I Feel the Need…the Need for Mead! 08/17/11
Okay everyone, first things first: contrary to popular belief, I am not, nor have I ever been Tom Cruise.
But I have amassed a few other experiences over the course of my short little life, including a brief but memorable stint at Cornell University, where I majored in English for four years and in the process became about as fluent as anyone ever has any excuse to be in Old English – which is the language of Beowulf, not Geoffrey Chaucer or (God forbid) William Shakespeare, so please don’t ever make that mistake.
And while I could regale you with any number of details about the life and times of my good friend Beowulf, most would simply bore you to tears, so instead I’m just going to talk about the important stuff – namely, what he drank with his buddies at the end of a long day at the office.
If you haven’t guessed from my title, or googled it by now, Beowulf’s beverage of choice was mead, a legendary libation crafted not from grapes (as my conviction may suggest) but honey. Yes, that’s right: you can get drunk from honey, provided you have the patience to let it ferment for a while first. Mead comes in a variety of styles, much like wine, although it’s nowhere near as popular these days, likely owing to the fact that bees are just plain unpleasant to be around for very long.
This particular bottle of mead, the Musee de l’Abeille L’oie des neiges (nonvintage), hails from Quebec, in the mystical land of Canada; and it was brought to me by my good friend Saul, who picked it up during a trip to Quebec, which of course makes perfect sense and requires no further elaboration. Google tells me the bottle retails for about $12, which is around what I’d paid for the mead I’d tried in the past and forgotten to take notes on (one from Long Island, NY; the other California). I stashed it away, and I waited.
Flash forward a month or so to this past Monday, when I celebrated my birthday and decided to pair my mead with a funny little thing called friendship, courtesy of my friends, Don and Alexi (Saul had unfortunately succumbed to spontaneous human combustion the week prior, and would never get to taste the gift he’d given me).
But the three of us weren’t about to let something so trivial as the loss of a good friend keep us from a great time, and so sitting down to view Tommy Wiseau’s haunting masterpiece The Room, we poured ourselves some honey wine and had at it.
In the glass this poured a very pale hue, practically clear, with only the faintest hint of straw coloring. On the nose, my first impression was that of Honeycomb – yes, the cereal, and not actual combs of honey. As for the palate, let’s just say the mead was unremarkable, but that didn’t stop my friend Alexi from remarking that it reminded him of lemon-flavored Jolly Ranchers, an appraisal with which I found myself agreeing progressively more as I worked my way through glass #1.
The first glass, though, as it tends to do, soon became a second, and candy-related childhood flashbacks aside, boredom quickly set in. Over time I got more honey-like notes from the mead, along with some yeasty aromas that reminded me more of beer than wine, which kept me a bit more intrigued. Following this, however, I was stricken (or stung, if you prefer) with the desire to read the mead – by which I mean the label on the mead, text being rather easier to read than most liquids.
And lo! What should I be fortunate enough to find but a serving suggestion for the very mead we were drinking? The bottle recommends mixing three parts mead with one crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), which we promptly did, having some cassis on hand to use as an aromatic reference point for blackcurrant while wine tasting (I highly recommend it).
The new drink – a variant on Kir, which uses white wine in place of mead – was far more quaffable, adding a delightful, fruity pungence, along with some body, to the mead, which on its own was a bit lacking in substance – sour and dry would be my two choice descriptors. In any case, with the help of our new Kir-esque concoction, the bottle was summarily emptied.
As far as ratings are concerned, it doesn’t seem fair to apply my scale here, this being the first mead I’ve written about…but you know what? I’m going to do it anyway.
The Musee de l’Abeille L’oie des neiges earns thumbs up, rising to in Kir mode.
So until next time, I guess there’s nothing left to say but wes Þu hal!