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The history of barrel aging?

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I've been curious about aging lately, and have been trying to dig up any definitive information about when oak barrels began being used to age wine and spirits. So far I've found little information, and it's been anecdotal at best. I can not find any two articles that even come close to agreeing on much beyond current info.

In short, I can't find anything that even seems remotely definitive. Well, at this point I've found so much differing info that I can't be certain that it's correct.

So far this has all been web searches, but I can't even find a book containing info about the history of barrel aging.

Can anyone point me to some reference about the use of barrels to improve wines and spirits?

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This is an interesting article:

Barrel Making

The progression of the vine worried the Romans; the Gallic wine was much appreciated in Rome. In 92 A.D., in an early example of protectionism, the emperor Domitien decided to destroy the Gallic vineyards which had become a major force in wine production. Around the same time Pline the Elder noted the appearance, in the regions near the Alps, of an exceptional recipient specially conceived to hold wine: the wooden barrel. It was used in the colder countries, while elsewhere wine was stored in earthenware vases. The barrel became inseparably associated with wine, from its fermentation to its transport. In the regions where cellars were built it was easy to stock barrels. In archaeological research has found coopers tools and wooden seals dating from 100 B.C.

If you haven't already, perhaps expanding your searches to include "coopering" and "cooperage" will help.


Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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