750 Daily’s Most-Read Stories of the Last Two Years: No. 5 – Why an Ancient Winemaking Technique is Making a Comeback
July 18, 2019SEVENFIFTY DAILY
From Italy to Oregon, the use of clay pots in fermentation and aging is gaining devotees
Clay vessels have been used to ferment and age wine since ancient times. Neolithic Age wine vessels recently found in the Republic of Georgia were tested and confirmed to be the world’s oldest. “Almost every ancient culture, from the Canaanites to the Egyptians to the Assyrians to the Greeks and Romans, vinified in pottery vessels,” says Patrick McGovern, Ph. D., the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. His team conducted the liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry testing that confirmed the age of the Georgian vessels.
While clay pots are an uncontested link to the past, they are also becoming a resource for the future of winemaking. Beyond the romanticism involved in borrowing ancient techniques, terra-cotta pots offer unique interactive properties with wine—they pull out acidity, allow oxygen exchange, and provide superior insulation, among other benefits—that are different from those of stainless steel, wood barrels, or concrete. These factors are capturing the attention of winemakers around the world and encouraging new scholarship…