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CBiebel
02-16-2009, 10:59 PM
I know that most people here talk about aging mead quite a bit and that it's considered something that ages well.

I was wondering how well in general does it age?

For instance, I remember reading that even though people talk about aged wine all the time, the fact of the matter is that about 90% of the wines produced are meant to be drunk within a year of release and that less than 1% of wines are meant to be aged more than 5 years.

So what percentage of meads can be aged more than 5 years? Obviously I realize that it will depend on the style. For instance a weaker Braggot or traditional mead (less than 8%) won't hold up, but for most meads out there (in the over 10% range, say) are they generally more ageable than wines? Or is it just that most wines made today are made in such a way to make them more accessible young at the expense of ageability?

WRATHWILDE
02-16-2009, 11:26 PM
See this thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13596&highlight=alcohol+sugar+formula) Medsen Fey Posted up some excellent info.

Cheers,
Wrathwilde

CBiebel
02-17-2009, 01:17 AM
See this thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13596&highlight=alcohol+sugar+formula) Medsen Fey Posted up some excellent info.

Cheers,
Wrathwilde

Thanks. That gave some good info, but didn't really answer the question. Most wines have ABVs over 10%, yet they don't age well.

Is there some aspect of honey that makes it more able to age in mead? I know that there is the whole hydrogen peroxide thing, but could it be that honey's initial resistance to micro-organisms relative to grape's not being so can be a difference?

BTW, trying to search "mead" and "aging" produced way to many posts to be able to sort through... ;-)

Oskaar
02-17-2009, 02:52 AM
I know that most people here talk about aging mead quite a bit and that it's considered something that ages well.

I was wondering how well in general does it age?

For instance, I remember reading that even though people talk about aged wine all the time, the fact of the matter is that about 90% of the wines produced are meant to be drunk within a year of release and that less than 1% of wines are meant to be aged more than 5 years.

So what percentage of meads can be aged more than 5 years? Obviously I realize that it will depend on the style. For instance a weaker Braggot or traditional mead (less than 8%) won't hold up, but for most meads out there (in the over 10% range, say) are they generally more ageable than wines? Or is it just that most wines made today are made in such a way to make them more accessible young at the expense of ageability?

Can you cite a verifiable reference for that please? I'm curious what publication that came from.

Cheers, Oskaar

CBiebel
02-17-2009, 04:17 AM
Can you cite a verifiable reference for that please? I'm curious what publication that came from.

Cheers, Oskaar

Sure. Kevin Zraly's "Complete Wine Course."
Here is the specific context (in a FAQ of sorts to start the book):

Page 6:

"Are all wines meant to be aged?"

No. It's a common misconception that all wines improve with age. In fact more than 90 percent of the wines made in the world should be consumed within one year, and less than 1 percent of the world's wines should be aged for more than five years.

Oskaar
02-17-2009, 04:52 AM
Great thanks!

I've spoken with a number of people who don't even make wine that will argue until they're blue in the face that wine needs to lay down for years and years. I've found this to be pretty commonly held among casual wine enthusiasts. Generally the length of time a bottle needs to mature, soften and develop character is largely dependent on the fermentation and aging management. Acid and Tannin play a key role here and the higher the tannin and acid, the more time is necessary for a wine to develop.

Most of my stuff is ready to drink a year past racking out of the barrels and into bottles, or tanks (we mostly use tanks in our family). People just look at me when I tell them that the wine is only 12 - 18 months old. The user of enological enzymes, cold settling, and various other fermentation and aging management techniques has really minimized the time a well made wine from premium quality grapes has to age before it is ready to drink. I'm also a big believer in decanting.

There's a new device on the wine scene called the Vinturi that basically accelerates the wine and causes it to take on oxygen as it runs though it. The wine comes out well aerated and noticeably softer and more open.

Anyhow, thanks for the reference again. I'll have something to point my "wine-snob" friends to since their eyes tend to glaze over when I start talking about processing and such.

Cheers, Oskaar

Medsen Fey
02-17-2009, 01:23 PM
Mead aging is a topic I hope to learn much about in the coming years. I really look forward to tasting the changes over time in some of my batches. I want to know which meads age the best over time and there is nothing like tasting firsthand to answer that question. I'll let you know what I think in about 10 years. ;D

Can some meads age well? undoubtedly. The traditional sack meads made by Brother Adam (SG no greater than 1.120) were aged, and according to him needed 7 years in oak casks to reach their peak before bottling, and after that, they would keep indefinitely. His light weight table mead (7.5-8% ABV)was aged for 5 years minimum. I wonder if they took on a sherry-like character in that time. This leads me to believe that a traditional mead, even without sulfites, may have an extremely long lifespan if properly stored.

In the Mead lover's digest archives (the main GotMead site has great stuff other than these wonderful forums), there is discussion about the Chouchen (meads) of the Brittany region of France. Often these traditional meads are made with a blend of honey and use Chablis yeast. While many are consumed young, they may be aged like Grand Cru Bordeaux whites.

There are some threads discussing very old Polish meads and their wonderful qualities if you do a search.

Some Metheglins will certainly be age-worthy. Check this thread by Ken Schramm (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12559&highlight=decant+youthful) discussing a 15 year old mead.

Does this mean most meads can age for a long time? I doubt it.

With some of my fruit meads, like many fruit wines, I have seen oxidation in as little as a year which is why I am becoming much more aggressive in the use of sulfites for my melomels. I am sure some of these melomels will not age so well, but I am curious to see which ones do. I suspect that dark berry melomels with plenty of tannin should, and perhaps some that are very high in acid may, but again, I hope to see for myself.

The aging project I am most curious about are my Meadeiras as described in the Patron's Brewlogs. After treating these meads with the cooking process used for Madeira wines, I expect they will be impervious to heat, oxidation and spoilage, and they may have a lifespan of decades (if not centuries). Whether they will taste good or not is currently the bigger question.

I am very curious to hear what other people are experiencing with aging mead, and in particular, which factors have produced the age-worthiness.

Medsen

CBiebel
02-17-2009, 02:01 PM
Just a quick minor correction. I believe the book is actually called "Windows on the World: Complete Wine Course."

Xixist
02-20-2009, 06:03 AM
This brings to mind an instant several years ago where I was present for the opening of a bottle of wine from 1928. Sediment had formed at the bottom but the liquid was clear and pleasant to smell. Don't ask the name or type as I was not at liberty to know but what I can say is the wine had taken on a flavor beyond any 'wine'. It had a subtle sweetness and the slightly fruit-like flavor sort of magically soaked into the palate. I have never tasted anything I might compare it to.
I expected vinegar and got something special.
Xixist

Fox Hill Mead
02-20-2009, 11:20 AM
A few thoughts on aging:

I've rarely tasted an over-aged mead in the sense that an off-flavor developed. I'm sure it happens, but I'm guessing it is more unusual than in grape wines.

Many meadmakers seem to believe that age will cure problems in their meads when that is rarely the case. Age may soften some off-flavors, but any real problems will still be there.

I've also had meads over a decade old that were not very good, but didn't really have any off-flavors. They were just never any good and never would be.

I totally agree with Pete and the aging conceptions that seem pervasive (particularly with grape wines). I've given up trying to convince the grape wine crowd anything about aging.

Metheglins are an interesting animal. Aging of certain herbs and spices are pronounced. Flavors come to the fore, go through sharp and round periods, and blend together differently through the years.

Decant, decant, decant!!!