ALL ABOUT MEAD
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS MEAD?
The simplest answer is: “Mead is a fermented beverage made from honey.” Mead is fermented, not distilled, and can vary widely in alcohol content, sweetness, acidity, etc. Even the driest meads or meads made with fruits and spices will typically always carry some flavor and aroma of honey.
I’M NOT A FAN OF SWEET WINES OR SWEETS.
“Do you like honey?” Most people will say yes, and honey is pure sugar, much sweeter than any mead. Grape wines have tannins and acidity from grapes, and with many sweet meads often the acid balance leans towards the sweet, but proper techniques, oak and fruit create a beautiful balance in our mead. People who are not a fan of sweet wines may not like sweetness in their grape wines, but mead is another animal entirely. Not everyone likes the sweetest wines like Sauternes and Ports, but even our sweeter meads carry a complexity and a diversity of flavor that can be found in any well-balanced wine.
IS MEAD TYPICALLY ENJOYED AS AN AFTER-DINNER DRINK OR DESSERT?
To most people who are new to it, mead might seem to be just a dessert, or something to be sipped in a tiny glass like a Port. While many of our meads are great enjoyed this way, there is a vast array of mead in our portfolio and certainly a mead to fit every occasion. Session meads (lower ABV meads), sparkling meads, dry meads, mead aged in barrels, cider-mead hybrids, mead made with spices, fruits, herbs, etc. There are so many varieties and flavor profiles—mead can be sparkling and thirst-quenching, or bright, fruity, and acidic. Mead is so much more than just dessert.
HOW IS MEAD MADE?
First, a must is created by blending honey with water or juice in a ratio that differs depending on the recipe. We then add yeast, nutrients, pure oxygen, and sometimes other adjuncts or fruit to begin fermentation. Our meads ferment at around 75 degrees F, slightly warmer than beer. Once fermentation is complete, we rack off the yeast that has settled to the bottom of the fermenter and fine the mead with bentonite, a natural kind of clay. From here, we add additional fruit or blend with other meads, or add the mead to barrels. Before it is bottled or kegged, the mead is filtered with a lenticular filter.
IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE.
While some of our meads may be pricier than what people are used to paying for craft beverages, it’s important to note that mead has always been the drink of kings because honey has been highly prized throughout human history. We can only get honey through bees, and its scarcity as well as the work and time involved to harvest it contribute to honey’s high price. Quality ingredients make the best meads, and we never sacrifice on quality when it comes to what we put in our meads. People will pay more for the best of everything, and Superstition makes some of the best meads and ciders available in the world.
HOW SHOULD I STORE MY BOTTLES OF MEAD, AND HOW LONG DOES IT KEEP ONCE OPENED?
Storing unopened bottles of mead is simple, they should be stored in a cool room somewhere out of direct sunlight just as one would a beer or a wine. If the mead has a cork rather than a swing top, the mead should ideally be stored on its side if it is going to be aged longer than a few weeks. Unopened meads can be stored for years and still taste delicious when opened if stored properly. Opened meads typically have a longer shelf life than opened wines, and if your account uses any argon gas wine saver in their establishment, the same gas can be used on meads to help retain their freshness. Opened meads should be transferred to a wine cooler or refrigerator to maintain freshness. Traditional meads will retain freshness longer than meads which have a big fruit content, and meads with a higher ABV will retain freshness longer than meads with a lower ABV. Typically, a good rule of thumb is that an opened bottle should be consumed within 2 weeks, which is significantly longer than most wines.
I’M A BEER DRINKER; I DON’T LIKE WINE.
While plenty of wine drinkers also enjoy our meads, a large portion of our customers are craft beer fans. We have many friends in the beer world and are constantly doing collaborations with the best brewers all over the world, including Bottle Logic, Arizona Wilderness, Mikkeller, and many others. It’s important to note that wineries are often more concerned with history and tradition than innovation; Superstition has a craft beer soul in that we are always looking for surprising ingredients, pushing the limits of what is possible, and being creative in determining what a mead can be. IPA drinkers might like our dry hopped meads. Belgian ale lovers might like our meads made with Belgian dark candi sugar. Whiskey drinkers might like our bourbon barrel aged meads. There is a mead for everyone, and beer drinkers are no exception.
IS MEAD GLUTEN FREE?
Since we are technically a winery as viewed by the liquor board, it is illegal for us to have any grains in our production facility. None of our fermenters have ever held any grain products, and honey is gluten free, so yes, absolutely. The only exceptions are meads that have been aged in beer barrels, which may contain trace amounts of gluten since the barrels once held beers.
SHOULD MEAD BE SERVED COLD?
In the Superstition tasting room, we serve most of our meads at white wine serving temperature, between 49 and 55 degrees F. As the glass of mead slowly warms in the hands of the consumer as it is being enjoyed, the aroma and flavor will deepen, becoming less refreshing but more expressive. Mead is versatile in how it is enjoyed throughout the world. Mead can be enjoyed piping hot and sipped on cold days, or some of the sweetest dessert meads are wonderful when enjoyed at room temperature. There is no wrong answer!
HOW STRONG IS MEAD?
Mead can be anywhere from 3.5% ABV up to 20% ABV or more, so mead can be lighter than most wines, or it can contain a much higher ABV depending on the beverage we want to achieve. Superstition typically keeps most of our meads anywhere from 13% ABV to 15% ABV, as we feel this is the ideal alcohol content and flavor balance for the beverage we would like to achieve. Enjoy, pour, and serve mead as you would anything with a similar alcohol content such as wine, in 5-6 oz. servings.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF MEAD? THE VIKINGS DRANK IT, RIGHT?
Mead is believed to be the oldest form of alcoholic beverage, and the oldest remnants of mead were found in pottery sherds in what is now Northern China dating back to at least 7000 BC. Hunter-gatherers likely drank mead out of animal skins even before the invention of pottery. Mead pre-dates the wheel, agriculture, and metal tools. The Romans drank mead, as did the Babylonians, Africans, South Americans, Asians, Eastern Europeans, British Islanders, and yes, the Vikings. Wherever your ancestors are from, they likely drank mead, and mead played an important role in many civilization’s mythologies. Enjoy this piece of living history!
HOW DO I PAIR MEAD WITH FOOD?
There is a wealth of information available on the internet and in books about mead and food pairing, but here are the basics:
Savory, earthy, or umami ingredients like onions, rosemary, mushrooms, and carrots are best paired with meads in the off-dry spectrum, like our Fauna or Lagrimas de Oro. Stay away from anything citrusy.
Delicate, light flavors such as baked white fishes and salads pair well with light floral meads or citrusy meads, such as our Flora, Juicius Caesar or War Honey.
Mild curries, sauces in rich butter or cream, risotto, or mild soft cheeses pair well with a fuller-bodied mead to meet the richness of the sauce. Think higher acid or alcohol in the pairing mead, such as our Hawaiian Honeymoon or Snow Melt.
Grilled and smoked flavors—anything grilled, roasted, smoked, or caramelized—will pair well with traditional oaked meads like Lagrimas de Oro or Tahitian Honeymoon.
Strong cheeses like blues, Stilton, and sharp cheddar pair well with bigger, fruitier, and sweeter meads like our Blackberry Hex, Marion, or Strawberry Sunrise.
Sandwiches and Pizza pair well with sparkling mead or cider, like our Blueberry Spaceship Box or Deep Field North.
Spicy foods are best paired with bright, fruity meads like Blueberry Hex or Marion.
Desserts call for a dessert style mead, something with a bigger body and sweetness to match the food pairing, like our Amante, Berry White, or Vanilla Aphrodisia.