Mead, often referred to as the nectar of the gods, is making a delicious comeback. This ancient beverage, made by fermenting honey with water, has captured the hearts of modern enthusiasts from home brewers to cocktail aficionados. Whether you’re new to the world of mead or a seasoned sipper, this guide will help you explore the best ways to enjoy this versatile drink.

What is Mead?

Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to humankind, with a history dating back thousands of years. Often called honey wine, it can be sweet, dry, still, or sparkling, offering a range of flavors and styles to suit any palate. The basic ingredients are simple—honey, water, and yeast—but the possibilities are endless, with variations that include fruits, spices, and herbs.

Why Mead is Gaining Popularity

In recent years, mead has seen a resurgence in popularity. This can be attributed to several factors:

  • Artisanal Craftsmanship: Many meaderies are small, artisanal operations that focus on quality and unique flavor profiles.
  • Versatility: Mead can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from sipping it straight to mixing it into cocktails.
  • Historical Appeal: The rich history and ancient origins of mead add an intriguing layer of enjoyment for history buffs and drink enthusiasts alike.

How to Drink Traditional Mead

Serving Temperature

Straight traditional mead is typically served chilled in a wine or cocktail glass. However, there’s really no wrong way to drink it. From ice-cold fruit meads to piping hot spiced meads, this versatile beverage can be served at a variety of temperatures depending on the style and ingredients.


The right glassware can enhance the tasting experience. A wine glass is often preferred for traditional mead, allowing you to appreciate its aroma and color. For sparkling mead, a champagne flute can be an elegant choice.

Tasting Notes

When sipping traditional mead, take your time to notice the intricate flavors. Honey is the star, but you’ll also detect subtle notes from any added fruits or spices. Swirl the glass, take a deep breath in, and savor each sip.

Mead Cocktails

Mead makes an excellent cocktail ingredient, offering a sweet and unique twist to traditional recipes.

Adding Mead to Classic Cocktails

  • Gin Fizz: Add a drop of sweet and fruity mead to a Gin Fizz for a delightful twist.
  • Vodka Tonic: A splash of mead can elevate a simple Vodka Tonic to something extraordinary.
  • Hella Hot Bloody Mary: Adding a spicy mead to your bloody mary will enhance all your flavors and give you a nice kick.

Crafting New Creations

  • Mead Sangria: Mix your mead with sparkling water, ice, and fruit for a refreshing mead Sangria.
  • Herbal Mead Tea (No Bull Hot Toddy): Add a bit of herbal mead to your hot tea for a warming, aromatic drink.

The diversity and versatility of mead make it a unique, show-stopping ingredient that belongs in every serious mixologist’s liquor cabinet.

How to Store Mead

Unopened Bottles

An unopened bottle of mead should be stored in a cool, dark place like a pantry, cabinet, or wine cellar. Proper storage is key to maintaining its quality.

  • Avoid Sunlight: Do not store mead in the sunlight.
  • Keep it Cool: Do not store mead near a heat source. Prolonged exposure to sunlight or heat can detrimentally affect the taste and shelf life.

Opened Bottles

Once a bottle of mead is opened, like wine, it begins to oxidize. However, the effects of slight oxidation on mead are not as noticeable or offensive as with your typical wine. In effect, an opened bottle of mead has a longer shelf life than an open bottle of wine.

Refrigeration Tips

  • Light Meads (Alcohol Content < 13%): These should be resealed and stored in a refrigerator.
  • High Alcohol Content Meads: These can be tightly resealed and stored in a cool pantry or wine cellar.

If properly stored, a resealed bottle of mead should last many weeks to many months.

Shelf Life of Mead

There is no exact expiration date for mead. Like wine, mead can be aged for long periods of time, and an unopened bottle can last many years if stored properly.

Factors Affecting Shelf Life

  • Alcohol Content: Generally, the higher the alcohol content, the longer the shelf life.
  • Aging Time: Mead can develop more complex flavors as it ages.

It’s important to note that these factors vary from mead to mead and brand to brand. Always check with the manufacturer for the ‘best consumed by’ recommendation.

Exploring Different Types of Mead

Traditional Mead

This is the purest form of mead, made only with honey, water, and yeast. It’s perfect for those who want to experience the essence of mead.

Fruit Mead (Melomel)

Fruit meads, known as melomels, incorporate fruits like berries, apples, or peaches. They offer a delightful fruity twist and can range from sweet to tart.

Spiced Mead (Metheglin)

Metheglins are meads flavored with spices and herbs, such as cinnamon, cloves, or ginger. They are perfect for colder months, offering a warming and aromatic experience.

Sparkling Mead

For those who enjoy a bit of fizz, sparkling mead provides a bubbly alternative. It can be enjoyed on its own or used in celebratory toasts.

Pairing Mead with Food

Just like wine, mead can be paired with various foods to enhance the dining experience.

Cheese Pairings

  • Soft Cheeses: Pair with a dry mead to balance the creaminess.
  • Blue Cheese: A sweet mead complements the bold flavors of blue cheese.

Dessert Pairings

  • Chocolate: A rich, sweet mead can be a perfect match for chocolate desserts.
  • Fruit Tarts: Pair with a fruity mead to enhance the flavors.

Main Course Pairings

  • Grilled Meats: A robust mead can stand up to the flavors of grilled meats.
  • Seafood: A light, crisp mead pairs well with seafood dishes.

The Benefits of Drinking Mead

Health Benefits

Mead, especially when made with raw honey, can offer some health benefits. Honey has natural antioxidants and antibacterial properties. However, moderation is key, as mead is still an alcoholic beverage.

Environmental Benefits

Supporting local meaderies can have a positive impact on the environment. Many small producers use sustainable practices and source their ingredients locally.

Cultural Connection

Drinking mead connects us with a rich cultural history, offering a sense of tradition and continuity.

Joining the Mead Community

Engage with other mead enthusiasts to share tips, recipes, and experiences.

Online Forums

Join online communities and forums dedicated to mead-making and appreciation.

Local Mead Events

Participate in local mead tastings, festivals, and workshops to expand your knowledge and meet fellow enthusiasts.

Social Media

Follow your favorite meaderies and mead experts on social media to stay updated on the latest trends and innovations.

Mead is a Versatile Beverage

Mead is a versatile and delightful beverage that offers something for everyone. Whether you enjoy it straight, mixed into cocktails, or paired with your favorite foods, mead provides a unique and enriching experience.

Ready to elevate your mead game? Explore new flavors, experiment with pairings, and consider trying your hand at home brewing. Join the growing community of mead enthusiasts and discover the endless possibilities this ancient beverage has to offer. Cheers to your mead adventures!