hist-brewing: 1596 wine making text

Jack C. Thompson tcl at teleport.com
Sat Feb 27 19:48:34 PST 2010

This is a little off-topic, but given the interest shown
in older ales and brewing chemistry the following text
about making wine may help a little bit.

The text is one I published in 1995.

The original text was black letter, with paragraph headings in a roman
font.  Aside from changing the black letter to a more legible font, the
text is, for the most part, unchanged from the original; "u" has been
replaced with "v"
where appropriate in modern usage (i.e., "conuenient" is now "convenient,"



Instructions for ordering of wines:
Shewing how to make wine,  That it may
continue good and faint not, Neither become
sower, nor loose colour.  And how you
may remedie faint Wine, take away
the hoarinesse, with other
instructions for the
preservation of
the same.

Written first in Italian, and now newly translated
into English, by W.P.



Printed by Adam Islip for Edward
White, and are to be sold at his shop
at the little North dore of Pouls,
at the signe of the Gun.


Reprinted in 1995
The Caber Press
Portland, Oregon

Of the preparation for the Vintage, or gathering in of the grapes, where
Wine is made.

When the time of the vintage approcheth, you must prepare and make ready
the vessels in the places where the wines are used to be botled, & the
chests, baskets, presses, and other instruments that are fit for every kind
of worke belonging thereunto, according to the maner and diversities of the
places, the vessels ought likewise to be washed and made cleane, and looke
for old rushes that have beene long gathered, because they are better, &
indure longer then the new that are in a manner but halfe growne.

Of the time when the vintage or gathering of grapes
should be.

Some gather grapes before the berries bee ripe, and thereby make their wine
smal, weake, and not durable, others gather them late, and thereby doe not
onely hurt their vines, (their strength and vertue being already come
forth) but make their wine of lesse force, & not indure so long as
otherwise it would, so that for a generall rule to be observed, the time to
gather grapes is to be knowne, by the sight and tast of the same, for if
the kernell of the grape bee not green, but rather blacke, or of another
colour, then the grape wherein it groweth doth commonly bring forth, it is
a signe that it is ripe, there are some that crush the grape betweene their
fingers, and if the kernel come forth clean without any meat sticking upon
it, they say the grape is ripe, and that it should be gathered, but if the
kernell come forth with the meat upon it they say it is not ripe: some cut
a branch out of the stocke of a vine, that is thicke, and when a day or two
is past they looke if the place where the branch grew be in like manner as
it was when the branch was taken away, and if the other branches that were
about that place be not anything more growne, they make ready to gather
their grapes, but if the place where the branch grew be less then it was,
they stay gathering their grapes till such time the grapes ware riper.

Grapes ought to be gathered when the moone is in Cancer, Leo, Libra,
Scorpion, Capricornus, or Aquarius, but the moon going out of those signes,
they must make hast to gather their grapes.  They should be gathered after
three or four of the clocke, when the dew is all consumed, and dried up, &
that the aire is hote and cleare, & the wine will be the stronger, and
indure the longer: the grapes that shine and are not fat, that are not
withered, nor rotten in anie part, make the wine stronger, and continueth
better , and the contrarie work the contrarie effect.  Grapes that are over
ripe make the wine the sweeter, but lesse in strength, and continueth not
so long as those that are first gathered.  The grapes that are over soure,
make the wine so much the sourer: but those that are indifferent make the
wine strong, & continue better: if the black grapes be boiled in the
bottome of the vessel, the wine will be the redder: if the ripe bee lowest,
it make the wine the riper: if the soure, it maketh the wine soure, if they
be boiled with hony it will be sweet: if with sage, it will tast thereof:
and for a generall rule, the wine receiveth the tast of the thing that is
put into it, boiling moderately together for certaine daies.  If the grapes
that are gathered lie certaine daies in heapes together, the wine will be
the riper: if the Must boileth in the tun without grapes, it will be good
and continue long, but it will be longer before it waxeth cleare then that
which boileth with grapes.

How grapes should be gathered and dressed to make wine.

They put the grapes into the baskets, doe part and chuse out the leaves,
and if they find any branches or berries that are bitter, putrified or
drie, they cast them away: it is requisit likewise that such as tread the
grapes, do take out the leaves, if those that put them in out of the
baskets, do chance to forget themselves, the leaves brused with the wine,
make it the sourer, and sooner to corrupt and become faultie: & of the
grapes that are soure, putrified and drie, there proceedeth great domage
unto the wine.

How to purge wine, that is made of soure grapes.

It is good to separate all the soure grapes, likewise such as are corrupt,
and keepe them by themselves from the better sort, and the Must that is
made of such grapes, is cured in this manner: seeth raine water till it
consumeth half away, and of this sodden water put thereof into the the
wine, as much as you esteem to be the tenth part of the Must, and then
boile it againe with the wine, til the tenth part consumeth in the boiling.

To cure the wine that is faulty by reason of raine water
fallen upon it.

If the grapes growing yet upon the vine, or after they be gathered, be
moist and wetter then they should be, by reason of the water and raine
fallen upon them, if you perceive the Must be too weake, (which is knowne
by tasting thereof) after it is put into the vessell, presently after the
first boiling, you may poure it out into other vessels, because that all
the slime and thicknes by reason of the weight thereof sinketh to the
bottome: some boile it upon the fire til it consumeth the twentie part,
putting into it the hundreth part of gesso.

How to put Must into the vessels.

It is good to wash the vessels with pure salt water, and make them cleane
with a spunge & perfume them with insence before the Must be put into them,
but fill them not too full, nor yet too little, but doe it with a meane,
boiling the Must till it rise up unto the top, but not run over, then with
your hands or else with glasses (when the Must is in the vessels) take away
the froth or any other skum that riseth upon it, & cast it far off from the
vat, for if it lieth neere, it ingendreth hoarines and causeth a filthy
smell, which two thinges make the wine to turne, wherefore it is convenient
that in such places there be a sweet smell.

How you must keepe Must all the yeare.

Before the grapes are stamped, put the Must that commeth from them, (the
same day it is made) in a vessel by it selfe, which shall be well clensed
both within and without, fill the vessell halfe full, and stop it well with
gesso, because the Must may continue sweet a long time, but it you put the
vessell (being stopped with copper) into a wel, it will continue much
longer, because that not being able to boile, it will alwaies bee Must.

How to know if there be water in the wine or Must, and how to seperate the
one from the other.

Put into the Must either peares, or mulberries, and if there be water in
the wine or must they will sinke unto the bottome, and if there be none,
they will swim on the top: others put the wine into a new earthen pot, not
washed, & let it continue therein for the space of two daies that the water
may distil out of the pot, and nothing remaine but the wine: others
annointing a spunge with oile, stop the mouth of the vessell therewith, and
then turne it cleane over, and if there be water in the wine, it will soake
into the spunge. Water is taken from wine in this maner, put alum into the
wine vesell, then stop the mouth of the vessell with a spunge dipped in
oile, then turn it in such sort, that there may nothing but water issue

When you shall draw or rack wine, and open the vessels.

You must racke wine when the wind is in the North, but never when it is in
the South, the weakest in the spring time, the strongest in the summer, but
those wines that grow in dry places, shall be racked after the sunne is in
the equinoxiall hivernall.  When wine is racked the Moone being in the
full, it maketh it sharp: when wine is taken from his lees it maketh it
more subtill and weake: it is necessarie to racke wine when the Moone
increaseth, and is under the earth, and to observe the rising of the stars,
because the lees (when the stars rise) doth move & stir up, especially when
roses bud forth, and vines begin to spring, when the vessell is opened, it
is good to spend the wine that is on the top of the vessell, and that which
is in the bottome, and to keep that which is in the middle thereof, because
it is of more strength, and continueth longest, for the wine that is neer
unto the mouth of the vessell, as being neerest unto the aire, is weaker,
because it casteth foorth a vapor from it, & that which is in the bottome,
is in the lees, doth soone decay.

It is requisite when the wine is drawne into other vessels, not to let it
run at the mouth of the vessels, but somewhat lower, that it stop not at
the mouth, but have some aire in the running out, least you feare it will
become soure, which if you doubt, let it not take any aire, but make the
vent of greene willowes, the bark or outward peele scraped cleane away: if
you open the vat by day, you must beware that the heat of the sun touch not
the wine, and if you open it by night, you must keepe the light of the
Moone from it, and when the vats are emptie, you must wash them presently
with salt water, and ashes, or drie them with clay earth, if the wine be
weake, but if it be very strong, it is sufficient to close it up on all
sides, because the smell and strength of the wine preserveth the vessels.

What time and how you shall tast wine.

Some tast wines when the wind bloweth in the North, but it is better to
tast when it bloweth in the East, because the Eastwind moveth the wine
more, and sheweth what it is.  It is not good to tast wine being fasting,
because it spoileth the tast, neither is it good to tast it after much meat
or drink.  Further, he that tasteth wine, must not have eaten any bitter or
salt meat, nor have eaten much, but a little meat, & that it be digested.
Some seeking to deceive those that buy wine, take a new vessell, which they
dip into old wine that is good, and hath a good smell, and then put that
wine into it that they meane to sell, which I set downe to give you
instructions that you be not deceived.

How to know wines that will indure and continue long.

Herein you must have care oftentimes to smell unto your wines, least there
bee any alteration in the lees, ingendring hoarines or white mouldines that
groweth under the buts, or divers other like things, because that such
things are signes that the wine decaieth, but if no such things appear, it
is to be judged that the wine will continue long.  Some botle a little
wine, and being cold, they tast it and as they find that in the tast,  so
they esteme the rest of the wine will fall out in goodnes, but it is
requisite to tast the wine in the middle of the but.

Of divers infections that happen unto wine.

It happeneth unto wine by meanes of the corrupt waterishnes that is in the
vines, or in the vessels, that it infecteth and spoileth by divers meanes,
wrought in it by the strange heat thereof, as you shall perceive, for if
there fal unto it a little lees, or a little wine that hath lees in it, and
bee put into the vessell without opening it, it will convert into hoarines,
and infect the wine: besides this, all other wine that is put into it, is
thereby infected.  And if any of that wine be put into a good butt, or be
mingled with other wine, it both infect it, and converteth it into the same
corrupt nature: further, wine that is perfect good & strong, & especiallie
that which is sweet above measure, when the weather is hote, the vessel not
being ful, and not close above, the heat and moistnes thereof issueth
forth, the coldnes and driness thereof remaining, whereby it turneth to be

At what time wine doth soone change, and corrupt.

All wines doe oftentimes change in the rising of Charles waine, and in the
Solstitio estinall, and in the dog daies, which commonly are called Cumina,
and generally when the wind is westwardly, and in heat, or frost, or in
great tempests, or by overmuch wind, or by earthquakes, or thunders, or at
the springing of roses and of vines.

How to prevent the changing of wine.

Salt burned, and put into wine, doth keep it from changing, and that it
boileth not by more than it should, nor that it riseth with any great scum:
put sweet almonds into black grapes, and letting them stand, they conserve
the wine.  Grapes being gathered, the kernels taken forth and mixed with
sand, and put into the Must, or wine being sodden, maketh it fat, and
indure long.  Gesso when it is first put into the wine maketh it bitter,
but in time, the bitternesse goeth away, and the Gesso worketh this effect,
that the wine indureth a long time, & suffereth it not to change: the
quantitie that must bee put in, if the wine bee small and of a humide tast,
or troubled with tempests, is the hundreth part of Gesso.  But if it bee
strong by reason of the strength, the halfe of an hundreth part of gesso
will serve.

Wines that change being taken from their infected lees, and put unto the
lees of good wine, they will indure long. Some men put into wine the fruit
of the Cedar tree, well brused to pouder, and therewith doe mingle gaules
likewise brused to pouder.  Some beating the ashes of a vine being burnt,
with fennel seed, mixing them together, doe put them into wine.  Others put
the wine that changeth into other vessels, & remove it into another house,
for if it be hurt by reason of heat, they remove it into a fresher place,
and if it spoile by reason of the humiditie and coldnes of the place, where
it is, they put it in some other place that is drier and hote.  Clay put
into wine after it hath botled, doth purge it, drawing downe with it the
infection thereof into the lees but if it be stamped it maketh the wine of
good favor, and sweet, because the birds that eat of it in winter time, are
preserved therby and live, for it comforteth the wine and maketh it
continue long.  A little yvie both black and white put into wine, maketh it
continue, the like doth sodden wine, mixing a third part thereof in the
must.  Wheat flower maketh it durable.  The root of the pine tree, keepeth
wine from changing.

An excellent infection to preserve wine, which is called

Take two ounces of Aloes, two ounces of insence, & two ounces of amomo,
bind all these fast in a linnen cloath, & put them into the vessel after
the wine is therein, and that it hath purged, and of this mixture, put into
each vessel a measure called a cluchiero, full, then shake it out of the
cloath, & leave the pouder in the wine, and three daies after do it again
with roots of canes.

To keepe wine from changing.

Let it boile two or three daies in the grapes & draw it out in the month of
Februarie, and of this boile the third part & mix them together, then into
twelve corses of wine put a common poringerful of salt.  Or doe it in this
sort, and it will be excellent and pleasant to drinke what wine soever it
bee: scum the grapes, and all the wine that is not boiled with the grapes
boile it on the fire, and scum it, and so put it in the vessell.

How to remedie wine that is changed.

Temper wine that is turned or changed, with a good quantitie of hony,
throwing it into the vessell wherein the wine is.  Then stir it in the butt
with a sticke, at the bung, letting it remaine so, and the wine will cleare
it selfe, by reason the honny maketh the dregs that are in the wine to
descend into the bottome: it is good to put into the vessell where the wine
is changed (at the time when grapes are gathering) divers berries of
grapes, which shall lie therein in steed of the mother, because those
grapes, after a certaine time, will turne the wine that is changed, to his
right goodnes and favor.  And before you doe any thing unto wine that is
changed, you must draw it foorth and take it from the infected lees.  Also
put the wine into vessels out of which wine hath ben newly taken forth,
that it may clarefie therein, and let it remaine therein as long as it is
needfull, but if there be any quantitie of wine, it must not bee done all
at one time, but a little at once, that the wine doe not extinguish the
heat of the grapes and hinder not the boiling thereof, wherein it
clarefieth, and how little a time the Must continueth in the grapes, so
much the stronger it worketh,

Wine is clarefied & made good when you beat twentie graines of pepper and
twentie pestachie, putting thereto a little wine, then put afterward
thereto sixe cesternes of Wine, having first stirred everything together,
then letting them rest quietly, that they may worke, a foggie wine is
presently cleare, if in a sexter of wine you put seven kernels of a pine
aple, stirring them often, and then letting them stand, by little and
little the Wine will clarefie, that you may draw it and use it.  Some
clarefie it with white of egs, and with salt, but take white stones out of
a river and bake them in an oven till they begin to cracke, then beat them
into pouder, take likewise white salt beaten into small pouder, and in a
vessell of ten messers put six ounces of pouder of stones, & foure of salt,
and stirring them together, put the wine into the vessell, and if for every
measure you put therein two or three egs it will be good.  This may be done
likewise with the same stones not baked, being beaten to small pouder, and
without salt, and it shall bee good to put thereunto a little hony, because
hony that is red, restoreth the colour of white wine that hath lost the
colour, and hony is clammy, and heavy, and a preserver of all liquors. But
if the wine bee over much troubled and thicke, put thereto a little more of
each of the thinges aforesaid, because, by reason of the waight, do keepe
downe the lees, and drive the thickenesse to the bottome, that it can not
so easily rise up unto the top, and it giveth likewise no evill savour to
the wine. But if the wine be so much troubled, that being as it were rank
and in a manner fatty like oile, the naturall heat thereof being in a maner
wholy extinguished, then there is no remedie to be had, no more then for a

It will clarefy also in this maner, if you put into a vessel of forty
measures, twentie egs, which you must beat in a basen or boule with a clean
spoon, then put into them a poringer ful of Tartarum, & mingle them
together, adding thereto a little wine, then put it into the vessell, which
done, stir them well at the bung with a cloven woodden stick, & thrust it
oftentimes downe into the lees, then put it againe into the vessel, and
when it is clear take out al the thick matter on the sides of the vessell:
but you must understand, that into white wine you must only put white of
egs, but into claret or red both whites & yolks, and into Wine that is much
troubled, you must put in more quantitie: further in place of Tartarum, you
may put salt, and lastly there is put into the vessel a little clear water.
Wine is clarefied, and holpen of the il savor & changing, if in a vessel of
three measures, you put halfe a pound of cleare roch alum, & as much sucket
of roses, with eight pounds of hony.  In this maner, seeth the honny very
wel, & skim it, & when it is cold, put the alum into it, being beaten into
small pouder, and the sucket dissolved, which mingle all in a measure of
wine, then put them into the vessell, & stir them wel with a cloven stick,
& the vessell being open, let it stand so till the next day, & the second
or third day it will be cleare: but if the wine bee much troubled &
spoiled, put so much the more of the thinges aforesaid: nevertheles you
must understand that before you do it, you must draw the wine out into
another vessell, and take it from the infected lees.

How wine and the vessels are preserved from hoarines.

If wine be hoary or have any other evil savor, take a white grapes sprigs
with the roots, and set it in the ground under the butt, in such sort that
the roots may be right against the mouth upon the butt, & put the branches
in the wine a handfull deepe, at the bung above the butt, let it stand
there three daies, and till it looseth the evill savor.  Some take a white
grape branch & put the head of it into the vessell in place of the bung,
and set it on the ground, setting it fast that it stirreth not, and so the
hoarines daily issueth forth by the branch, by which meanes the evil savor
deminisheth.  For the same, take Medlers that are bitter, being hanged on
three or more packthrids, put them in at the bung that they may descend
into the wine, letting them remaine therein fifteene daies or a month, &
they remedie the wine & the vessel of the hoarines.  It is said likewise it
is done, if every morning and evening there bee hanged in the wine a bundle
of sage, that toucheth not the wine, and being taken out againe, wash it in
water, stopping the bung well.

Take likewise a handfull of the hearbe called Nierella or Morella, and
being bound with a litle string, in the morning put it into the vessell at
the bung, that it descend not into the wine above two fingers deep, and the
cord being made fast upon the vessell, stop the vessell hard, and let it
hang therein the space of one day, and at night take it out, putting other
fresh hearbs therein, letting them remaine therein till the next day in the
morning, which you must do for three or foure daies one after the other.
Those vessels that are hoarie are cured in this maner, put a quantitie of
sleacked lime, into a butt of twelve baskets, and put into the same butt
being stopped, either boiled water or wine, & let it bee so well stopped
that no aire issue forth.  Let it stand a little space, then roule it up
and downe divers times: that done, open it, and let the liquor that is in
it issue forth, & wash the butt againe with cold water.  Or otherwise, put
gineper (being sodden in a chaldron of wine, and that is seething hote)
into the vessels, & do as I said before, and it will be better, if both the
remedies be used one after the other, that is, the second after the first.
In the same maner, the fats are remedied, but because they cannot bee
stopped in such sort as the buts may be, they are covered with clothes, so
that they cannot send foorth any aire: the buts are preserved from
mouldinesse, if when they are to be emptied, they stand open untill there
bee but a smal quantitie of wine in them, and that they bee very well
dried, and after that well washed with salt water, or wine, or else not
emptieng foorth that little quantitie of Wine that is in them, the butt
being wel stopped, that the smell or sent may not issue forth.


Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR  97217



"The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne."
Chaucer  _Parlement of Foules_  1386

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