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View Full Version : Commercial Meads - Or how to make a really good mead?



Deege
05-25-2005, 03:21 PM
I posted this on another board, but then I decided that this would have been a much better place to ask this question.

The few commercial meads I've had were *very* sweet. Last night at a work gathering I said I was making mead. Two people who had mead just within a few days said they did not like it. They said it tasted like schnapps and was too sweet.

I explained to them that not liking mead based on one glass was like saying you don't like wine based on one bad glass of white zin. It did make me wonder if my mead was too dry, since the commercial versions are all very sweet.

My question is what do you think mead should taste like? I know the question is subjective, but I was thinking more of a poll.

Should a good mead be very sweet?

Also how many of you make meads with fruit? How many prefer traditional straight meads? Do you usually add one other flavor (like one fruit, or spice), or do you add several flavors? Do you carbonate?

Oskaar
05-25-2005, 03:35 PM
Hey Deege,

That's a pretty wide open question. I'd jsuggest using the search tool and examining a few threads. Just about every question you asked is discussed at length on these forums.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Jmattioli
05-25-2005, 06:51 PM
(snip)
My question is what do you think mead should taste like? I know the question is subjective, but I was thinking more of a poll.

Not much of a poll but here goes.....
A mead should taste like you like it and desire a second glass.



Should a good mead be very sweet?


Only if you like it that way.



Also how many of you make meads with fruit? How many prefer traditional straight meads? Do you usually add one other flavor (like one fruit, or spice), or do you add several flavors? Do you carbonate?


I do. I do. Yes/Yes that too. Sometimes Yes

You asked for it... you got it... Hope you can use the data :) ;D

Joe

toolboxdiver
05-25-2005, 08:06 PM
Good answer JMattioli, I like my meads semi sweet to dry, but it is a personal preferance. whatever floats your boat dude. Mead is the Nectar of the Gods and how ever you like it make it that way...enjoy

edacsac
05-26-2005, 10:10 AM
While making my first mead, I bought two bottles of commercial mead to taste and have something to compare to. One was the really common brand that I've seen mentioned here that I can't remember the name of. I think its and Irish brand, and the other was Jadwiega or however you spell it. The Jadwiega was really thick and sweet - almost had a prune taste to it, and the other brand, although lighter and clearer, had some funk going on with the taste that I didn't like at all.

I'm still a newbie, but I prefer straight meads, although I will most likely try everything once. I'll probably try carbonation once I get consistent and duplicatable recipe down that I like.

Michael_Ng
05-26-2005, 01:46 PM
Iím guessing that the Irish Mead you were talking about was Bunratty Meade.

Please donít let Bunratty Meade be your indicator of what good mead is supposed to taste like. If you look closely at the label, itís not Mead in the Honey Wine sense, itís White Wine flavored with Honey.

For more info, search on Bunratty on gotmead.com and youíll find a number of postings on it. Michael Faulís posting I think did a good job of summing it all up.

http://www.gotmead.com/mead-research/mld/2004/1117.html

Based on your website, I presumed you are in Michigan. I just talked with the ABC there and with luck the laws will change in your favor shortly so youíll be able to order a greater variety of Mead to serve as your baseline for comparison. You can thank the Supreme Court for declaring the current law there unconstitutional. ;D

Check out the link below to contact your local legislator and ask them to support direct shipments of Wine.

http://capwiz.com/freegrapes/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7618191

Michael Ng
Owner Ė Knowne World Meads

David Baldwin
05-26-2005, 02:15 PM
Yes, mead should be sweet - if that is what you like and that is what was intended when the must was prepared.

It shold be dry - if that is your preference and that is what was intended.


I liked the summary that it should leave you wanting a second glass.


Mead is as widely varied as wines, and the real beauty of home vinting or mazing is that you can create the nectar of the gods to your own personal tastes.

My all time favorite commercial mead is Jadwiga - seconded closely by Kasztelanski. Neither of which I can get in Michigan - yet. The "funk" you describe in the commercial meads left sweet is quite possibly the sulphites added to stop fermentation. I have found sulphites in commercial meads to often reach my taste threshold.

Maybe I have oversensitive taste buds (to suplphites anyway) but it is unpleasant.

My own meads have tended toward seme-sweet with considerable alcohol content (16-23%). I use enough honey to retain the sweetness without stopping fermentation with sulphites.


I started learning by trying commercial meads that I liked, and then have spent the last year experimenting with variations to come to a formula that is just what I like. You may not like it at all, but that's the fun of being able to do it yourself.

A good mead should reflect the intent of the mazer.
A good traditional mead should highlite the honey character - sweet or dry.
Melomel should gracefully blend the fruit and honey.
Methegin should reflect the spices enhancing and or complementing the honey.

As long as you are able to make a mead that is lacking in significant fermentation flaws that would produce off tastes or odors, you can call it a good mead. It may not be specifically to your liking, but someone somewhere would probably find it very acceptable.

This is an art form, and very subjective in nature. "Good" and "Bad" are really hard to quantify.


Good luck and enjoy the hobby!

David

edacsac
05-26-2005, 02:30 PM
David,

Jadwiga certainly is available in Michigan. There is a place in the troy rochester area. I will get the exact location if you are from the area, and would like to go there. I need to look it up again, since it's been over a year since I've been to the store.

edacsac
05-26-2005, 02:45 PM
Hey Michael,

Actually is was Chaucers. Real funky taste to it.

And yes, I heard about the supreme court ruling, although as soon as minors start ordering wines from websites, things will change right back. I've already heard the lobbyist groups throwing a tantrum about it on National Public Radio.

webmaster
05-26-2005, 08:03 PM
Actually, of all the commercial meads I've tasted (around 50 so far), most tend to be on the dry side. And there are a large number in the middle range as well. So, no, mead does *not* have to be sweet. It can be as dry as a bone, or so sweet your fillings fall out when you drink it, and everywhere in between.

It all depends on how much honey you use, and what sort of yeast. I tend to like a medium-sweet mead. My personal batches tend to be with either fruit or spices. Right now I'm in spice mode, planning a ginger mead and another spice mead. But I'm fond of fruit, and figure on a blueberry, a raspberry and a blackberry mead this year too. In the fall I'll get apple juice and do a cyser, likely spiced. And I've 4 gallons of peach juice awaiting fermenting as well.

My favorite meads so far commercially have been a spice mead and a raspberry mead. I'm not overly fond of seriously sweet like Jadwiga, although I've two bottles I traded some English mead for several years ago, and sip it occasionally.

Vicky - getting ready to head to Kansas to see Pirtle Winery and drink some more of their mead

Michael_Ng
05-27-2005, 02:47 AM
Actually is was Chaucers. Real funky taste to it.


Actually, my experience is that Chaucerís isnít bad... Once itís been aged a year or two. ;D

With one exception, I havenít purchased a bottle of Chaucerís in almost 3 years. (Not since I tried the Oregon Mead from Honeywood Winery.) So when I decided to hold a Mead tasting and wanted to use Chaucerís as a baseline, I pulled a bottle out of my cupboard that I had purchased 2 years earlier. Aged and chilled icy cold, it was actually quite good. A few months later I was at the International Mead Festival (last year) and decided that I "had" to try Chaucerís since I had tried everyone elseís there. (Again, for baseline comparison reasons.) It was a completely different beast from the bottle I had tried less than two months earlier. I also thought it had a "Real funky taste to it" and was cloyingly sweet.

Oh yeah, the one exception was a few months later when I found a bottle of the Raspberry Chaucerís at the Cannery Wine Cellars in San Francisco. Seeing as it was the first time I had seen a bottle in over a year of looking, I just had to get it. Havenít opened it yet though, Iíll probably pass it around at the next SCA event I go to for feedback.

The thing I find most curious about the Raspberry Chaucerís is that itís actually a blend of their normal Mead (85%) with Raspberry wine (15%), and itís sold in a 500 ml bottle for the same price as the regular Chaucerís Mead. I donít know, does that still qualify as a Melomel?




And yes, I heard about the supreme court ruling, although as soon as minors start ordering wines from websites, things will change right back. I've already heard the lobbyist groups throwing a tantrum about it on National Public Radio.


As for minors buying from websites, I donít quite buy it... Always seemed to be a red herring from distributors to retain control of distribution and extract their cut. Somehow I donít see it as very likely that junior is going to hop onto a website, use daddyís credit card and hope not to get caught, and wait 2-10+ days for delivery to buy a $10-20+ bottle of wine. Especially not when he can stand outside of the local 7-Eleven and find somebody to buy him a 40 oz bottle of Budweiser for $3-5 right away.

Even if a minor was to go through all the hassle to buy wine from a website, every state law Iíve read so far regarding legal direct-shipments requires a signature from somebody with a valid I.D. that is 21 or older before the shipment can be released. Some states even require that the I.D. that is used for delivery match the name on the invoice. If UPS/Fed-Ex/DHL doesnít follow through with the sellerís requirement that they get a signature from an adult, then the seller shouldnít be penalized for it. Heck, when I check that box saying I am requiring an Adult Signature for Delivery Confirmation, I have to pay extra and I have a legitimate expectation that UPS/Fed-Ex/DHL will do their job. (This is why Iíd prefer not to use DHL; theyíve dropped 4 cases of Pirtle on my doorstep so far without so much as a doorbell.) And itís no secret what Iím shipping either. UPS made me sign a wine-shipperís agreement before I could work with them acknowledging that I know what the laws are and where I could legally ship to.

Whew... I'll get off the soapbox now... ;D

Michael

Michael_Ng
05-27-2005, 02:51 AM
Vicky - getting ready to head to Kansas to see Pirtle Winery and drink some more of their mead


Um, Vicky... I thought Pirtle Winery was in Weston, Missouri... Getting started early? ;D

Michael

David Baldwin
05-27-2005, 09:07 AM
David,

Jadwiga certainly is available in Michigan. There is a place in the troy rochester area. I will get the exact location if you are from the area, and would like to go there. I need to look it up again, since it's been over a year since I've been to the store.


I'd be most interested in knowing who the distributor/wholesaler is. I can't seem to get it here in Grand Rapids.

It's imported by Stawski in Chicago, but my local retailer couldn't find a distributor here in Michigan.

Dmntd
05-27-2005, 10:19 AM
My own meads have tended toward seme-sweet with considerable alcohol content (16-23%).


How do you get the alcohol up to 23%?

Anthony

David Baldwin
05-27-2005, 10:46 AM
How do you get the alcohol up to 23%?

Anthony


Completely by accident! ;D

Check out the details in the brew log under "my firstborn"

I started with 9 pounds wildflower honey, K1V-1116, raisins and molasses for nutrient.

My OG was around 1.157, (3 gallon batch) and I let that ferment to around 1.02 before I added another 3 pounds of honey, then a bit more left-over honey water later in fermentation.

http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,288.0.html

I took a ton of hydrometer samples tracking that batch

irishoneme
05-29-2005, 09:59 AM
if it helps any, i have found that many commercial meads are sweet by common perception. in many wine stores, mead is located and refered to as a desert wine. to put out a very dry mead that would be put in with sweet wines may upset an uninformed public and hurt sales. many people that i have introduced to mead expect a strong honey taste, and are quickly put off by a dry, crisp taste.