A wineskin is a spouted satchel made for the storage, transportation and drinking of wine. They have been referenced in classic literature and date back to Ancient Greece. Made of leather, they are long lasting, durable containers well-suited for wine enthusiasts. Due to their unique nature a wineskin requires some initial care and maintenance for maximum use.
A time line account of the wineskin’s origin is difficult to come by, however the notable appearances it makes in Homer’s “Odyssey,” the Bible and “Don Quixote” allow some insight. For example, Homer tells us the wineskin dated back to ancient Greece, and the Bible and “Don Quixote” tell us that the wineskin appeared early on in Spanish and African history.
Made of Skin
A wineskin is made of leather, the most common of which is goatskin. Goatskin is better -uited for craftsman to handle because of its flexibility. Goat skin is harder wearing, increasing the life of the wineskin. After selecting and removing the skin, it is cleaned and tanned with tannin collected from the mimosa tree.
Pitch, Twine and Resin
After tanning the goat skin, it is coated with pitch extracted from juniper or pine trees. The pitch is purified at high temperatures and used to waterproof the inside leather of the wineskin. The skin is bound into form with twine made from flax, though nearly all twine used in making wineskin was hemp until the 1970s. A nozzle made of pressed resin or bakelight is added for pouring and drinking.
A wineskin is made of organic material; unlike a plastic bottle, it takes some preparation and maintenance by the owner. Before pouring in the first amount of wine to store, the wineskin must be heated, rubbed, inflated, rinsed with water and filled with wine for five days which is then discarded. Then, the wineskin can be used for storing drinking wine.