Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Of Wines and Meads (and just what is mead, anyways??)

Good day!  We have been organizing, racking and bottling a bunch of beers, wines and meads lately.  While we were going through these processes, I thought I would write down the wines and meads I/we have made (note: this will not include any beers we have made - I'll save that for another list!).  I have made all of the wines, and we have fun sharing the mead making. 

If you are interested in anything on these lists, just let me know and I will post some recipes!


Doesn't this pear wine look beautiful?  Charlie said it tastes just like eating a ripe pear!



Wines

  • 5 gallon Strawberry Wine (amazing strawberry essence, 1st place winner at county fair)
  • 3 gallon Kiwi Wine (quite acidic, waiting for it to hopefully mellow)
  • 1 gallon Wild Plum Wine (amazing, crisp and tart)
  • 3 gallon Mixed Fruit Wine (a taster pronounced it " a perfect dry Rosé ")
  • 5 gallon Crab Apple Wine (quite tart, waiting for it to mellow) 
  • 1 gallon Dandelion Wine (smooth and sweet - surprisingly tasty)
  • 3 gallon Pear Wine (tastes just like eating a ripe pear)
  • 5 gallon Riesling Wine (made from kit, absolutely a winner, perfect sweet Riesling flavor)
  • 5 gallon Australian Shiraz Wine (made from kit, a delightful dry red wine)
  • 5 gallon Italian Pinot Grigio Wine (made from kit, tasted just like a pinot grigio!)
  • 1 gallon Apple Champagne (still in secondary, but it smelled delicious!)
  • 2 gallon Mixed Fruit Wine #2 (still bubbling away in the primary)
  • 10 gallons Hard Cider (wasn't sure where to add this; tasted deliciously crisp, tart and appley!)



This photo shows a glass of pomegranate mead - our favorite of all the meads we have made. 




Meads 


Before we get started on this list, let us ask the question: what exactly is mead?   

Mead is an often misunderstood drink - when Charlie and I tell people we make mead, they wonder, is it a watery wine?  a type of beer?  or just something weird?  

To put it simply, mead is a wine-like beverage made from a water and honey fermentation - the key is the honey.  Mead must be made with honey.  Mead can be quite alcoholic, sometimes as high as 20% (I guess it can go higher than 20%, but I think it compromises the flavor).  

Meads can range from dry (tasting just like a fruity wine) to a sweet dessert wine with the perfect nose and essence of honey - and anywhere in between.  Mead is a very elegant, beautiful drink that is best sipped in small quantities.  

Technically, the word "mead" refers only to a beverage made from honey fermented with water - with no flavorings or additives.  

When you add fruit and other flavorings to mead, you get such names as blossomel (fermented or flavored with flower blossoms), cyser (made with apples, apple juice or apple cider), melomel (fermented or flavored with fruit or fruit juice), metheglin (fermented or flavored with herbs and/or spices), braggot (malted grain and hops added) and several others.  For ease of understanding, we generally call all of our honey-fermented beverages "mead" (it is hard enough to explain what a 'mead' is, let alone a 'blossomel' or a 'metheglin!').

Here are the meads we have made so far:

  • 5 gallons Traditional Mead (tasty, focusing on the essence of the honey)
  • 15 gallons Pomegranate (a sweet dessert wine, delicious beyond imagination)
  • 7 gallons Blueberry Melomel (fantastic blueberry flavor, honey nose, slightly dry)
  • 2 gallons Madagascar Vanilla Tropical Mead (a delicious pineapple-y, mango, vanilla flavor)
  • 5 gallons Black Cherry Mead (not good at first, but in one year it was amazing, fruity and dry)
  • 5 gallons Medium Show Traditional Mead (sweeter than the traditional mead)
  • 2 gallons Peach Ginger Nutmeg Mead (interesting flavor, waiting for it to 'ripen')
  • 1 gallon Cranberry Mead (tart, amazing, just right for that turkey dinner!)
  • 3 gallon Chokecherry Mead (still in the secondary, but it smells delicious)
  • 1 gallon Hop Braggot (mead meets beer? interesting flavor)
  • 1 gallon Cardamom Rose Hip Mead (delicate cardamom flavor, colored nicely by the rose hips)
  • 1 gallon Vanilla Saffron Mead (yes, yes, yes, such a delicious vanilla flavor, colored by saffron)
  • 1 gallon Juniper Berry Mead (great gin-like flavor, but sweeter (and less alcoholic) than gin)
  • 5 gallon Apple Cyser (amazing apple/honey smoothness and flavor, tasty beyond imagination)


The amazing Cyser on a snowy winter day.  



By the way, these are comprehensive lists of all of the wines and meads we have ever made since we started vinting over two years ago.  A lot of them are gone.  And if you are wondering what we do with all of these bottles; of course we drink some, but we also love to share with friends and family and give bottles away as gifts.  We also have quite a few bottles put away to try in 5 or 10 years or so (or 15 or 20 years!).  

We have found that vinting and brewing is a fun, creative hobby that also brings joy and inspiration to others!

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