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Barrel types

Along with the clay amphora, the wooden barrel is one of the oldest wine vessels. The Greek historian Herodotus (482-425 BC) mentioned such palm wood barrels in which wine was transported to Babylon. The Celts used wooden barrels on a larger scale for transporting wine from around 600 BC. The conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) around 50 B.C. meant that the Romans took over the skill of making them. They mainly used fir wood. Remains of wooden barrels (cupas) have been found in Pompeii, for example. Today, oak wood from French or American oaks is mainly used for the production of wine barrels, but acacia and chestnut are also very popular. According to shape, a distinction is made between round barrels (the most common shape), drum barrels (shorter than the diameter of the belly) and oval barrels (taller than wide). Wooden barrels are mainly used for storing and transporting wines, but are also used for barrel fermentation. They are also an ideal ageing container for high-quality wines, which need a slow supply of oxygen through the breathing wood during barrique ageing or barrel ageing for their maturation.

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