hist-brewing: Period Questions

Wade Hutchison whutchis at bucknell.edu
Thu Jan 21 13:07:45 PST 1999


At 09:37 PM 1/20/99 -0600, you wrote:
>I have a few questions I hope someone out there can help me with.  I am
>giving a talk on period wine making methods and am having some questions
>I can not find the answers to.  I have been a wine maker for several
>years with modern methods and so am familiar with modern methods but am
>having trouble imagining how I could do it and with what in the past.
>
>1.  Was period wine making  a two stage process as today with a rapid
>fermentation followed by a slower air lock process or were air locks
>even used?
Dunno on this one.

>
>2. What were used as period fermentation containers?  Ceramic? Wood?
>Metal?
Depending on what period - Romans used Amphorae, Post "dark ages" all
fermentation and travel was in wood until the 17th century when bottles
became commonly available.

>
>3. How was the must set up?  By taste to add sugar and or acid/tannins?
It seems that relative to our recent sugar discussions, that any use of
cane sugar would have been too expensive for wine making.  My guess is that
they used just the sugars in the fruit, or used honey as a sweetener.
Processed cane sugar was considered more of a spice until the 
16th cen, at least.



>
>4.  I have read that a period (Roman) container to age wine was called
>an amphorae but can not find a reference as to its material composition
>(ceramic? brass or some other metal?)
Amphorae were the tall, pointy-bottomed ceramic containers that all the 
Mediterranean peoples used for wine, grain and olive oil transport. 
Indications are that the 'technology' for building amphorae did not
survive the fall of the roman empire in Northern Europe, and that transport
containers switched over to wooden barrels.  This would have had a
significant effect on the quality of the wine owing to oxygen transfer 
through the barrels and increased tannic character to whatever was
placed in them.

On a related note, does anyone out there have a source that clearly
states whether barrels for _beer_ transport and storage were lined
with pitch or wax pre-17th century?  Or even post?

>
>I am starting my talk with the Roman-Greek wines and ending with SCA
>time periods of about 1600.
>Any help you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated.
>
>Thanks in advance!!
>Chris Caronna (Morgan the Vintner)
>ccaronna at swbell.net
>
>
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