SUNDAY TIMES - Inventors say cheers to old method of ageing wine
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Sunday Times Food By Farren Collins, 2017-05-10 10:17:36.0

Inventors say cheers to old method of ageing wine

In future, your favourite local red wine could be aged in a plastic barrel rather than the traditional oak.
Image: iStock

Your next glass of red wine could be aged in a metal or even plastic container using “wood in liquid form”‚ and you may not even know the difference.

A Western Cape based company Oranet has developed a method to extract the “essence” of oak‚ from which wine-ageing barrels are made‚ into an ethanol-based liquid form.

“The solution can treat 100‚000 litres of wine with the same amount of wood that comes from a 50kg piece of wood typically used in a 250 litre barrel‚” said Francois Malan‚ the company's commercial manager.

Malan said that the solution was developed by Woolf Katz‚ an expert in microbiology and extraction‚ and preserved the same flavours and texture found in wood-barrelled wine.

“He’s able to put into liquid form the wood that is made from barrels. He calls it ‘wood in liquid form’.”

The invention has seen the company earn R500‚000 from the Western Cape government's Design Innovation Seed Fund to further develop the invention.

Six other winners were also selected to receive the funding‚ which MEC for Economic Development Alan Winde‚ said was in line with the province's economic growth strategy.

Malan said that wine makers in Stellenbosch and the southern suburbs were already using the product for their entire ranges‚ and that some of the seed money would be used to prove that it worked scientifically.

“Stellenbosch University will run a series of tests and trials for us to independently verify the working of our product and to confirm it’s working comparably to barrel ageing.”

A senior wine maker from a respected Western Cape vineyard said other forms of ageing were often used in lower quality wines‚ but not the “top-end stuff”.

“There have been alternatives around for many years‚ but it can never fully replace a proper barrel made from oak.” - TMG Digital/TimesLIVE