The evolution of wine packaging in history

The evolution of wine packaging in history

Humans have been drinking wine for thousands of years. Recently, in a prehistoric site in Macedonia, they found a 6,000-year-old wine, which would be the oldest in Europe.

Wine spread throughout the world through trade, religious missions, and colonization. Knowing how wine was transported from one place to another by land and water requires review more than 8,000 years of history and technological advances.

Transporting wine is a difficult task, as the packaging needs to meet certain requirements:

  • Air must be kept out of the container to avoid oxidation.
  • It should be strong enough not to break, but not so heavy that it cannot be easily moved.
  • In most cases, the container should be able to be opened and then resealed.
  • The packaging itself must not interact with the wine.
  • The container must be able to be stored in an environment that has a stable temperature.

Today, about twelve billion glass bottles are destined for wine packaging per year. But this was not always the case, glass packaging is relatively new, it has been used since the seventeenth century and it wasn't until around 1800 when the bottles began to be manufactured in series.

According to ancient and biblical sources, it was common use large clay pots to ferment, store and transport wine.

While the Romans called their great clay jugs dolium, the Greeks called them pithoi. They made objects out of their containers waterproof and hermetic and then they accumulated the wine in amphorae.

Amphorae are slightly smaller and typically have a pointed bottom. They were so tightly sealed that could preserve wine and facilitate longevity, which explains the aged wines attested in ancient sources.

Around the 2nd century AD, amid the popularity of terracotta jars, the use of wood appeared in the wine industry. The growing popularity of came in gaul facilitated the widespread use of the barrel, since they did not dominate the art of ceramics so much. When the terracotta jug finally fell out of favor, the barrel took its place.

However, the wood did not provide an airtight seal and the wine quickly lost its quality, so they only drank young wines.

After centuries of domination by the wooden barrel, the search began for an alternative container. Although the bottle already existed, it was mainly used as an intermediate for transfer the wine from the barrel to the glass.

The corks weren't tightas they were simply trying to keep insects and dust away, not creating a tight seal. The original wine bottles were short and squat with protruding necks, making them impossible to turn on their sides and required to be stored in an upright position.

Only when it was discovered that, putting the bottle on its side the cork would submerge, a long-term preservation similar to amphora. This changed the shape of the bottle from a short and robust to a long bottle like the one we have today.

This evolution allowed the return of vintage wines, as maturation and longevity were once again possible.

For wine lovers, little thing equals the pleasure of uncorking a bottle with a corkscrew, since, as we can see, in the packaging of wine in glass, as important as the bottle is also its cork.

Image: Pixabay


Video: The Evolution of Packaging Materials