Mead has been knows and the 'Ancient Nectar of the Gods for All Modern Occasions.'

The drink of Irish High Kings, newlyweds, and festivals for a few thousand years, mead is a creative alternative to more traditional wines and compliments all meals.

For all things Irish, Old World, and New Age, mead (or meade) is a cutting edge honey wine to serve at parties, holidays, and informal gatherings. Actually, mead has been an 'in' drink for a very long time, as in over 2000 years. There are many artful ways to serve mead.

In Ireland, a traditional way to serve mead is hot, in earthen mugs. This hearkens back to the belief in its serving in the old times, at medieval tables to banish the damp and chill of a rainy climate. There are several ways hot mead can be served, similar to hot cider. Experiment with flavors that appeal.

Simply heated without additives; the medium but light sweetness of the wine is enhanced by the heat; serve as an aperitif. Add cinnamon or a cinnamon stick to stir in the serving mug; excellent in cold weather toddies - add rum.

In addition to the cinnamon stick in the mug, add a small cube of raw sugar, allowing it to slowly dissolve at the bottom of the mug; those who like especially sweet heady drinks will enjoy this version; serve as a dessert drink.

Add thin half-slices of a large orange to the serving container of the heated wine to allow the orange flavoring to steep in the wine before pouring; delicious served as a hot cocktail beverage and with roast chicken or roast pork main courses.

As a light wine, mead is good served cold. Simply chill and pour straight glasses of the chilled wine from the bottle to serve with main courses. Mead compliments all meat and fowl courses, and most fish.

Some people who prefer dry white wines for fish courses may be skeptical of trying mead at first. For fish, adding a twist of lemon to the serving glasses makes it a surprising complimentary accent.

The following are some suggestions as alternative ways of serving chilled mead with various types of entrees (in addition to the fine option of serving it plain and allowing its own natural flavor to speak for itself). Serve with:

  • chicken, garnish the wine glass with fresh cut orange, cherry garnish or tangerine;
  • lamb, garnish the wine glass with fresh lemon, or, add a sprig of mint (or both);
  • pork, garnish the wine glass with fresh orange, melon, or tangerine;
  • beef, garnish the wine glass with thin slice of apple or place a strawberry in the glass;
  • vegetarian dishes, garnish the wine glass with a thin slice of pear or apple;
  • desserts, add a teaspoon of a fruit liqueur and garnish with mint sprig or cinnamon stick.

Also, in any of the above meals, it is a dramatic and charming touch to simply put serving pitchers of mead on the table with the garnishes added in the pitchers; pour for guests hot, straight chilled or over ice.

As already mentioned, mead does quite well standing on its own legs. Serve it hot, cold on its own, or on the rocks, with or without garnishes of choice. Its adaptability, though, makes it a creative and tasty ingredient for wine highballs, spritzers, and sangrias.

Substitute mead for recipes that call for wine for a heady punch. Add it to vodka, rum, or gin with a cocktail mix for an original mixed drink.

However you choose to serve mead as a drink, beware of this beguiling and seemingly innocent nectar of the gods. Real mead should carry 14 to 15 percent alcohol content. Add that to its honey base, and it can carry clout for the uninitiated.

The following are some applications that work well.

  • use in basting roast fowl and pork;
  • recipes calling for white wine will do well with mead;
  • marinate fresh fruit;
  • add to dessert sauces;
  • use in salad dressings and marinating recipes.

Do not be afraid to use your imagination with this wine.