Yes, you read that correctly. Just because it is made from honey doesn’t mean it has to be sweet! Think about it, grape wine starts off as sweet grape juice, but the finished wine in most cases is dry. That is because, during fermentation, the yeast is reducing the sweetness by consuming those sugars and creating alcohol as a byproduct. Same thing with mead! At the end of the day, just like wine, the sweeter we start, the sweeter the final product. I hope that helped loosen some knots in your brain there.
Even traditional meads made from just honey and water can be made remarkably unique from one another depending on the honey varietal used. Just like how in the wine world, a different grape varietal makes a whole different final product in a wine, a different honey varietal will make a whole different final product in a mead. It all comes down to the nectar source of the honey. If the bees collect the majority of their nectar from orange blossoms, well, you’d then have orange blossom honey which can have some amazing floral and citrusy notes. That honey varietal would make a much different mead than one made with buckwheat honey which is very dark and reminiscent of molasses meets petting zoo. Yeah, I know, not cool.
This is a tricky one. Industry wise, these terms can be used interchangeably, but don’t be fooled. Most mass produced “honey wine” is usually a regular old white wine with honey added, masquerading as a mead. Proud meadery owners would rather call their products Mead, but sometimes, to get the point across quicker as to what they actually make, they might refer to it as honey wine, just for the sake of marketing purposes. In the end, mead is a fermented beverage made from at least 51% of its sugar sources coming from honey, not wine with honey added.
Mead can take on so many forms. It can be like wine, like beer or even like cider. The honey can be fermented with fruits, spices, and sometimes even other crazy creative ingredients. There are some meads we make that taste like apple pie and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for crying out loud. So when people ask us, “what does mead taste like”? Well, it can taste like whatever you want it to. Mead can vary in sweetness as well from dry, off-dry, semi-sweet or sweet. Generally speaking, it can be upwards of 18% abv or even as low as 3-4% alcohol. It can also be sparkling or still. The possibilities are endless. So much wiser you are now.
Just like with anything else, there are good meads and bad meads out there. Tasting one or two meads for the first time that didn’t tickle your fancy does not mean that is what all mead tastes like. I mean, we’ve all had a bad wine or beer. Did that ever make you write off an entire category of beverages? Of course not. So get out there and explore. There are amazing meads out there that are just waiting for you to find them. Pssst, a lot of them can be found right here on this site #shamelessplug
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