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View Full Version : Equinox Tasting Party - Brainstorming Help



balath
06-10-2013, 01:28 PM
Hello, GotMead. I'm finally making my first post here after months of lurking without an account, using the very fine calculator, and perusing your resources.

My mead making is coming along quite well (http://i.imgur.com/TvlFj50.jpg), and I am eager to share it with my friends. To that end, I am hosting a special early tasting party for my closest friends, a few people I know who've made mead themselves, and some whom I believe capable of providing valuable feedback. The total in attendance will be 12-15.

The event isn't until September. It will begin with a tasting in the afternoon, then a bring-your-own-steak-and-we'll-bbq-it, pasta, and mead dinner, and wrap up with drinking around the backyard fire pit.

I expect to open for tasting about 6-8 meads which will be 3-6 months old. These meads belong to experimental batches for the most part, with a few coming from batches that won't be sampled again until they are a year old.

I plan to provide honey samples first, on clear plastic spoons (to best show color), presented in order of weaker to stronger flavor. Next, (after a bit of palette-cleansing water) I wish to proceed with the meads, from dry to sweet, presented in small snifters to really focus the aroma. As I offer each sample I want to talk about my process, ingredients I used, problems I had, and so forth. (I have detailed logs.) I also intend to have a variety of food pairings as appropriate for the mead - smokey, salty, sweet, fatty, savory, etc.

After the tasting, we'll collectively decide what was best-liked and open a few of those for dinner and general drinking.

I'm looking for other neat ideas to include, specifically ideas to open people up to providing good feedback and getting involved in conversation. I thought about giving out scorecards, for instance, but I doubt that I want their heads down over worksheets, or that they'll find that entertaining. I also considered giving them an assortment of possible pairings for one of the meads and letting them experiment.

I'm sure that by late September we'll all be starting to feel that Autumnal disquiet that accompanies the approach of winter. Including seasonal foods and decor is definitely on the table. I could mull some mead, for instance, if the evening is cool enough. What else can I do that's in-season?

I've also thought about getting a few bottles of some of the locally available commercial meads to taste for comparison. I could also include a dry chardonnay for the purpose of contrasting between a dry mead and dry wine. I don't want to take the focus off my work, though.

Any ideas or feedback?

Gripes or feelings you just want to share?

Jim H
06-10-2013, 04:25 PM
Well, geez, can I come? :D

I agree that worksheets aren't that much fun, unless you keep them REALLY simple, such as (1) rate this mead from 1-5 and (2) what's the best or the worst thing about this mead? You could also hand out marbles, and people vote by putting them in a cup representing each mead (the most marbles "wins"). More than that and it might be too much like homework.

Comparing against wine might be interesting, but there are so many dry Chardonnays. Which one would you choose, and is that representative? If you really want to compare, serve the store bought mead. To make things really interesting, don't disclose which is your mead. But, consider how you might feel if everyone likes the store-bought? If it would upset you, don't do it.

If you have clear snifters, just provide white sheets of paper for tasters to hold their glass up to, you don't need plastic spoons.

BBQ and mead... hope you have lots of fun!

balath
06-10-2013, 04:41 PM
Thanks Jim! Quick note, though, I'm using the clear spoons to serve honey samples, not mead.

I think I will get some commercial mead to compare against, but won't do a blind tasting. Not that I'm worried about how mine will stack up, but because I believe the commercial meads available here are fairly distinctive and my friends would probably be able to pull them out of a lineup anyway.

I'd invite the entire world if I had enough mead to share. :-(

TheAlchemist
06-10-2013, 08:05 PM
If your meads will be only 3-6months of age, I'd suggest planning another event for the Vernal...so your esteemed guests can give you feedback on how much better your meads are with age.

I did a family tasting of Servus iCyser at 6 months and everyone loathed it. But at the following tasting 6 months later it was the favourite of 2.

balath
06-10-2013, 08:35 PM
I'd suggest planning another event for the Vernal...so your esteemed guests can give you feedback on how much better your meads are with age.

That is a damned fine idea, Alchie. They'll get another taste around Yule, actually, and then as they batches each age to one year. I'll keep a Vernal Tasting in mind.

Oskaar
06-12-2013, 04:05 PM
Hello, GotMead. I'm finally making my first post here after months of lurking without an account, using the very fine calculator, and perusing your resources.

Glad you decided to join up Welcome to GotMead.Com!



My mead making is coming along quite well (http://i.imgur.com/TvlFj50.jpg), and I am eager to share it with my friends. To that end, I am hosting a special early tasting party for my closest friends, a few people I know who've made mead themselves, and some whom I believe capable of providing valuable feedback. The total in attendance will be 12-15.

The event isn't until September. It will begin with a tasting in the afternoon, then a bring-your-own-steak-and-we'll-bbq-it, pasta, and mead dinner, and wrap up with drinking around the backyard fire pit.

I expect to open for tasting about 6-8 meads which will be 3-6 months old. These meads belong to experimental batches for the most part, with a few coming from batches that won't be sampled again until they are a year old.

I plan to provide honey samples first, on clear plastic spoons (to best show color), presented in order of weaker to stronger flavor. Next, (after a bit of palette-cleansing water) I wish to proceed with the meads, from dry to sweet, presented in small snifters to really focus the aroma. As I offer each sample I want to talk about my process, ingredients I used, problems I had, and so forth. (I have detailed logs.) I also intend to have a variety of food pairings as appropriate for the mead - smokey, salty, sweet, fatty, savory, etc.

I'd suggest a little change here. Do this with the bottles in a bag and no introduction as to what they are or how they were made. This is a good way to get unvarnished comments and spark conversation about each mead. Then you can do the reveal once you have tasted that particular mead.

It might be fun to ask everyone around the table to think of one color, aroma and flavor that jumps out at them and go around the table to see what everyone saw, smelled and tasted. You can do that for each of the meads and get some really great insight as to what your target audience thinks about the mead. It really gets the conversation going and sparks interest in finding tastes that you wouldn't normally sense. Everyone has gaps in their taste buds, some people are more sensitive to certain colors, aromas and flavors than others.


After the tasting, we'll collectively decide what was best-liked and open a few of those for dinner and general drinking.

I'm looking for other neat ideas to include, specifically ideas to open people up to providing good feedback and getting involved in conversation. I thought about giving out scorecards, for instance, but I doubt that I want their heads down over worksheets, or that they'll find that entertaining. I also considered giving them an assortment of possible pairings for one of the meads and letting them experiment.

I'm sure that by late September we'll all be starting to feel that Autumnal disquiet that accompanies the approach of winter. Including seasonal foods and decor is definitely on the table. I could mull some mead, for instance, if the evening is cool enough. What else can I do that's in-season?

I've also thought about getting a few bottles of some of the locally available commercial meads to taste for comparison. I could also include a dry chardonnay for the purpose of contrasting between a dry mead and dry wine. I don't want to take the focus off my work, though.

Any ideas or feedback?

Gripes or feelings you just want to share?

I think for the first meeting you should keep it simple. Work with what you have and then in subsequent settings you can add a ringer, some wine, etc.

Most importantly be ready for criticism and take it well. Everyone thinks they make great mead and expect that others will agree. If you do get some criticisms, take them with grace and thank your guests. They're not being rude by telling you what they think, they're being honest. I've run into a number of people over the years who only heard the compliments and not the criticisms and it shows in their product.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

balath
06-12-2013, 06:34 PM
Hi Oskaar! I had to join; you all make a fella feel so welcome.

I like the post-taste reveal idea, but the people I've invited all have access to my mazer log! They've had various meads before, too, so they will be coming in with some idea of what to expect. I think I'll be prepared to do it, but will just ask them if that sounds fun when the day comes around.

I'll definitely do a variant on the color/aroma/flavor question after each mead in a round-the-table fashion.

Lastly, I invited people I knew I could trust to be critical. Several of them even critiqued my writing back in college! They've all had mead before (some, regularly), and I think they have a wide variety of tastes in terms of sweetness, mouthfeel, and acidity preferences.

Question - where does one draw the line between criticism and taste? I know not every mead will please every person, even if it's technically well-made. I guess it's a judgement call for me, considering their known tastes and weighing criticism accordingly?

Oskaar
06-16-2013, 03:00 PM
Hi Oskaar! I had to join; you all make a fella feel so welcome.

I like the post-taste reveal idea, but the people I've invited all have access to my mazer log! They've had various meads before, too, so they will be coming in with some idea of what to expect. I think I'll be prepared to do it, but will just ask them if that sounds fun when the day comes around.

I'll definitely do a variant on the color/aroma/flavor question after each mead in a round-the-table fashion.

Lastly, I invited people I knew I could trust to be critical. Several of them even critiqued my writing back in college! They've all had mead before (some, regularly), and I think they have a wide variety of tastes in terms of sweetness, mouthfeel, and acidity preferences.

Question - where does one draw the line between criticism and taste? I know not every mead will please every person, even if it's technically well-made. I guess it's a judgement call for me, considering their known tastes and weighing criticism accordingly?

To me, in judging or even tasting, criticism is something like "Oooo this tastes like listerine..." Criticism is something people do every day in all kinds of way without any context. It's not right or wrong, it's just human nature to criticize. I separate that from people who have had experience or even training in how to judge or taste wine, beer mead, spirits, olive oil, coffee, cigars, etc.

When you get right down to it I see it as the different between observation and criticism. Observation being "Floral notes, some citrus, stone fruit and mineral characters. . . " while criticism is more like "too flowery, nasty honey flavor, it burns my tongue. . . "

Basically I draw the line at observation and avoid criticism wherever possible.

Hope that helps,

Pete

balath
06-21-2013, 11:53 AM
I think we just have a different vocabulary. One of my college majors was English Literature, and "criticism" would mean "literary criticism," which meant an in-depth examination of the work.

Those I invited, for the most part, know how to taste wine and observe. Still seems like they'll have different experiences based upon their preferences, especially regarding acidity and dryness.