One marvelous morning back in the Stone Age, even before the wheel was invented, a forgetful caveman left his stone cup of honey outside, and rain got in it. Then, in an even bigger miracle, some wild yeast floated down into it.
And presto! Fermentation happened, and mead was invented. Historians say it may have been mankind’s first alcoholic beverage.
I mean, they didn’t write it down or anything, but that’s what historians say.
Some of mead’s early fans were the Vikings. They toasted each other by drinking mead out of the skulls of their slain enemies. And later that night, to weaken the resistance of fair maidens to their advances.
Bacchus was the god of mead before he was the god of wine.
Julius Caesar drank it.
Queen Elizabeth the First had her own royal recipe for mead.
Chaucer drank it, and so did Shakespeare. It’s probably responsible for their literary brilliance.
More recently, mead has been drunk after weddings. Hence the word “honeymoon.”
On into the Middle Ages, mead remained the drink of royalty while the commoners turned to beer. These days we have a lot less royalty around, so a lot less mead is drunk.
You can still buy it in good wine shops, though. It can be sweet or dry, sparkling or still, fruity or spicy. Some mead makers add grape juice, apple juice, herbs and/or spices.
Here’s a toast penned by the Bard himself, for the lips of Hamlet: “Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.”
Think he could write that without a flagon of mead?
Tasting note: Nonvintage Lurgashall Winery English Mead, West Sussex, United Kingdom: odd aroma of old charred oak, flavors of sweet honey and cinnamon, quite sweet, smooth. Price: $11.95 per 375-milliliter half bottle.