Brewer: Lord Max the Executioner
Recipe Source: Original
Category: Division 3
Time/Place Paneled: Birka 2013
Panel Score: 73
In the beginning for thousands of years, grape meads were made throughout Greece and what is now Italy. In 70 AD, in the Book of Natural History, Pliny the Elder also mentioned that all wines could be improved in quality by the addition of honey. Barbera is a red grape grown in Northwestern Italy. It was believed to have been first cultivated in the hills of Monferrato in the central Piedmonte region. Documents from the Cathedral of Casale Monferrato between 1246 – 1277 show leasing agreements of vineyard lands planted with Barbera grapes, or “de bonis vitibus barbexinis” as it was known by then. My choice of this grape is two fold. One, it is a period grape. Two, it makes a great pyment. Back in period times and in present day also, pyments could be made in one of two ways. One could ferment a wine and when the fermentation was complete, add a honey and water mixture to it to sweeten it. Another way is one could add this honey and water mixture to the fresh grape juice and then ferment both together. The advantage to this was that the end result would have a higher alcohol content. For my rendition of this pyment, I chose the later of the processes and fermented the grape juice and honey mixture together. I do own a wine press but chose this time to use pre-pressed grapes because that is all I could obtain that year. Back in period time, the pyment would have been fermented using the natural yeast, which occurred on the grape skins. I chose a commercial yeast (Red Star Montrachet) for this brewing endeavor. The grape juice would have been fermented on the grape skins for a period of time. This would have allowed the yeast access to the B vitamins and certain acids (citric, malic, and tartaric) which would give the pyment its character and improve the fermentation rate. Since I had no access to these grape skins, I substituted with the actual acids themselves. When the pyment fermentation was complete, it would have been stored in oak barrels that had been lightly singed leaving behind a sulfur ash that would have dissolved into the pyment acting as a preservative. I stored my pyment in glass carboys and used sulfite tablets to produce a similar effect. I hope you enjoy the pyment.
- ½ fluid ounce acid blend (60/40 malic / tartaric)
- 500 milligrams ascorbic acid
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient
- Wine yeast - I use Red Star Montrachet
- Campden tablets (sulfites)
- 3 Gallons Barbera Grape Juice
- 132 oz. Clean, non-chlorinated Water Source
- ½ tsp pectic enzyme
- 1 thiamin tablet
- Put water into pot and bring to a boil.
- Add in honey and other ingredients minus the yeast, grape juice and sulfites.
- Lower heat and stir until they dissolve.
- Bring mixture to 180 degrees for 10 minutes to sterilize the mixture.
- Then, cool mixture to 70 degrees.
- Add grape juice and honey/water mixture to the glass carboy and stir thoroughly.
- Transfer 16 ounces to the glass jar.
- Cover the carboy and add fermentation lock.
- Add yeast to the contents of the quart jar.
- 3-4 days later, add contents from quart jar to 5 gallon carboy.
- Let ferment for 4 - 12 weeks at 70 - 80°F until it stops.
- Rack off clear pyment to second glass carboy leaving yeast sludge behind. Top off the second carboy with sulfited water solution. (2 tablets per gallon)
- Repeat step 13 at 3 months and at 6 months.
- At 9 months, bottle with sulfites (2 tablets per gallon) and enjoy.
Started on 9/19/2015
Racked on 11/22/2015
Racked on 4/3/2016
Bottled on 8/22/2016
Starting Gravity: 1.130
Potential Alcohol: 17.5%
- Four feet of clear plastic siphon hose
- 2 one foot sections of clear plastic tubing
- a 1 – 1 ½ gallon non-metallic pot
- a non-metallic spoon
- a non-metallic funnel
- a fermentation lock and rubber stopper
- a one quart glass jar
- Floating thermometer
- Measuring cup and measuring spoons
- 25 Glass 750 ml wine bottles
- 25 Corks
- 1 - 6 gallon plastic brewing bucket
Primary Sources:All about Red Wine – www.allaboutredwine.com/barbera-wine.html
Ancient Wine: the search for origins of viniculture by Patrick E. McGovern, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2007
Book of Natural History by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), Book 14: Chapter 25, Loeb Classical Library, Translated by H. Rackham, Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1945, 1968
Find the Data – http://wine-grape.findthedata.org/l/122/Barbera
Mad about Mead!: Nectar of the Gods by Pamela Spence, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, 1997
Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook by Raymond Massaccesi, 1976
- Pliny the Elder, Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Translated by H. Rackham. The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 19, pg. 261, London: Harvard University Press, 1945; 1968.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 25, pg. 271.