|DOMESTICATION AND DISSEMINATION OF MAIN PLANTS
|The primitive production process for mezcal wine
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|Continent: North America
Description of the local variant of the technique
To begin from the middle of the 18° century the process of production for mezcal wine becomes established in strict relationship with the Mexican rural tradition and environment. The production of this distilled liquor originates from the fusion of American and European technologies. The production cycle for Tequila, begins in the agave fields. The plant possesses the highest concentration of sugars just before reaching maturity, this is about 10 years before the quiote (the vertical florescence appears) which anticipates its death. It is at this moment that the plant is cut at the root: the harvesting of the “cone” for the eventual production of gima (or jima). This operation is carried out with a sort of shovel: the leaves are removed , the “cone” is severed, split in half and carried by carts or by animals up to the tabema. The first step for the production of the liquor consisted of the tatemado of the agave “heads” inside wells or conical stone ovens dug in the ground, similar to those used in pre-Hispanic times according to an ancestral American technique. The porous volcanic stone was heated up first with a wood fire, till it reached an adequate temperature. When the logs were burnt out, the heads of the agave split in half were laid on a bed of leaves, twigs and mud. The juices of the heads coming into contact with the hot stones produced the steam necessary for the cooking process and transformation of vegetable starch into sugar. After the tatemado the oven was let to cool down and after a few days it was open, thus obtaining the mezcal as it is called. This mescal sweet and fibrous is the same as we may find in some village markets in various regions of the country. Since the early years of the 20th century, to extract the juice of mescal, a circular mill called tahona (chilian mill) was used. This type of mill was inspired by the European corn flour mill and it consists of a central pivot to which a great heavy millstone wheel was harnessed, pulled by an animal. In the lower part there was a liquid collecting device. The must, still not filtered, was carried with buckets or conveyed through channels to a place of fermentation where it was left for a few days during which the sugar turned into low gradation alcohol. The maceration of the must was completed in bottles made of tanned goat skin. In later times the bottles were replaced by oak container from the nearby Cerro Grande. The final part of the process was the distillation. The fermented must evaporated in complicated copper stills. The white liquor, properly purified, was deposited in oak casks of varying size.
Still in use.