Written by
Alan Boatright

Honey Wine vs Mead

When you perform a search for Mead and Honey wine, you will see some debates centering around honey wine vs. mead. Even though the complexity of mead and honey wine is immense, the honey wine vs. mead debate is very straightforward.

The two drinks are very different from one another while being essentially the same. They differ in recipes, taste, production, historical lineage, and just about any aspect of an alcoholic beverage.

Comparison between Honey Wine vs Mead

However, the two terms can be used interchangeably due to the several similarities between the drinks. To help you get past the honey wine vs. mead debate easily, we have curated the similarities and differences between the two beverages for you in this article.

What is Mead, and What is it Made of?

What is Mead, and What is it Made of

Mead is an alcoholic beverage that runs back to ancient history. Evidence of its which historical significance is apparent from its mentions in the epic poem Canterbury Tales and its significance in the culture of Vikings.

Mead is possibly the ancestor of alcoholic drinks as we know them today. It has been regarded as the Gods' drink, and meadows have been present for as far back as Aristotle and Chaucer. So much so that Chinese pottery vessels date mead fermentation to 7000 B.C.E.

Mead is sometimes referred to as honey wine. However, that terminology is not completely accurate because of several reasons. Both the drinks have very distinctive culture and ingredient differences.

Mead is a fermented drink made of honey and water with yeast acting as a catalyst. No other alcoholic beverage follows the same fermentation process as mead, making it a distinctive category by itself.

Even if meads are flavored with several fruits, they still do not fall under the wide category of grape wine. Such fruit-infused meads are called melomel.

The difference between mead and other drinks is accentuated because some variants of alcoholic beverages can even be made of herbs and spices. Different herbal meads or metheglin recipes make mead effective for different ailments such as hypochondria and depression. 

The most important thing affecting mead's taste is the honey used to ferment and produce it. The better the honey and blend of herbs, the more royal the drink becomes. So much so that Queen Elizabeth II is known to maintain her favorite recipe of mead.

Even though mead is this ancient and royal, thanks to Dylan Sprouse, Alissa Sanderson, and the craft of distillation and craft beer, mead is still in popularity. In recent years, the beverage has become darker in color and sweet enough to be compared to Maple Syrup.

What is Honey Wine, and What is it made of?

What is Honey Wine, and What is it made of

Like Mead, Honey Wine is known to be one of the most ancient alcoholic beverages globally. Mead and honey wine are two terms often used interchangeably for a good reason. However, we cannot ignore the difference between mead production.

While mead is made by fermenting high-quality honey and water with yeast's help, honey wine follows a little different process.

To be considered within the category of wine, honey wine must include fruit fermentation. All wines are a form of fruit wine because they involve using some fruits and fermenting them in fixed settings to develop an alcoholic drink.

Honey wine is like melomel because it is made by fermenting honey and water and fruits such as grapes and blueberries. Just like mead, honey wine also enjoys royalty. Queen Makeda gifted King Solomon T'ej, an exclusive honey wine from Ethiopia.

Mead makers almost always master the craft of producing honey wines, and they produce the drink in meadery. This is because the fermentation process, even though different, is very similar to a recipe followed by a mead maker.

The only difference between the two is the addition of fruits instead of herbs in a meadery while producing honey wine.

Like craft beer, honey wine is versatile and hangs between beer, wine, and mead. Even the “Beer Judge Certification Program” evaluates both mead and honey wine like beer in terms of taste, fermentation, and health benefits.

Just like mead, honey wine is also known for its medicinal properties. Even though no modern doctor will recommend consuming honey wine for ailments today, honey wine was known to cure several diseases in the medieval years.

The drink is known for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, even though there is not much known about the drink's medicinal value. It is known to be beneficial for some issues because it is made by way of fermenting probiotics that are known for their numerous health benefits.

Both mead and honey wine are very, very ancient drinks and are known for their several health benefits. However, unlike mead, honey wine has been going strong all this time.

People have created drinks such as wine mead to cover the small distance between the two drinks. Moreover, honey wine has made meaderies extremely popular due to their popular production.

What is the Difference Between Mead and Honey Wine?

What is the Difference Between Mead and Honey Wine

Mead and honey wine are two terms used interchangeably with one another, and people doing so are not completely wrong. However, if we consider the most royal and popular honey wine t'ej and compare it with mead, we will see some significant differences between the two.

  • T'ej contains about 20% less honey than mead.
  • While mead needs to be fermented for at least a few months before consumption, t'ej can be consumed only 3-6 weeks after the fermentation process had started.
  • Traditional mead is devoid of fruits and is generally made with a special blend of spices and herbs, while t'ej is made with a special blend of fruits.

Is Mead Stronger than Wine?

Mead is a booze that is historically known to have a high content of alcohol and is infamous for being extremely strong. Since mead is very similar to other alcoholic drinks such as beer and honey wine, their strength is one of the defining differences between all the drinks.

Meads are known to have high alcohol, which can be anything between 6 - 20% ABV. However, wines are known to have a much lower volume of spirit that seldom goes above 15%.

The defining things making a difference in a mead's strength are the creative process and the kind of honey used.

Is Mead Illegal?

Consuming mead has been popular among royalties for millennia at least. Even in the present time, making mead is legal in the United States and a lot of other western countries. However, manufacturing mead is illegal in various Muslim majority countries where spirits, in general, are banned.

Even though you can legally make Mead in the United States, selling it as a product is illegal in several states. The only way you can sell mead legally within the US is by paying local, federal, and state taxes on the product. Moreover, the spirit must pass certain cleanliness tests before it hits the market.

Is There a Difference Between Mead and Honey Wine?

One of the most confusing things about the honey wine vs. mead debate is that most people cannot come to a straightforward conclusion. Coming to a final verdict ourselves has not been easy due to the several factors affecting the debate.

However, with careful evaluation, we have concluded that mead and honey wine are two distinctive drinks. However, when someone uses the terms interchangeable, they are not entirely wrong.

Honey wine is made in a meadery by a mead master and stored in a mead hall. Moreover, the making process is very similar to that of a fruit mead or braggot.

When people try to put mead and honey wine such as t'ej in the same category, they might not be perfectly right. However, comparing a light wine mead to honey wine is perfectly fine.

Both mead and honey wine have similar taste profiles owing to the honey, water, and yeast recipe. Both the products have similar alcohol content and are considered products of royalty and divinity in history.

If we look at braggot, it is the perfect in-between of beer, honey wine, and mead. It is a drink made by brewing barley and grain and has very similar properties to the three aforementioned beverages.

Therefore, it is hard to differentiate between honey wine and mead. They are very similar and have several similar derivatives, making them almost indistinguishable.

Since there are too many varieties of drinks in the field of culinary art, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two products.

What is a Honey Wine Mead?

What is a Honey Wine Mead

Have you been going through the Internet to find an alternative way to make this debate simple? You are not the only one. The difference between mead and honey wine is so small that it of very difficult to distinguish between the two.

Therefore, as the American Mead Makers Association has observed, some people have started producing a honey wine mead in their meadery. Honey wine mead is a drink that uses the grain, honey, and yeast in the water to create the perfect blend of alcohol and flavor.

Honey wine mead is the name given to the drink that cannot be distinguished from honey wine and mead. It can be enjoyed as a diet alcohol drink or with cookies. Whatever you choose to do, it is a legal drink and can be found in most United States menu cards.

Summing Up - Honey Wine vs Mead

When you compare honey wine with mead and call the two things indistinguishable, you are not completely wrong. However, you are not completely right either since the two products have some differences other than being yeast-catalyzed versions of fermentation of honey in water.

Since the main ingredient in both the drinks is the same, many believe that the two drinks' name could be used interchangeably. On careful comparison, there are very slight differences between mead and honey wine.

Therefore, it is okay to use the name of the two drinks interchangeably. However, it is important to remember that there are some fundamental differences between the two that cannot be ignored.

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