Apple and Grape Mead 1517 Epulario by de Roselli

For 2018, I’ve decided to each week (approximately), present a recipe or source for mead that I do not believe has been widely seen.

The focus will be on the raw historical information.

With no further ado I offer the first. A drink made of apples, grapes, and honey.

Gathering Grapes in September

Giovanni de’Rosselli’s Opera noua chiamata Epulario quale tracta il modo de cucinare ogni carne, vcelli, pesci, de ogni sorte. Et fare sapori, torte, pastelli, al modo de tutte le prouincie: et molte altre gentilezze. Composta per maestro Giouanne de Rosselli. Francese was published in Venice in 1517.

The title translates as “New work called Epulario, which describes the way to cook every kind of meat, birds, fish. And to make flavors , pies, tarts, in the manner of regions. And many other good things. Composed by Master Giovanne de Roselli, French.

A scan of the original text is posted at Academia Barilla (The Italian Food Academy, ) in their gastronomic library at (Adobe Flash required).

In 1598 it was translated into English and published as ‘Epulario, or the Italian Banquet’. The English 1598 is located online at Early English Books Online; which is subscription.

The recipe from the 1517 edition:

“Per fare del vino biancho dolce.

Togli mela bone et dolce in bona quantita del vino: et putale: bene et mette li dentro tanto miele ebe sia per la mittade dele mela: et poi schola molto bene insieme luno con laltro: et poi le metterai nel vino cioe nella botte et meschola fortemente insieme et questo si fa meglio ali vini noni che boglio no insieme nella botte, overo fa bollire queste cose ivno paiolo nero con alquanto vino novo et poi metti nella botte et miscola.”

As it appears in 1598 in English:

“To make sweet white Wine. Take good sweet Apples according to the quantity of the Wine and stampe them well, and put halfe as much Honny as Apples, and mingle them together, then put it into the wine in the vessel and mingle it well: and this is done best with new wine that boyleth in the Vate, or else boyle these things in some vessel with some new wine, then out it to the other, and stirre them together.”

A recipe like this may appear to be entirely general, but typically there are clues in the recipe text as well as the limits enforced by the fermentation process that help limit the possibilities. Some specific issues that come to mind for this recipe are:

  • Apples according to the quantity of the Wine: Defining the ratio of apples versus wine must to be used? 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:5, 1:10?
  • Half as much honey as apples: Before or after stamping, does it imply apple juice only or the entirety of the apple mush, honey by apple volume or weight?
  • Sweet white wine: Ensuring that the amount of sugar present in the mixture will produce the stated result.
  • If you are strict about definitions, and want to make a mead, you will want more than 50% of the fermenting sugars to be honey. My original has about 45% of the total sugar from honey, but retains a good honey flavor.

Hand Crushing Apples in the Basque Region

I made this recipe a few months ago.

The good news is it tastes fantastic! All three elements are present although the apple is less prominent than the grape and honey. The flavor is quite complex, and was characterized by several tasters as port-like (despite being less than 3 months in the bottle).

The bad news is that in a fit of distraction, I ended up using red wine must instead of white wine. Since the recipe title is for ‘sweet white wine’, the use of red wine is certainly less accurate. I have some white wine concentrate that will be making a white wine batch of this very soon.

If you have any specific types of recipes you want to see featured, or a time frame of geographical region of specific interest, please drop me a note.

Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. (1500). Full-page miniature of gathering grapes, with treading of grapes in background, in September. Retrieved from

Photograph By Sagardun ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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