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Talon
02-10-2005, 09:24 AM
Hey all you more experienced guys! Gots some interresting questions for you.
I got my scoresheets back for my orangeblossom sweet and I'm not 100% pleased with some of the comments as I think some of the comments are from personal preference and others are from a lacking in the mead itself. Ultimately I'm looking to improve my recipe so that it does better than second runner up to best of show...

One says that the mead had no legs, the other said small legs. Okay, obviously alcohol is the influence here, but how is it the influence? Is it that it's more alcohol the wider the legs or less alcohol the faster the legs?

For the wildflower, they said they detected an alcohol note in the aroma. How can I get the alcohol smell either to not be there or mask it so that it's not noticeable while still allowing the full honey aroma to come through?

Thanks,
Talon.

Oskaar
02-10-2005, 02:04 PM
Legs are a product of alcohol (ethanol) in wine, mead, liquor, liqueuer, etc. which evaporates more quickly than water. This is called the Marangoni effect, in which alcohol crawls up the glass as it evaporates, but since there is a film of water on top, it is pushed up in an arch. Eventually gravity wins, the water's surface tension is broken, and down runs the water, in tears.

The more alcohol, the more legs. When you swirl your mead or wine, hold your glass up to the light and you'll see those little rivulets running down the sides of your glass. Mead will get leggier the more it is allowed to age.

Also, the alcohol in the nose will age out with time, generally oak cooperage is a good way to balance out the alcohol in the nose with aging. If you don't have barrels then you can add oak staves or cubes.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

Talon
02-10-2005, 02:07 PM
Absolutely! Thank you!

It's gotten me a better undersanding of what they were talking about and what I need to do to improve my recipe.

Talon.

jab
02-10-2005, 03:05 PM
If legs are related to alcohol how does a mean gain more through aging? I'm a little confused. Or is it more 'how' the alcohol reacts than how much alcohol?

Oskaar
02-11-2005, 01:02 AM
Sorry, that should have been not only due to alcohol, but the integration of the alcohol into the wine/mead, and the effects of aging/oxydation. As the wine/mead ages it tends to pick up more structure from from it's components, and the flavors (honey, spices, fruits, oak, acid, tannins, etc.) all seem to mesh more and more.

It's kind of like sipping a 1 year old Cabernet that burns the front of the tongue and sucks all the moisture out of your mouth, same with a very young Bourdeax. They're both very unstructured and un-complex at that point. As the wine/mead ages the acids, alcohols, esthers, tannins, etc seem to mellow and compliment one another. It just seems that the more chance that mead and wine have to age and mellow, the leggier they get.

I don't have a scientific explaination, but I can find one if you need one.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Dan McFeeley
02-11-2005, 04:44 AM
If legs are related to alcohol how does a mean gain more through aging? I'm a little confused. Or is it more 'how' the alcohol reacts than how much alcohol?


Wine is a very complex substance, chemically speaking, and the reactions it goes through during fermentation and aging are not fully understood. A lot is known about the basic processes, but there's still much more to be looked into. And of course, mead has not been researched in this way, at best, there are the late Roger Morse and the late Robert Kime's work, which told us a little about honey fermentation. I've done a little work myself on acidic properties of honey and mead. That's it! Much of what we're saying about mead is drawing parallels with oenology, i.e., wine science, making empirical comparisons based on what meadmakers are observing, and hoping it's a good fit.

The alcohol in the aroma and bouquet should lessen through the process of esterification, where alcohol combines with acid to form an ester. This may or may not contribute to development of bouquet.

Take a look at this URL:

http://www.chemguide.co.uk/organicprops/alcohols/esterification.html

Talon
02-11-2005, 09:45 AM
Okay, now my head is spinning!

Thanks Dan for the link. It will take several re-readings for me to fully grasp what's being said on that page as it's been a real long time since I've had ANY chemistry at all. However, it does explain a bit of how the esters are created.

So, from my reading, I gather that the alcohol combining with present acids is what helps remove the alcohol nose by bringing down the alcohol levels to a level that allows the other ingredients to suffuse themselves into the nose of the mead. This would explain the reason why everyone says to have enough acid to balance the sweetness simply because the acid will combine with the alcohol to a degree and enhance the sweet flavor by reducing the acid/alcohol flavors.

Dan McFeeley
02-12-2005, 09:37 AM
So, from my reading, I gather that the alcohol combining with present acids is what helps remove the alcohol nose by bringing down the alcohol levels to a level that allows the other ingredients to suffuse themselves into the nose of the mead. This would explain the reason why everyone says to have enough acid to balance the sweetness simply because the acid will combine with the alcohol to a degree and enhance the sweet flavor by reducing the acid/alcohol flavors.


Sort of -- I'm not aware of any specific studies that measured the decrease in alcohol content along with ester formations, it may easily be an educated guess based on what is already known about wine composition and ester formation.

I would be careful with advice on balancing acid and sweetness in mead. Much of this is dated info from the 1960's and earlier. It was a basic principle in winemaking and it was assumed that it applied equally well to meadmaking. More recently meadmakers have been questioning this, and found that mead does quite well on its own, without acid additions, in spite of the different varieties of honey and the variations in their acid content.

Gluconic acid, the primary acid in honey, has markedly different properties compared to the organic acids found in fruits, such as tartaric, malic and citric. The taste has been described as mildly sour, if that, and "refreshing." Like the other organic acids, it enhances flavor, but gluconic acid seems to do this more than the others. As a result, the harmony of flavors that create "balance" in mead are somewhat different from that in winemaking.

In winemaking acid is important in creating balance and harmony of flavors; in meadmaking it seems to function more as a flavor additive such as what you would use in making a metheglin. This would be because of the differences between gluconic acid, and acids commonly used as additives in winemaking.

kace069
07-21-2006, 12:25 AM
So I found this thread doing a search of the forum. I really don't have a firm idea of what legs in wine is. although I have heard the term many times. This posting has answered some of my questions but has led me to more.

Are legs desirable? I'm sure this is depends on the style of wine, being appetiff, table or dessert. I tend to make my meads sweet at a table wine strength. Should I be looking for legs in my mead.

After reading this thread I am under the impression that legs develop over time, is my assumption correct?

Is legs in wine strictly a visual thing or does it also play a part in mouthfeel? Or other aspects of tasting?

Oskaar
07-22-2006, 04:28 AM
Did you read the posts below?