Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Mead

If you are a history buff or an avid player of World of Warcraft, you've heard of mead.  You might have images of Baltic warriors kicking back with a goblet of mead.  Many literary references have characters drinking mead including Tolkien and Paolini. But, what is mead?
Mead is a fermented wine made from honey, yeast and water.  The yeast and bacteria do the fermenting, but the addition of fruit skins can contribute to the process.
Mead can be high in alcohol content and can be distilled to liqueur strength!
And there are many variations and additives, here are just a few.
With the addition of:
apples and cinnamon, it is called cyser or apple metheglin
spices is called metheglin
raspberries, blackberries or strawberries is called melomel
grape juice is called pyment
chili peppers is called capsicumel
honey and wine vinegar is called oxymel
rose hips or rose petals is called rhodomel

There are as many varieties of mead as there are cultures who create it!
Balche is a Mexican version of mead. Chouchenn is made in Brittany. Czworniak and Dwojnaik are made in Poland, Dadnaghare is made in Nepal. Gverc is made in Croatia. Myod is Russian. Pitarrilla is Mayan. Sima is Finnish. Tej is Ethiopian.

My brother gave us a bottle of mead produced by a meadery in NH, Moonlight Meadery.  They make 18 varieties of mead, all with romantic (sometimes kinky) names such as Wild (honey and blueberries) Blissful (honey, black currants, blueberries, black raspberries) Kurt's Apple Pie (apple cider, Madagascar bourbon vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon, Kamasumatra (honey with vanilla and coffee) and more.  They have been making mead for 16 years and won numerous awards.  They give out a lot of information about their meads, including the local sources for their ingredients, the alcohol content and suggested food pairings. They are open for tastings and tours.  Their mead is sold in the state liquor stores, some grocery stores and online.
I thought the mead was quite interesting. I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch, so I don't feel I can do the mead justice by my description. But, the mead we tasted was Blissful.  It was very "heavy" tasting. I took small sips and really could detect the currants and black raspberries. It was a sweet wine and reminded me of a very sweet dessert wine I had as a child, when I visited my great aunt Finetta in Italy. It was very clean tasting and sweet.  It was also high in alcohol content 15% and between being tired from New Year's Eve and the two sips of mead, I became drowsy! It was quite fun to try it!

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