Melomel is mead that contains fruit. If the fruit is grapes, the more specific term is pyment.
This pyment effort consisted of:
- 1 gallon honey
- 3.25 gallons water
- 1 gallon + 3 cups crushed grapes, simply because this is how many grapes I collected
- 1 packet Champaign yeast
Usually, I make mead 1 part honey to 4 parts water, but I was trying to fit everything into a 5 gallon carboy. As it was, the crushed grapes floated in a mat, the yeast formed bubbles under it, and I narrowly escaped an over-flow situation and purple stained carpet! Just in the nick of time, I removed 1/2 gallon. Being greedy (ah, thrifty) I added it to a carboy of almost finished mead (the one in back in the picture), so technically I have two batches of pyment. However, most of the color dropped out of the mead with 1/2 gallon of pyment added. It’s actually more like mead contaminated with trace amounts of grape.
As usual, the honey was boiled with one gallon of the water and treated with Irish moss: 1 teaspoon is added once the mix is boiling and the resulting foam is removed. This removes protein from the honey, so when mead makers brag they use Irish moss, it’s kind of silly since premium honey would not require it. I use reject honey to make mead, so repeatedly added 1 teaspoon of Irish moss to the boiling mix until no foam formed.
Harvested late, the grapes were quite sweet. They can be crushed by hand, but I went old-school and used my (very clean) feet. First, the grapes were sorted and picked off of the stems. Bugs were removed. In the winemaking process, they use grape clusters. There is no way they can remove the occasional rotted grape or any bugs. Mostly spiders. Let’s try not to think about it. I watched T.V. and stepped on the carefully sorted grapes for 10 minutes.
I found a graph online that showed the color extracts from the grape skins first, then bitterness from them, then bitterness from the seeds. I wanted as much color as possible and wasn’t keen on the supposed complexity from the bitterness. Evidently, in winemaking, if you leave the wine to ferment and then age on the grape skins and seeds for six months, the wine ages nicely over 20-30 years, but is undrinkable for quite some time. I’d like to live long enough to drink this stuff. Having to wait two years for mead to be drinkable is quite enough! So I took the liquid off of the skins after five days when color extraction is at a maximum, and bitterness is still at pretty low levels.
To do this, I put a nylon mesh over the end of a siphon to transfer the liquid into a clean carboy. It was very tedious, as grape sediment kept clogging the nylon mesh. Next time I’ll pour it through a coarse strainer, aiming to remove most of the skin and all of the seed.