Mead is considered the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world, having records of consumption dated more than 15 thousand years ago. Since there are bees and honey, there is also mead. The use of honey in our food is ancient, which suggests that mead has also been present in the daily lives of humanity for thousands of years. In fact, honey is present all over the world, available for consumption in all seasons, and the fermentation of honey with water and wild yeasts from the air and the honey itself, creates more than ideal conditions for easy access to the mead.

Some more recent theories associate the origin of Mead with Henan province in primitive China, but in fact it does not arise from a single origin because it is abundant all over the world. It was consumed in Rome, Ancient Greece and Egypt, as well as in other ancient cultures such as Indians, Celts, Anglo-Saxons or Vikings. In Ancient Greece they called the Mead of Ambrosia or “nectar of the gods” since they believed it was a drink from the gods, which descended from the heavens like dew, before being collected by bees. Thanks to this belief, Mead became popular at the time as a drink with magical and sacred properties, which prolonged life, provided health, virility, creativity and intelligence. There was a tradition that newlywed couples should consume this drink during the first lunar cycle after the wedding to birth a male child. Hence the current tradition and the term honeymoon.

Because it is so connected to the history of various cultures, it is common to see it mentioned in literary works and in cinema. Several authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien (author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit”), J.K. Rowling (author of “Harry Potter”) and C.S. Lewis (author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”) mention the famous drink in their composition.

However, mead has suffered tough competition with wine production, particularly in countries where grape cultivation was possible. Only in the northern regions of Europe, where such cultivation of vines wasn’t possible, mead continued to be consumed frequently. Beekeeping is a time and labor intensive process and although the rewards are great, it was not possible to compete on the same scale with the production of grains (beer), grapes (wine) and sugar cane.

Currently, there is a growing interest in this drink, all over the world. It is a versatile drink that can be sweet or dry, fruity or spicy. Mead is very similar to a good wine, which can take two or more years to reach full maturity and the older the better. The ideal temperature to be served varies according to the type of mead and the desired harmonization, but it is usually suggested to be between 10ºC and 12.8ºC if you want to obtain a good level of freshness or, alternatively, between 16ºC and 18ºC. In gastronomy, it combines very well with red meats, fish and exotic meats (like wild boar), being more common to be associated as an aperitif or pairing with dessert or coffee.

Have you had the opportunity to drink a traditional mead? If not, would you like to experiment?