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Winemaking has been around for a known 7 000 years. The Chinese, who else, got it going! In Western society it began in Summer (present day bombed out Iraq). The Greeks, caught on, then the Romans etc. Throughout all this time wine was stored in baked clay urns. The container here weighs at least twice as much as the contents. So much for long distance transport. No wonder sunken Greek ships filled with urns are still found at the bottom of the Mediterranean! The Summerians tried palm wood to make containers and the wine tasted awful. When the Romans conquered Gaul (now France) they found plenty of oak. Having made barrels out of it, they loved the results.

Oak wood contains tannins which add a special taste to wine. But there is more, for the oak to impart its taste to wine, it takes time.

Soon it was discovered that the longer the wine was stored in oak, the better it became. In part because of being exposed to oak tannin, but mostly because of time – yes – aging.

Unfortunately most home wine makers drink their wine young, before the tannin in the wine and time have done their magic.

There are some ways around this although nothing can replace aging. More and more kits come with sachets of oak powder or oak cubes. This only takes your wine part of the way.

And then there are the whiskey essences in 20ml and 50ml bottles to be added to neutral spirits. They are of great quality and although rye benefits from aging, it is not as significant as wine. Our customers are truly happy with this product, and so should they be.

Finally, a question:

What is the difference (in so far as winemaking is concerned) between French oak and American oak? The latter contains more tannin and the wine requires less time in its presence to acquire the tannins. Because oak barrels breath, they require topping up every once in a while. Waste! The less time in these barrels the better. The rest of the aging takes place in stainless steel tanks where there is no breathing.