“No Thank You … I Don’t Like Sweet Wines”
Mead is being rediscovered worldwide as a delightful alternative to beer or wine. Mead is currently the fastest growing segment of the Adult Beverage market, with a new meadery opening somewhere in the United States every three days on average. There’s also lot of confusion about mead, and plenty of misconceptions about the mead experience.
Mead is simply a wine made from honey instead of grapes. It is probably mankind’s most ancient alcoholic beverage. Mead was mentioned in the Rig Veda 3,500 years ago, and despite its Viking/Renaissance Festival connotations, mead transcends national and geographic boundaries. Mead is found anywhere honey is found, and one of the world’s great meads is Tej, the legendary mead of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Mead doesn’t have to be sweet. In the same way wine is not sweet like grape juice and beer is not sweet like malted barley, our mead is not sweet like honey; the sweetness of honey is transformed into alcohol, leaving behind a host of subtle flavors captured from the millions of flowers visited by the bees.
And like wine, meads possess a distinctive terroir. That terroir is shaped by weather, by what is flowering at the moment, by which plants give up their nectar and which plants give up their pollen. A beehive will yield pale yellow honey in spring; a rich golden honey in summer and a deep red honey in autumn, each with unique notes of the season and local flora. And as with wine, meads can have varietals made with honey from a single type of blossom; orange blossom honey, tupelo honey and mesquite honey are just a few of the varietal honeys which yield delicate varietal meads.
Our meads are mostly dry to very dry, in a style known as Hydromel, Short Mead, Small Mead or Melomel (indicating mead with fruit added). They aren’t the potent, syrupy-sweet draughts of the brawling mead-halls of legend. Rather, we think of them as session meads–light, dry, effervescent drinks of modest alcohol content perfectly appropriate after mowing the lawn or to accompany a fine meal. Special? Absolutely. Precious? No way. Enjoy … that special occasion is right now.