The aroma of wine comes not only from the fruit itself, but also from natural customs, and oak barrels are also one of the heroes. The smells of vanilla, smoked wood, coffee and chocolate in the glass are all born of oak barrels! However, have you ever wondered who and how long ago it was that oak barrel brewing was a good choice?
Herodotus mentioned in the first volume of his monumental masterpiece History that Armenian wine merchants sailed along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the 5th century BC and could transport nearly 25 metric tons of wine to Babylon. Many wines have been quoted in Herodotus’ books in history. Wine is transported in barrels made of palm wood, which is the first time in history that wine is transported in barrels.
However, McGovern, an archaeologist who identified the oldest remains of artificially fermented wine, believes that Herodotus’ words have been misinterpreted. If Armenian businessmen really use palm barrels, McGovern wrote, they can only make barrels in Transcaucasia, but there are no dates. In other words, Armenians lack the wood needed to make wooden barrels. In Herodotus’ book, the Greek word for wine containers is bikos phoinikeiou. According to McGovern, phoinikeiou may mean Phoenician, so the book refers to a Phoenician jar used at that time.
So, who found that wooden barrels can bring excellent flavor to aging? Today, I can taste the unique flavor of beer, wine and brown spirits (whisky, some rum, aged agave, etc.). ) aged in wooden barrels under the guidance of oak. Liquor aged in wooden barrels has complex flavor and is thought-provoking, which allows sommeliers to judge and classify. If what McGovern said is true, it seems that no one knows when humans began to ripen in barrels.
It is possible to say that this is due to the ancient Romans. In ancient Rome, the cultural heritage of wine was profound, which led to the custom of sommeliers (then known as haustores, ancient Roman sommeliers). Wine means wine in Latin, and it is divided into many categories or grades, including sweet (ducle), soft (molle), soft (album) and deep red (sanguineum). At that time, there was a noble wine, Farr vintage wine, which had to be drunk in Chenfang for at least one year, and the older it became, the more precious it became. Twenty or thirty years later, the color of wine is almost amber; In Satiricon, an ancient Roman literary work, Patronius (about 27-66 BC), an author from the family of arbitrators, described such a feast: first, he enjoyed sweet wine with honey, and then he offered Ferranas for a hundred years in the year of Opimian (121 BC). Therefore, even if wooden containers are not used, the chemical changes of wine will continue over time. There is evidence that in ancient Rome, people mainly used binaural pottery pots to bring Chen Fang wine. They will seal the jar and heat it-an ancient sterilization method that can eliminate the microorganisms that cause food spoilage and avoid affecting the taste.
From the public granaries (horrea) excavated by archaeologists in ancient Rome and Ostia, it can be seen that in order to store a large amount of wine, the ancient Romans once built special warehouses like dry food. But most of the time, the ancient Romans used a kind of pottery jar called dolium to hold wine (bigger and rounder than the binaural pottery jar), and buried it deep underground, only exposing the neck, which was not only safe, but also tended to be kept at constant temperature.
However, the ancient Romans still used wooden barrels, and they may also be used to hold wine. Some historians claim that the barrel-making process was completed by Gauls or Celts; McGovern thinks that they may have passed the barrel-making method to Minos in Crete in the Bronze Age. As mentioned earlier, McGovern detected resin in ancient wine stains unearthed in Turkey (it was probably used for preservation at that time, which also confirmed that the precious gifts brought by the Magi contained resin, frankincense and myrrh); In addition, one of his colleagues also detected a chemical called lactone. He said that this ingredient belongs to B- methyl -g- octanolide, which is usually a derivative of oak and resin. In the wine industry, the official name is whiskey lactone, which is a compound produced when wine is aged in wooden barrels, which makes red wine, scotch whisky and cognac smell of coconut milk and taste rich and full. If wood is baked, its consistency will increase-so must the barrel maker when making barrels.
So, how did Minoan people add oak flavor to wine? Soak oak chips in wine? Or just mature in barrels? Although no barrel was ever found in the ruins of Minos, McGovern pointed out that Minos knew how to build ships. If they can bend the wood into an arc hull so that water can’t penetrate, naturally they can also bend the wood into an arc bucket to hold the liquid.
Lactone can be said to be only the first substance that appears after wine enters the barrel. The chemical changes in the barrel never stop, dancing with wood, air and years-dance music is long and complicated, and it contains as much profound knowledge as fermentation and distillation.
Oak barrels and spirits
Distilled liquor didn’t really catch on in Europe until the 13th century. Irish monks who were the first to make wine at that time may have stored it in wooden barrels-their wine was soaked in wooden environment until it was sold. Many historical materials about bourbon alleged that American whisky had matured in the late 1780s, and proved that the words “Old Bourbon Whiskey” were printed on the wooden barrels filled with wine at that time. People appreciate its taste and think it must be caused by long-term aging in wooden barrels. In fact, Old Bourbon refers to the rural areas of Kentucky, which originated in Kentucky, or it may refer to the streets that became rich in New Orleans and then became popular all over the country (historians have different opinions). In any case, it has nothing to do with whether it passes through Chen Fang in the production process. In short, the early spirits may be sold as green wines. According to Charles Cowdery, who studies the history of bourbon, normal aging in oak barrels did not appear until several decades after bourbon was invented.
Brandy produced in Konnek, France usually has to be aged in barrels for one or two years. In the wave of French worship in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Americans often regarded it as a symbol of quality. Cowdray’s research report pointed out that in 1793, whiskey advertised as aged appeared in the United States, and in 1814, a few wineries announced the number of aged wines. However, most whiskies are still ordinary, and the alcohol concentration is reduced by directly adding water to the original wine (people who drink water are lucky-many of them are doped with worse things; The Food Hygiene Law will be on the road for a long time)
As we all know, burning the inside of an old wooden barrel can eliminate the smell of the previous contents. But the regulations of bourbon require that new barrels must be used, and the barrels must be baked first. Caudry is not sure who made the rules. The practice of burning and carbonizing old barrels before they were used in whisky was quite common at that time, and everyone was very aware of its benefits, so that new barrels dedicated to whisky were also included in the routine burning and carbonizing procedures. He wrote that there is no major innovation in this practice in historical materials, which shows that this is a habit that has gradually formed.
The gradually formed habit was formalized in the 1840s. According to American law, bourbon must be aged in newly baked oak barrels for a period of time. Britain followed closely, and the legislation stipulated what standards the goods named after scotch whisky must meet, but did not restrict the use of new barrels. (Single malt whisky makers often use empty barrels of other spirits, such as sherry and bourbon, to age old whisky, and sometimes they use finish to bring exotic flavor to whisky, such as barrels filled with madeira or rum before-and finally you will taste all kinds of flavors in the glass. )
The role of the barrel has gradually changed, from the initial simple carrier to a part of the contents. In addition to being simply used as a container for transporting beer, wine and spirits, wooden barrels have also become an indispensable part of the wine-making process. Some characteristics of wood can make the ordinary, green and low-alcohol grape juice in the barrel slowly evolve over time and become fragrant and mellow wine-it can also turn moonlight wine into bourbon and sublimate white agave into aged agave.
It was not until the last thirty years that researchers began to study how ordinary wooden barrels could improve the quality of wine. People changed the characteristics of wood in the process of barrel making. The components of the barrel are dissolved in the liquid stored in the barrel. After years of accumulation, wooden barrels have given liquor stored in them a brand-new flavor.