Country wine, second wine, and melomel
Cherry mead, often called “cherry melomel”, is usually made like a country wine. You make a country wine with small amount of fruit, 2-6 lb, per gallon of water (250-750 g/L) with enough sugar to bring the alcohol up to 12% and acid to balance. You would do something similar to make a conventional cherry mead, but use honey instead of sugar. Also fruit would be at the low end of the range. I’m not going to do that.
After pressing a conventional wine, the pressed fruit (called “pomace”) often has some color, flavor, and other “goodies” left in it. By adding water, sugar, and acid, you can make a light bodied enjoyable wine. That’s the way I’m going to make cherry mead.
How much honey? How much water?
The more water you use, the less impact the fruit will have. In deciding exactly how much, consider the amount of wine. You shouldn’t make more second wine than original wine, and maybe only half as much. Since I estimate three gallons of finished cherry wine, that leaves a 1.5-3 gallon range for my cherry mead. I decided on the high end of that range because fruit meads are often made with less fruit than comparable wines. The amount of honey depends on your alcohol target.
I’m aiming for a low alcohol (8-9% ABV) fruit mead, because I think this would suit a second wine better. If you prefer a higher alcohol content, then you could use more honey or less water. Using 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) of water, for example, would raise the potential alcohol to 11% or so. In these calculations, I’m assuming no contribution from the pomace. There will probably be some sugar, though, so the actual amount of alcohol will be a little higher. To get more precise control over the alcohol, you could place the pomace in a clean bucket, mix up the other ingredients, then take a gravity reading. You could then nudge it up or down, to your target gravity, by adding honey or water. Such precise control wasn’t important to me, so I skipped that step.
Pomace from cherry wine
3 gallons (11 liters) water
6 lb (2.7 kg) honey
1 tsp tannin
1) Place the pomace in a clean fermenter.
2) Heat one gallon of water to a boil, take off heat, and dissolve honey. Cool in a water bath.
3) Measure out another gallon of water. Use a little bit to dissolve the tannin and add it to the fermenter. Use some more to rinse out the honey container, to get the honey that didn’t pour out, and add it to the fermenter.
4) Add one gallon of water, plus any unused water from step 3, to the fermenter. At this point, you should have used three gallons of water including one gallon to dissolve the honey in step 2. The point here is to use three gallons (11 liters), so the exact amount in each step isn’t important. Just keep track.
4) Add the honey-water mixture to the fermenter when cooled (less than 100 Fahrenheit or 40 Celsius).
There’s plenty of yeast in the pomace, so no need to pitch any more. I noticed signs of fermentation the same day. The CO2 from fermentation will push the fruit to the top. This is called a cap, and you need to stir it in every day. If you’ve every heard a winemaker talk about “punching down the cap,” this is what he was talking about.
The cherry wine is still going, the cherry mead just got started, now it’s time to think about raspberries!
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