Mead is a delightful alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey. However, because it’s a less commonly consumed alcohol than wine and beer, you may wonder how to serve and drink it for the best effect. There isn’t a single correct method, but there are some helpful hints that you should know for the best experience.
Here are a few tips on how to serve and drink mead for ultimate pleasure:
- Serve mead at fridge temperature or poured over ice.
- Serve mead warm on cold days.
- Drink mead straight from the bottle.
- Serve mead in a classic whiskey or wine glass.
- Pour your mead into a traditional drinking vessel.
- Smell the mead before you taste it.
- Take small sips.
- Accompany your mead with food.
- Pour the correct serving size.
You should try different serving and drinking techniques before deciding which one works best for you. This article will go into detail about how to serve mead. In addition, I’ll discuss what drinkware works best and at what temperature different types of mead should be served.
1. Serve Mead at Fridge Temperature or Poured Over Ice
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Just like pale lager beer, light-colored mead tastes best when it’s ice cold. More than that, carbonated mead can actually taste bad at room temperature.
Just like with white wine, a cool serving temperature will accentuate the subtle flavors of light-colored meads.
If your mead is really sweet, the coldness can make the sweetness less overwhelming.
You can serve cold mead straight from the fridge. It’ll be at around 40° F (4° C), turning it into a refreshing treat in summer. If you keep mead at room temperature, pouring it over a couple of ice cubes quickly drops the temperature to around 45° F (7.2° C).
However, there’s a downside to drinking mead at such a low temp. Our taste buds can’t make out subtle flavors when your mead is too cool. That said, it’s still the preferred option for light-colored meads.
But how do you serve strong, dark-colored mead?
Mead aficionados suggest leaving heavy mead at room temperature for 20-30 minutes after taking it out of the fridge. This allows the mead to reach the perfect serving temperature of around 55° F (12.8° C).
At 55° F (12.8° C), you can taste the complete profile of your mead.
2. Serve Mead Warm on Cold Days
Christmas markets around the world love to serve heated mulled wine. If you cherish mulled wine, you’ll fall in love with mulled mead. Mulled mead combines the rich flavor of caramelized honey with your favorite Christmas spices.
Additionally, as some of the water and alcohol in the drink evaporates when heated, the resulting mead will be sweeter and more comfortable to drink.
Here’s how to warm up your mead to serve it as a hot beverage:
- Pour mead into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Don’t use cookware with a thin bottom because it’ll burn your mead.
- Optionally, add Christmas spices such as cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and nutmeg.
- Warm up the mead on low to low-medium heat.
- Allow the mead to reach a temperature of around 130°-140° F (54.4°-60° C). If the mead is heated above 140° F (60° C), you’ll lose the subtle notes.
- Serve immediately.
If you don’t have a thermometer to check the mead’s temperature, use the palm of your hand instead and touch the side of the saucepan. If you are able to hold your hand against the saucepan for about 4-5 seconds before it becomes too hot to the touch, the drink is at approximately 140° F (60° C).
Hot mead is great on a cold winter’s day!
3. Drink Mead Straight From the Bottle
One of the best ways to enjoy any alcoholic beverage is straight from the bottle. Take the bottle from the fridge, crack it open, and drink up.
If you’re camping with friends, pass a large bottle of mead around the campfire. You’ll have the time of your life, and the mead will somehow taste better than usual!
4. Serve Mead in a Classic Whiskey or Wine Glass
You probably own some fancy whiskey or wine glasses already. So, use them to serve mead to your guests.
I pour dark meads into whiskey glasses. The crystal pattern makes the drink look luxurious and super fancy.
Likewise, light and golden yellow meads look best in wine glasses. You may even be able to trick your guests into believing it’s amber-colored white wine, which means they’ll be in for a treat when they take their first sip of your favorite honey mead instead!
5. Pour Your Mead Into a Traditional Drinking Vessel
Nothing says Viking like drinking traditional mead from a horn. Drinking horns made by hollowing out bull horns have been used for centuries all over Western Europe.
Channel your inner Viking by using the (available on Amazon.com) to drink your mead. This handcrafted ox horn has a gorgeous, smooth finish and comes with a matching stand.
If classic mead horns aren’t exactly your style, a perfect alternative is a wooden tankard. Get a large mead tankard for your sweet honey brew.
You’ll instantly teleport to a tavern in the Middle Ages each time you take a sip.
6. Smell the Mead Before You Taste It
Wine connoisseurs believe that sniffing your drink before tasting it significantly improves your experience.
High-quality mead has an aroma so complex that it could put many Cabernet Sauvignons to shame. So, to take a page out of wine tasters’ book, swirl your mead a few times and take a big sniff.
Smelling your mead allows you to take in the rich aromas of fermented honey.
7. Take Small Sips
A major difference between mead and beer is that you can’t chug mead.
Even low ABV mead should be sipped like a fine sherry or spirit.
Swish the mead before you swallow it. Allow it to coat your entire mouth. You want the mead to reach every taste bud in your mouth. Make sure to take your time to enjoy the sweet aroma that lingers afterward.
If you want to enjoy your mead slowly, get a bottle of the thickest mead you can find. Keep in mind that drinking too much mead too quickly will make you feel dizzy and lightheaded, which is why we recommend going slow.
8. Accompany Your Mead With Food
While you can serve mead to your guests by itself, pairing it with food will deliver a more enjoyable experience.
Mead tastes fantastic in any combination. However, while you can experiment, there are some “rules” that will make your experience more pleasurable:
- Serve strong meads with heavy or spicy food like steak, tacos, and cheese. You want a drink that can keep up with the other flavors.
- Medium and lighter mead can be paired with pretty much anything. Serve sparkling mead with fruits, nuts, poultry, and salads.
- If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll love drinking mead with desserts. Chocolate desserts like soufflé and brownies will complement your rich mead. Additionally, lighter desserts like cheesecake, fruitcake, and rice pudding are a great option if you want to cut through the extreme sweetness that mead provides.
9. Pour the Correct Serving Size
The serving size of your mead largely depends on the alcohol by volume, or ABV for short.
The right serving size is 12 ounces (354 ml) for light meads with an ABV similar to beer. Medium meads in the 8-15% ABV range should be poured in a wine or whiskey glass. One serving is five ounces (147 ml), which is about half of the glass.
Lastly, heavy meads above 15% ABV should follow the serving size of liquors. About 1.5 ounces (44 ml) per serving will keep your guests happy.
Mead can be enjoyed both cold or hot, but not at room temperature. You can serve mead in any drinking vessel of your choice, but wine and whiskey glasses are best.
Drink your mead slowly so that you can enjoy the complete aroma of the drink.