From wineskins to cork - the evolution of wine storage

  • 2021-11-03

The continuous improvement of wine storage solutions, that has enabled to start international transportation and store wine in large quantities.

What was the first solution for wine storage in history? How did people first make it enable to store wine at a cooler place? How did the process go through until today’s conditions, with large barrels and bottles?

In this article, we’re going to answer all these questions, by presenting the evolution of wine storage.

It all started with wineskins

Just think about your favorite wine for a second. Okay, now imagine that you have to drink it from storage made out of animal skins or bladders. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Buti f we check the history of wine storage, several references are made about wineskins, for example in the Bible, Homer’s Odyssey, or Shakespeare’s Falstaff.

Kvevri – cooling solution from 6000 BC

Have you ever heard the word „kvevri”? It’s maybe the oldest winemaking ceramics in history, kind of egg-shaped clay, that has enabled to store wine in large quantities. What more important is, with kvevri it became possible to the ground’s cooling effect.

The big kvevris first have been lined with beeswax, filled and capped with wooden stoppers. They buried than the massive pots underground. That way the earth could provide natural regulation and the burial process facilitated a cool, stable temperature.

With that, the protection of the freshness of wine couldn’t cause problems anymore.

Amphorae - perfect accessory for bulk wine trade

With amphoraes, we go further and are theoretically in the days of ancient Greece and Rome. That was the time when standardized wine quantities and international wine trade gained more and more space.

You can imagine amphoraes just like tall and slender ceramics with a consistent size. The narrow shape allowed packing up amphores in large quantities on ships and land cargos. To enable the easier handling engineers have designed the amphoraes with practical handles atop each piece.

The invention of oak barrels

The introduction of the invention of the wooden barrel by the Gauls was a revolutionary step forward. Compared to amphoraes the oak barrels have represented a higher level in terms of storage capacity and quality of maturation.

Why did professionals choose oak at that time? The decision wasn’t based on oak’s trademark characteristics we know well today. They’ve chosen it for availability and the relative ease with which the wood bends.

The time when people started to store wine in bottles

Until the 17th century, the usage of glass was out of the question regarding wine storage. But with the innovation of the coal-burning furnaces and their furnaces meant the reach of thicker, darker glasses.

That was a kind of green light for storing wine in bottles for commercial purposes. Moreover, the continuous innovation has prompted longer and sleeker bottles. Only one ingredient was missing for the perfect storage

Cork – the last piece of the puzzle

What did the introduction of the cork in wine storage history mean? Game changer, revolution, the cherry on top. The idea is due to the Englishman Robert Hooke who devised the foremost the usage of cork for sealing wine bottles.

Cork is simply perfect for that task, so with that, we’ve reached the so-called finishing touch. The process has been started with wineskins, but today’s bottles with a cork at the top make it nice and easy to store wine, as long as needed, at the desired temperature.