The original ‘Honey Moon’ started with ‘honey wine’ – mead fun facts and tasting notes
During medieval times mead was part of a marriage ritual. After the wedding the bride and groom were provided enough mead to last one full moon. They were encouraged to consume this sweet wine to instill good luck in their marriage. Mead was also believed to promote fertility and virility. From that ritual and belief sprouted the term “honeymoon.”
The honey feature
The earliest meads were made from local honey, water and yeast. Yet honey was among the original sweeteners for wine. Therefore even today, some mead is also made with grapes or other fruits.
Over the centuries, folks have made mead with indigenous fruits, says Jim Vaughan, Brand Manager at Chaucer’s Cellars in the California Santa Cruz Mountains. For example, “Cherry Mead is still a big deal in Poland.”
Chaucer’s offers a traditional Mead featuring honey drawn from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They also offer a Raspberry Mead that combines Chaucer’s traditional Mead with their Raspberry Wine that features raspberries from a local orchard.
There are 200 commercial mead producers in the United States, says Mr. Vaughan. That’s a whisper among the country’ s total wine producers. Meads seem to sit quietly on wine shop shelves. They’re usually in the dessert wine section.
Mead producers select honeys just as producers of Meritage, Chardonnay and other varietals select grapes, Mr. Vaughan says. The goal is to bring the wine to its greater structural glory.
Chaucer’s traditional Mead, for example, features local orange blossom, alfalfa and sage honeys. “The orange blossom contributes the intriguing floral aromatics. Alfafa provides the brilliant golden color; sage adds subtle spice notes in the flavor.”
This makes a “cuvee” that winemaker Larry Bargetto refined back in the 1960s, to honor the literary collection Canterbury Tales and the excerpts that celebrate mead. Over years since, Mr. Vaughan says, Chaucer’s Cellars honey cuvee has been altered only slightly to make it a bit drier.
Serve mead chilled. Chaucer’s Mead is the first mead I’d ever tried. It has a light body, and a rich texture.
It indeed has a floral honey bouquet, and a delicately sweet taste. Sips coat your palate with a faint honey finish. Savor as a dessert in itself, or serve as a mid evening snack with roasted nuts, dried fruits and strong cheeses.
Chaucer’s traditional Mead comes with all-natural spice packets, for option to make mulled wine. For this warm the mead without boiling; add spice packets for five minutes, or longer for a stronger spice flavor. Serve in snifter glasses.
I tried this, too. ‘Tis cozy on the palate, and tasty.
Toasting with mead
The mead ‘romantic’ tradition seems to continue. For example, mead is oft on order for Irish weddings, Mr. Vaughan tells me. “They like to have it to toast to the bride and groom.”
Mead is also a popular quaff for Renaissance festivals.
More information: Chaucer’s meads have a suggested retail price of $16. For more info on Chaucer’s Cellars and meads, visit here.