Saturday, October 08, 2011

What, actually, is it that mead makers are trying to do ?

The title of this post is something I've been pondering for a few weeks now.

Why should I be thinking along these lines ? Well, to my mind, "mead is mead, is mead".

Now it's fair to point out, that while meads have been around for at least a couple of millenia, is what we make now the same thing, just an improved version of what the ancients made ?

Yes, it would also be obvious that a lot of the methods/techniques used currently are derived from the world of wine making, more specifically, making "grape" wines (not wines made from other fruit).

What it does do, is, to my mind, is make people want to compare "proper" wines to meads a.k.a. honey wine. Yet I don't see the comparison, other than them both being alcoholic drinks. After all, the only thing they have in common other than the alcohol is the presence of fermentable sugars in the unfermented "must". Grapes have different components to honey. Honey has considerably more sugars, but little of the other nutrient type elements that are present in grapes.

So called "proper" wines are made from pure grape juice, meads are made mainly from watered down honey (there's no chance in hell of fermenting pure honey). It's almost as pointless a comparison to that of wine and brandy, or beer and whiskey. They've both got alcohol in them, but that's where it stops.

Hence, should we describe mead as "honey wine", or more correctly, as a fermented honey drink ?

Yes, I gloss over the different variations of meads i.e. melomels, metheglyns, cysers, pyments, etc etc, as it seems that those are just ways of adding different flavours to the honey must fermentation.......

Equally, you can find commercially made meads, though from what I've managed to find/taste, most of those are from existing vineyards/wineries and less from makers who make specifically meads. Should we, as a loose community of like minded people, gather together our experiences, into something "more concrete" ? So some proper research can be done and published, or is it enough to remain on the periphery of the wine making world, so "proper wine makers" can continue to sneer down their collective noses ?

The only place that seems to have any laid down/statutory standards for meads, would appear to be Poland. Whether anywhere else has any mandatory standards for what we term "Mead", I've yet to find out.

Does it mean then, that without any standard, that all we're doing is taking part in some global pissing contest ? "My meads better than your mead?", with a small number of people who are enthusiastic enough about it, to learn as much as they can and then pass on this collected knowledge ?

Or is it something else ?

I mean, lets face it, to try and compete directly with the entrenched wine making world is pretty much a waste of time. Yes, there is a small market for commercial mead making, but the "wine lobby" is a huge, well funded, well advertised section of the alcohol production industry. Anything they consider a threat, is more than likely, going to be stamped out of existence (if that's possible). They don't want anyone else to have a share of the financial pie that they enjoy so much........

Apart from anything else, making meads does seem to take longer than making wines. Yes there's a few short cuts that can be taken, but by and large, it's likely to take many years to have something that is drinkable.....

I just don't know..... I suppose I'll just carry on making my batches to see what I can produce!