If you think that wine is produced only from fruits, you are wrong. Honey wine goes down in history as the oldest drink known to the world. Mjød, also known as honey wine, which is supposed to be drunk by the ancient Greek gods, turns into a very delicious drink by fermenting honey. But there are those who call this wine a liqueur and those who say it looks like beer. And there are those who say that this can only be wine. Reviews may vary depending on the consistency. So what exactly is this honey wine?
Honey wine is an alcoholic beverage obtained by fermentation of honey diluted in varying proportions. Its typical color varies from clear yellowish to dark brown depending on the color of the honey from which it is produced, and the alcohol content varies between 8-18%. In addition, it is produced in different colors, tastes, and hardness, depending on the source of the honey used in its production, its properties, the ratio of honey and water used, and the time when fermentation is terminated.
Honey wine is not generally named after honey type but is classified according to a number of additional substances added to its content during the construction phase. Common types include traditional Mead, Etheglin, Melomel, Cyser, Pyment, Hippocras, Sack, and Hydromel.
The Origin of Honey Wine
Honey wine was the most common drink until grape wine became widespread in the 18th century. It is known that honey wine (mead), which is inherited from the Vikings, was frequently consumed by the Gauls, Ancient Romans, and Ancient Greeks. We can even go back even further for the history of mead, and mead can be found in cave paintings made around 2 thousand BC. For this reason, it is known as the oldest drink in history, and some call it the legacy of the Vikings, some call it the wine of the gods.
There are some rumors that the first beer was accidentally made as a result of the leavening of a forgotten bread. Of course, such rumors are also in question for honey wine. In such cases, we proceed from guesses and clues due to the sterility of evidence and remains. Estimates suggest that honey wine is formed by the fermentation of honey combined with rainwater. This sweet drink is spreading around the world in a very short time with its comforting side and sweet taste.
According to a rumor, the word and concept of honeymoon come from honey wine. Based on the Babylonian tradition of newly married couples drinking honey wine for 30 days, it is estimated that this concept originated for the delicious taste of the honey and, of course, due to the aphrodisiac effect of wine. Although this tradition, which breeds for the couple to quickly turn into a real family by having a child, has survived to this day, it also differs according to the mythologies of different countries.
The reason why it was called the drink of the gods was that in ancient times it was believed that bees brought news from the gods. The bees were believed to come from heaven and the honey they produced was considered sacred and consuming it was also considered sacred. When honey is fermented and drunk, it was believed to endow the drinker with divine power and intelligence. For this reason, it was a drink often consumed in ancient festivals.
How to Make Honey Wine
Honey is defined as a sweet product that is formed as a result of the collection of by-products secreted by some iso-winged insects by honey bees, by making use of the nectar or living parts of the flowers of plants, by changing their composition in their bodies, storing them in honeycomb cells and maturing there. There are many types of honey, depending on the types of flowers the bees collect nectar from.
The color of honey varieties can vary from very light to very dark, and the taste can also be weak or rather harsh, depending on the source from which the honey is produced. Honey, which has come to the fore with its positive effects on health, especially due to its anti-infective and antibacterial properties, from history to the present, can also be consumed as “Honey Wine”, an alternative evaluation method other than the edible version.
Honey wine is defined as “an alcoholic beverage containing 9% to 18% alcohol, obtained as a result of the fermentation of honey must and aromatization with various spices, fruits, hops, etc. aromatic plants and fruits”. Honey wine was produced and consumed as an important alcoholic beverage, especially in ancient Greek culture. Today, it is still consumed as a popular beverage in Central Europe and the Baltic countries.
While Poland stands out as the most important honey wine producer; France, Spain, Portugal, and England are other important producing countries. Although there are various applications in the production of honey wine all over the world, the basic production steps are generally the same. In addition to these production steps, fortification and sugar addition are made from time to time after fermentation.
Thanks to the invertase enzyme they secrete, the bees invert sucrose and reduce it to fructose and glucose, and while turning the nectar they collect from flower essences into honey, they evaporate the amount of water that prevents fermentation from occurring. Therefore, for the production of mead, a certain concentration of honey must be fermented by mixing it with water.
It is possible to produce honey wines with a wide range of flavors and aromas by using the source from which the honey is obtained and the spices to be added, various aromatic plant mixtures, or various fruits. Different production recipes used all over the world play an important role in the classification of honey wines. There are differences between natural honey wines without herbs and spices and wines obtained by adding these extracts.
Fruit wines with 30% water and fruit juice are generally used in aromatic honey wines. Expanding the production of mead for countries with significant amounts and aromatic variety of honey will provide an important added value economically, as there are very few mead producer companies commercially in Europe and around the world.
Honey Wine Production Stages
Honey is defined as a sweet product that is formed as a result of the collection of by-products secreted by some insects by honeybees, by making use of the nectar or living parts of the flowers of plants, and storing them in the honeycomb cells by changing their composition in their bodies and maturing there. Although honey is generally thought of as a fruit product, it is mostly obtained from the flowers of fruit trees.
Honey wine is also made by methods similar to fruit wine production methods. Champagne or wine yeast is used in fermentation. If desired, it can be fortified with brandy up to 18-20% alcohol. Citric acid is added as an acid stabilizer, and DAP, calcium, and magnesium chloride are added as yeast nutrients.
Honey wine is produced by boiling and without boiling. For unboiled honey wines, a cold mix of water and honey is required. Although this application has some advantages in terms of enzyme, vitamin, and aroma preservation, it has not been supported. Because in this application, fermentation does not occur sufficiently, clarification is difficult and raw honey and wax cannot be prevented from remaining in the final product. The method can be recommended for making bee honey brandy.
The method of boiling honey has found wide application in the industry. Herbal and spice extracts are added to honey diluted with water as much as possible. The foam formed as a result of boiling is removed by scraping. Fast boiling provides more convenient fermentation. Thus, the separation of formic acid is ensured and the proteins are also precipitated, resulting in a better result in clarification. The drink produced in this way is better in terms of taste and smell. After boiling, the cider is cooled, as it is avoided turning into compote.
In the production of dry wine from honey, the Brix is adjusted to about 22 by diluting the honey first. Since bee honey contains low concentrations of nitrogenous compounds, the inclusion of nitrogenous compounds as yeast feed is mandatory. For this purpose, 0.3-0.5 g/L of DAP is usually added. Nitrogenous compounds required by wine yeast in autolysis accelerate the fermentation flow considerably and allow fermentation to progress. The organic acid content of honey is also low, and it is acidified by the excretion of tartaric or citric acid.
The citric acid to be given is 5 g/L. In addition, 1 g of potassium bitartrate, 0.25 g of MgCl2 (magnesium chloride), and 0.25 g of CaCl2 (calcium chloride) are dissolved in some diluted honey by heating and mixing and given to the main batch. 100 mg/L SO2 and 2-3% yeast are added to the mixture. Yeast can be reproduced in pasteurized and diluted honey.
The optimum fermentation temperature is 15-25 0C and takes 6-8 weeks. Fermentation conditions have a great effect on the quality of the product to be formed. The first transfer is made three weeks after the end of fermentation. If the fermentation temperature is higher and the honey is lighter in color, the first transfer can be made later.
Aging usually takes place in oak barrels at 10-150C. During the resting process, transfers are made at regular intervals. It is marketed with stabilization, filtration, pasteurization, and clarification. In bottling, ceramic or glass bottles of the appropriate type are used for this purpose, and filling is done under sterile conditions.
Homemade Honey Wine
So what if we want to make honey wine at home? This is of course possible, it is very simple to do, but the part that requires patience is to wait for 6 months for it to ferment. Still, if we are going to reach a delicious taste, I think it is not an unexpected time. We have to find good honey for this wine in the first place. Wine made with market honey is not tasty and will not give a good result.
If you can find honey made from aromatic flowers or orange flowers, don’t miss it. But I leave this slim possibility aside and proceed only by considering that we have found a real flower honey. Obtain from large 15-liter plastic fermenting containers. Put 4 kilos of real filtered flower honey in it, and put 4 liters of water at 70 degrees. I think we all know now that honey should not meet with boiling water.
Stir for a long time, and let the honey melt well. Then keep adding until you have completed 12 liters of your room temperature water. Mix slowly throughout this process. Make sure the honey is completely dissolved in the water. The temperature of your mixture should not be more than 22 degrees or less than 20 degrees.
Finally, add wine yeast according to the density of your mixture. (You can also use brewer’s yeast if you want your drink to be like beer) There are counters in beer and wine production sites to accurately proportion the density and yeast, you can get support from there.
Finally, close the mouth of the bucket tightly and shake it lightly for 3-4 minutes, and let the air in it escape. The first fermentation will take place by waiting for 1 week with the mouth closed. Then, bottle your drinks and leave them for a second fermentation for 6 months in a place where there is no sun. Do not forget that this time is not too long for this great taste.
Mjød: A Honey Wine Known as the Drink of the Gods
The honey potion of medieval knights and Vikings is believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. Have you ever wondered what powerful potion the Vikings power themselves with as they cross the oceans? The answer lies in the humble honeybee and in the beverage it helps produce, Mjød. Mjød is an alcoholic beverage that is consumed hot in winter, often alongside gingerbread biscuits. Most of the beverage’s fermented sugar comes from honey, and it’s popularly nicknamed Honey Wine. It is also known as a honey liqueur.
It consists of honey and water fermented with yeast. However, it can also be flavored with fruits, spices, grains, and/or hops. It also has a category of its own, somewhere between beer and wine. Possibly the ancestor of all spirits, mead has delighted people throughout history, from humble workers to soldiers, pirates, and even the Royal Family. And while its popularity has waned in recent centuries, the Modern Age has revived this ancient, golden-colored beverage.
Mjød is both beer-like and not beer-like. Mjød tends to be slightly stronger than beer. Ken Schramm, the author of The Compleat Meadmaker, points out that one of the similarities to beer is that Honey Wine is served in various sub-styles. These subgenres include Braggot, which is a mead mixed with beer or malt and hops; Melomel, a Honey Liqueur with added fruit; Hydromel, a reconstituted Melomel (popular in Spain and France); and Great Mead, the Honey Liquor intended for aging.
Mjød is also both like wine and not like wine. The taste can range from crunchy and dry to rich and sweet. Although often referred to as Honey Wine, this is not entirely true. And the alcohol content is usually higher than beer and is between 8 and 20% like grape wine.
Honey Wine occupies a somewhat dangerous position between beer and wine. Legally, Mjød is produced in “wineries” and bottles are often sold in wine shops. However, it often falls under the Craft Beer category, thanks to the presence of hops, which some brewers choose to add as a natural preservative. But the truth is that Honey Liqueur, like Sake, makes up its own category.
Chinese ceramic vessels from 7000 BC show evidence of mead fermentation that precedes both wine and beer. The first batch of Honey Liquor was probably a chance discovery: Early foragers drank the contents of a beehive filled with naturally fermented rainwater, possibly with the help of airborne yeast. Once knowledge of mead production emerged, it spread globally and was popular with the Vikings, Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
Mead, or Mjød as it is Nordic, has played a historically important role in many Scandinavian celebrations dating back to Viking times. Most people in Denmark know mead from history lessons as a Viking drink that is drunk with beer.
Called the “Drink of the Gods” by the ancient Greeks, Mjød was believed to be the dew from heaven collected by bees. Many European cultures viewed bees as messengers of the Gods, and therefore Mjød was associated with other magical powers such as immortality, divine power, and intelligence. For this reason, Mjød continued to be an important factor in Greek ceremonies even after the eventual decline in popularity of the drink.
Honey Wine Instead of Medicine
Today’s doctors are unlikely to prescribe mead, but some strains made with herbs or spices were used as medicine in the early years of England. Mixing herbs into a sweet mead made them tastier, and different varieties were thought to improve digestion, help with depression, and alleviate hypochondria.
This type of spicy herbal honey is called metheglin, which is derived from the Welsh word for medicine. Healthline says that according to research in its article on this, honey has powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. However, there isn’t enough evidence to support that honey still has these magical feelings after it’s fermented.
The fermentation aspect can still be a health plus in its own right, though. Beneficial little live microorganisms called probiotics may be present in this naturally fermented beverage, but it is still unclear how effective or concentrated they are, possibly because other ingredients used in a particular mead can affect or even destroy bacteria.
A single honey bee produces one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey per day. Every drop counts, as most Honey Liqueurs require as much as two gallons of sweet stuff. The honey used determines the general flavor of the Honey Liquor and may vary according to the pollen selection of the honey bee. Traditional Mjød usually uses light honey such as orange blossom, clover, or acacia. But it works great with stronger spiced honey types like wildflower, blackberry, and buckwheat.
Sweet, dry, stagnant, or frothy, they all define Mjød varieties. But if you mix up Mjød’s family tree a little more, you’ll meet more eccentric relatives. You may already know about Meteglin, but don’t forget Melomel, a Honey Liqueur containing fruit juice or fruit, such as blackberries and raspberries. Then there’s Cyser, an Apple-based Honey Liqueur; Acerglyn made with Maple Syrup; Braggot, a Honey Liquor/Beer mix made with Hops or Barley; Rhodomel, a very old style adorned with roses, and more.
In fact, the term “honeymoon” comes from the medieval tradition of drinking Honey Wine for the full moon cycle after a new marriage. This tradition will supposedly ensure a fruitful union that will bear many children. This Honey Wine-based insurance policy was taken so seriously that a bride’s father would often add a month of Honey Wine to her dowry.
Mjød, or Mead, is not only the beverage of the ocean-going Vikings and the mummified Royal family, it is also a popular choice today. There are currently almost 250 Meaderies in America and even Mead Festivals nationwide celebrating the ancient drink. The resurgence of this sparkling beverage seems warranted as interest in brewing and distillation continues.
“Honey has a distinctive flavor due to the fermented honey, but depending on the ingredients added, it is similar to fruit wine, white wine, or even a hard cider,” explains experts. They say the best Mjød samples “retain or enhance the complexities of high-quality honey and add floral, earthy, or white wine-like aromatic ingredients from fermentation to complement the honey’s flavor.
While Ethiopians usually drink Tej’i in a glass bowl with onions called Berele, today it is usually served in wine glasses in the United States. This is also the name of the world’s largest International Mead Contest, although sometimes the drink comes from Germany in a special drinking bowl such as a Mazer Cup.
Mjød is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. Due to honey’s potential probiotic content, it is touted as offering various health benefits, but scientific evidence to support these claims is still lacking. In addition, the alcohol content can take away all the benefits of honey and cause serious health problems. If you do consume it, as with any other alcoholic beverage, be in moderation and enjoy it responsibly.
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