To drink a glass of Mead on a warm summers eve is one of romantic things that I know and to drink it under the spell of the Mead moon is one of the most magical rituals that you can share with a lover. I am completely in love with the taste of fresh mead which in its simplest form is a delectable wine made of honey, water or juice, spices and yeast that have been allowed to mingle with absolutely unbridled passion. A true gift from our friends the honeybees, the discovery of mead had to have been a happy accident because no doubt some lucky farmer stumbled upon a jar of honey that had perhaps been filled with rainwater and forgotten. Wild yeasts would have found their way into mixture and impolitely had their way with it and voila', the first taste of Mead would have been enjoyed!
You can usually find commercially made mead (I quite enjoy Chaucer's!) at any good wine store or you can attempt to make it at home which I've found to be quite alot of fun and often better than what you can buy! If you have a home-schooled child like mine was, you'll find the making of any sort of wine or brew to be a wonderful lesson in organic chemistry! Alex and I spent one entire autumn making beer and wine and I'll never forget my husband coming home to our farm to find huge carboys sitting on the kitchen counters filled with the yeasty beginnings of cidre' and mead. I think that he thought we'd gone mad, at least until he tasted the fruits of our labors! Every day Alex and I would check the fermentation locks and then the time came to siphon it into bottles. We made fancy Windesphere Witch labels and gave it all away as Yuletide gifts , given that he was was way to young to drink more than a wee dram of any of it. It was very good and seriously potent and came with the satisfaction of knowing that we had created it ourselves using simple and good organic ingredients combined with alot of love and patience.
You can go through the process of making you own mead like we did, or you can cheat and create a simple mead type beverage blend which is what I've done for the 7 or so years that I've been an apartment dweller. Just take a room temperature bottle of May Wine or a delightful Reisling and decant it into a carafe. Add at least 3/4's of a cup of raw honey and stir until infused. Strain and pour the wine back into a clean carafe, adding any spices that you enjoy and let the whole thing steep for a day or two. I love to add fresh berries and basil flowers in the spring and sweet windfall apples and cinnamon sticks in the fall. Eaten with with a sharp Manchego or Cheddar cheese, a loaf of bread, sweet sausage and thou, it turns into the most romantic of feasts. In the fall with a hearty soup made from cheese and ale, a glass of mead is a wonderful accompaniment alongside a crackling fire. I think that you'll find this recipe to be a suitable substitute and perhaps even better than any mead that you can buy with the exception of what's served at your local Renaissance Faire! However, now that I own a house again with a wonderful old basement that my husband has promised to turn into a stillroom , the huge glass bottles and locks will be coming back out and my friends and family will be getting gifts of delicious mead and ale this Christmas. I can't wait!
Now fly over to Roxana's Illuminated Journal to read more about the fragrance of mead from the honeybee mistress herself!
Picture of the Medieval BeeKeeper courtesy of : http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Mead
Chaucers Mead Label courtesy of : http://www.chaucerswine.com/mead.asp