Tasting Chaucer’s Mead

I bought this on a whim to drink on Halloween night, waiting for trick-or-treaters… who never arrived. Seriously, not one. What the hell?

It cost me about $12. I mulled it and I must say, I rather enjoyed it. It was pretty darn sweet, and I probably steeped it too long, but I enjoyed the combination of the floral and honey notes mixed with the spicy cinnamon and clove. It was nothing special; I’m sure that there are better meads out there. Unmulled and slightly chilled, the floral honeyed aromas are very pleasent; the palate has a powerful apple note with lingering honey on the palate. What a great wine for Rosh Hashanah! Granted, that’s not until next September, but put it on your Google calendar and I’m sure you’ll remember to pick some up.

Chaucer bottle

Mead is honey wine. It’s made by blending honey and water, then adding yeast. Isn’t that beautifully simple? It’s only slightly younger than human civilization, so it will likely tap into your cerebral cortex at an ancestral level. Geoffrey Chaucer did indeed mention mead in his Canterbury Tales; the Miller’s to be precise:

He sang as tremulously as nightingale;
He sent her sweetened wine and well-spiced ale
And waffles piping hot out of the fire,
And, she being town-bred, mead for her desire.
For some are won by means of money spent,
And some by tricks, and some by long descent.

How awesome is that last couplet?

Mulling is a process in which wine is warmed and infused with spices. This is a very traditional practice, prevalent throughout Europe. Back when wine storage was crappy, wine went bad a lot, and an easy way to make it palateable (because the water would kill you) was to mull it. In Germany, it’s called glühwein, and made with red wine, cinnamon, clove and sugar. In Scandinavian countries, that same style wine is called glogg. Doesn’t that sound like some kind of arch-villain’s name in the next Shrek movie? Beware the Ogre Glogg!!!Chaucer instructions

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