Today I would like to introduce you to Martin Jackson from Honey Wines Australia who has kindly put together this 101 Guide to Mead especially for all you Travelling Corkscrew readers. Enjoy guys!
What is Mead?
Putting it simply, mead is honey wine. It’s honey and water mixed together, which is then fermented by yeast.
Mead has its own distinct taste, most similar to a medium sweet wine. It has a similar texture to sherry, and there’s a distinct tone of honey throughout, which I’m sure is to be expected! Mead has been around for a very long time, having been enjoyed by many people throughout history.
It’s now making a speedy comeback by becoming a popular drink to share amongst friends and family. Mead ranges from 5.5% to 20.5% of alcohol.
A Brief History of Mead
Often considered the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage, Mead has been dated back to the ancient cultures of China, India, Greece and Egypt. The earliest evidence of mead being drunk is in India and China around 4000 years ago!
The ancient Greeks called mead ambrosia or nectar and it was believed to be the drink of the gods, descended from the Heavens as dew, before being gathered in by the bees. Due to this, it was considered that mead had magical properties and that it would prolong life and bestow health amongst other qualities.
Moving to a more present day impact that mead has had on society, the very term “honeymoon” comes from the ancient Viking tradition of giving bridal couples a month’s worth, referred to as a ‘moon’s worth’, of honey–wine.
How is Mead Made?
To make mead, you blend honey and water to form a ‘must,’ which is what the watered down honey liquid is called before fermentation. ‘Must’ is also used in wine and cider making.
Once you have prepared the must, yeast is added to convert the sugar from the honey into alcohol. Since honey alone is not the favourite food of yeast, you need to add nutrients during the fermentation so the yeast are happy and healthy, and so they don’t contribute unwanted flavours.
Fruits, spices and any other flavours you might want to experiment with can be added at any point during the fermentation process.
What Does Mead Taste Like?
It can range from sweet to dry. It can also be traditional (just honey, water and yeast), or it can include fruit, vegetable, spices, herbs or malted grains — like beer.
The flavour and scent of honey can change dramatically from beehives just a few kilometres apart. Depending on the flowers the bees collected nectar from honey can be sweet, fruity with floral scents, nutty or even bitter.
So even without adding additional flavourings to mead as a mead maker you could spend a lifetime experimenting with just all the different honeys alone.
Is Mead Healthy?
One must tread very carefully when making any health claims, I don’t think anyone could say any variety of alcohol is beneficial to health without studies to back it up.
We can comment on what we do know and that is, that honey is known to have health benefits, it is rich in antioxidants which have been shown to lower blood pressure. Honey has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Studies have suggested it has brain related benefits such as helping to fight inflammation of the hippocampus which is related to memory. Due to primarily being honey, water and alcohol, many people consider mead to be healthier than other forms of alcohol.
We hope this article has taught you everything you wanted to learn about Mead! If you’re wanting to shop around for different flavours of Mead, let us know at Honey Wines Australia!