storage due to its corrosion resistance and the ease of cleaning andsanitising (Cooper, 2004).WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 5
  6. 6. Contemporary Wine StorageWine storage is readily divided into four types, fermentation, maturation,transportation, and final packaging. Wine fermentation and maturation vessels aredominated by stainless steel tanks, which vary in size from a few hundred litres, to overa million litres. Tank design varies depending on the specific use. For example red winefermentors typically have large access at the top, and large manways at the bottom,while white wine fermentors typically have narrow top openings, and small manways.Some wineries still make use of wooden or concrete fermentation vessels (Jackson,2008).After fermentation, wines are either matured in stainless steel tanks or wooden barrels.Again, large wooden vessels and concrete tanks are still used, but stainless steel andsmall barriques dominate (Brostrom & Brostrom, 2008).Wine is typically tranported from the winery for distribution to retail outlets, it is rarelysold exclusively from the winery premises. This final transportation is often of bottledproduct, but otherwise it may be transported in bulk for bottling elsewhere, possiblyafter certain other operations. For bulk transportation within the same country, wine isusually transported by stainless steel tanker. For longer distance, particularlyinternational transport, advanced plastic bladders can be used inside conventional steelshipping containers. These provide comparatively cheap, food-grade, no-taint bulk winetransport (Brostrom & Brostrom, 2008).The final package for wine is almost always a glass wine bottle. Modern glass winebottles are strong, uniform and unreactive with the wine. Glass bottles were sealedprimarily with cork stoppers, but cheaper alternatives, such as the aluminium screwcapsule are now found on a significant proportion of wine bottles. These screw capsulesare structurally made of aluminium, but this does not come into contact with theproduct. A small food-grade no-taint plastic seal is present inside the screw capsule, itis this which seals the bottle, and contacts the wine (Brostrom & Brostrom, 2008).Some wine is packaged and sold in plastic bladders, which usually contain between 2 and15 litres, and are often housed in cardboard boxes for rigidity. A small proportion ofwine is packaged in other food-grade containers; plastic bottles, paperboard cartons,and aluminium cans lined with a plastic laminate (Brostrom & Brostrom, 2008).WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 6
  7. 7. Influences on the World of WineIt is difficult to imagine anything more integral to the world of wine, than the vesselsused to produce and store it. From the moment the grapes are broken, the product is aliquid one, meaning that storage vessels are essential. The technological changes thathave occurred over the centuries, have change the wine storage and transportationparadigm. Early clay vessels allowed only short term storage due to porosity, and onlystored small quantities due to the difficulty of making large vessels. Later, fired andeven glazed ceramics, and the development of better stoppers and resin lining, allowedlonger term storage of wine, together with easier transportation. Better ceramics alsoallowed the storage of larger quantities of wine, with some Roman vessels holdingthousands of litres (Dal Piaz, 2009).Moving to the use of barrels allowed easier movement of wine throughout the world,both over land and sea. Barrels were also strong, meaning fewer breakages than withceramics (Brostrom & Brostrom, 2008). Now that wine could be transported, it could betraded, forming the basis for what we consider to be the world of wine.With the development of the bottle, wine could be bought and sold in smallerquantities, which could be stored with low risk of spoilage. Without the bottle,individuals would not be able to purchase a range of different wines, or mature a fewbottles of a particular wine, sampling it at different points throughout its maturation.Bottles allow consumers the choice of different wines from around the world, and theyensure that the consumer receives (in most cases) a product which has survivedmaturation and storage (Jackson, 2008).Finally, the development of hygienic stainless steel, which can be used to build verylarge tanks, has allowed the wine industry to produce certain wines on a large scale.This has enabled the provision of consumer wines, and relatively low prices. Thesewines, due in part to the hygienic nature of the new tanks, while affordable, are wellmade, and of a good commercial quality (Brostrom & Brostrom, 2008).WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 7
  8. 8. Challenges for the FutureIt is unlikely that wine storage technology will change significantly in the foreseeablefuture. In the winery, stainless steel has provided tanks which are easy to clean andsanitise, and which can be made as large as is desired for wine purposes. While plasticsmay find a place, they have limitations, such as the difficulty of modification and repair,and their tendency to absorb, to some extent, aromas, or organic/chemical materials.For transportation, maturation and distribution, the glass bottle is extremely wellsuited. Glass is completely unreactive with wine, which allows extended maturation.New closures may be developed along the lines of the aluminium screw-capsule, but forthe sake of tradition, if for no other reason, it is likely that some cork will still be used.Glass bottles are heavy and have a high energy cost to produce. Cheaper plastics mayincreasingly replace glass for consumer level wines which are not intended to bematured (Jackson, 2008).To save on transportation costs, particularly fuel costs, more wines may be transportedto their destination country in bulk, to be bottled there.While these changes may occur to lesser or greater extents, they do not represent alarge shift in the wine world, rather they are gradual, incremental changes to theindustry as it exists now.WSC5.05 Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 8
  9. 9. ReferencesA History of Wine Storage. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2011, from, G. G., Brostrom, J. (2008). The Business of Wine: An Encyclopedia. Westport, Connecticut:Greenwood Publishing Group.Cooper, D. (2004). A History of Steel Tank Structural Design. Retrieved 1 August, 2011, from Piaz, G. (2009). The History of Wine Part II – Wine Storage – The Early Days. Retrieved August 1,2011, from Piaz, G. (2009). The History of Wine Part III – Wine Storage – Barrels. Retrieved August 1, 2011, from, J. (2008). Fermenting Wine in Cement Tanks. Retrieved August 1, 2011, from, R. S. (2008). Wine Science, Second Edition; Principles, Practice, Perception. Academic PressJohnson, H. (1989). The Story of Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley International.Kaufman, M. (2011). Ancient Winemaking Operation Unearthed. Retrieved 1 August, 2011, from, A. (2007). Boxed In. Retrieved August 5, 2011, from, J. (2011). Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave. Retrieved August 5, 2011, from SINC. (2010). Chemical analyses uncover secrets of an ancient amphora. ScienceDaily.Retrieved August 1, 2011, from History. (2010). Retrieved August 1, 2011, from Introduction to Wine Business – Assignment 1 – Jonathan Musther Page 9