View Full Version : Is it still a Pyment...

Chevette Girl
04-30-2010, 01:26 AM
... if it's made with wild grapes? (and I don't mean feral concord or other domestic grape, I mean the tiny sour ones that are all seed and colour with no inherent sugar and can only be made remotely palatable with copious amounts of sugar). I just tripped over a long thread about nomenclature... still trying to wrap my head around all of it... :p

I tend to call it a <fillintheblank> mead if I intended it to be fruity mead, and <fillintheblank> melomel if it was intended to be wine but happened to be sweetened with honey (I often sweeten a second-run wine with a kilo of honey to see if the flavours work well).

... and I just tripped over a pound of last year's wild grapes in the freezer... and I'm getting ideas...

Dan McFeeley
04-30-2010, 02:25 AM
Yep, it's a pyment! Good luck with it. If it's any help, a general rule of thumb is one pound of honey will substitute for 3/4 pound sugar.

Sounds like it will need lots of aging. Concord grape wines can be acidic and need about two years aging, this could be a pyment needing the same or more, depending on how it turns out.


04-30-2010, 08:21 AM
+1 on the long aging. Been picking those little clusters for years for jelly making, put together a "pyment" last summer. Its ages from being good, tho not real bad, has a tannic bite.

04-30-2010, 08:35 AM
I've read elsewhere that fermenting at cooler temperatures say 50-55 helps to reduce some foxy or musty flavors that are associated with wild grapes at warmer temps.

04-30-2010, 11:00 AM
Have you ever fermented those grapes at all before? Be sure you are OK with not liking the result. We have about 30 gallons of wild grape wines in the cellar. Bottles are 14-17 years old now, and they are still not drinkable. So dry and "foxy" that age is only making them woody. Every 4th or 5th bottle is not so bad I won't drink it by itself, but most samples end up getting blended about 25% with some other alcohol beverage to make it tolerable. Usually mead of course. ;) So it ends up being a pyment when I am done. The wife gives my disgusting looks every time I do it. It's an abomination to her that I ruin good mead with that wild grape wine! :o

Making it partially honey might help some, but I would not be so sure! Wild grapes are notorious for not making great wine. I consider them right up there with dandelions. You make them into fermented beverages because you can, not because you should!

Angelic Alchemist
04-30-2010, 12:01 PM
We made a successful sour grape pyment last year. It has to be low EtOH and backsweetened considerably. The end result tastes like sweet and sour candy. Goes well with Chinese food.

Chevette Girl
04-30-2010, 09:01 PM
Hee hee, don't worry, I'm intimately familiar with these particular wild grapes, they're the nasty little seedy ones that are all colour and no taste till you sweeten them, I've been making juice and jelly with them since the early nineties and they were the subject of my first wine (that didn't come from a kit). I've never had problems with it being foxy or musty, I've made a 5 gal batch, a 3 gal batch and about six 1-gallon batches over the years. I bottled the 5 gal batch almost exactly 2 years after it was started but it probably could have been bottled safely at a year and a half as it was a little drier than my usual wild grape wine.

I've fermented on the grapes a couple times but I find I have better results if I make grape juice by squashing them and bringing them just to a boil then straining out the juice and diluting it... Usually when I ferment on the fruit, I take the mesh bag out and pour honey over it for a second run and see if it's worth trying a melomel with next time, but since I usually just make juice, there is no second run so I've never tried wild grapes with honey.

I stay away from sulphites as much as I can because I have a lot of friends who are sensitive to them so I generally let everything go to its natural conclusion, I've started to back off from oversweetening because they end up too strong and alcohol-flavoured and they also take forEVER to ferment out.

My favourite batch was the 3 gallon batch, a wine snobby friend of mine really liked it and said it reminded him of port... of course, the reason for that was that I had to sulphite and filter it (we do not speak of the fruit flies!) and stored 3 gallons in a 5 gallon carboy while it settled for a week until the next filter run, so it oxidized a little. The smaller batches usually ended up fairly sweet and reminded another friend of Manischeviz (sp?)... Turns out I like it best a little oxidized anyway so I now usually encourage a little oxidation when I use wild grapes, the sherry-like flavour really appeals to me... so far my four favourites that almost always turn out right have been red currant, wild grape, pear (all three of which I pick myself at my mom's place or the farm where my pony lives) and the many, many modifications I've made to JAO.

I've done many things with these wild grapes... just not fermented with honey :)

05-01-2010, 10:11 AM
Do you have any pics of those grapes that you could post? I'm curious to see what kind of "wild grape" (which all tend to be labrusca grapes here in No. America) gives you no "foxiness" in your wine.

Do they resemble any of the varieties pictured on this site? http://chateau-z.com/wildgrapes.html

Chevette Girl
05-01-2010, 07:11 PM
I can't really identify from memory, I'll see what I can do about ID'ing it once there's something visible! (the vines are barely budding right now) I know there are two different kinds I've seen, grapes are identical and they taste the same raw (Ptooie!) but the plants look different, one's got red stems IIRC... I wish they'd showed a sample of broken fruit, these are definitely purple on the inside and not white with black skins like Concords.

05-02-2010, 08:07 AM
This is what I pick in Missouri and Iowa, Vitis cinerea var. Baileyana. Its further down the page. Makes excellant jelly, the jury is still out on the pyment.

Chevette Girl
05-02-2010, 11:32 AM
Of the varieties presented on that webpage, I'm suspecting vitis cordifolia is the closest, most of the others are too big or too small just judging from the berries, I've never seen any as big as 1 cm in diameter... although occasionally the bunches are as close together as the baileyana. I will try to confirm when I've got vines in front of me, I'll have to search out other resources though, not sure about climate differences between Ottawa and Missouri so the local varieties may differ :)