Monday Musings: Fermentation Vessels

Roman Amphora

As I watch the horrific news from Afghanistan, I am taking a break and musing about amphora, concrete, wood, and stainless steel. Over the weekend I participated in a blogging group about wines made in amphora. Thinking about the importance of fermentation and aging vessels, I have been reflecting on their place in the winemaking process. They can often either have no impact on a wine – be a neutral vessel – or they can impact flavors to the wines.

One of the biggest issues is how much air gets into any of these vessels and do the wines become oxidized. Another issue is what the vessel imparts to the wine. Often you taste oak in wine, that comes from the wood vessel. With a clay amphora, it isn’t clear what taste profile comes from the amphora.

Another issue that we see is that wines that are aged in stainless steel can have a sulfur note when you open them. It usually blows off but it can make a wine very unpleasant right out of the gate.

Which of these vessels are better for the environment? Those made from natural elements I think take pride of place here.

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