How to Host a Mead Tasting Party

FOR A MEAD/WINE TASTING

First you must choose the type of tasting you would like to host.

  • Vertical Tasting: Tasting one specific type of wine/mead from the same producer but different years. Ex: Tasting Chaucer’s Traditional   Mead from 2007, 2009, and 2011.
  • Horizontal Tasting: Select one type of wine/mead from a specific year but different producers. Ex: Select a 2006 Cabernet from 4 different wineries.
  • Old World vs New World Tasting: Select one type of wine/mead from the Old World (Europe-France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, and Portugal) vs the New World (North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
  • Wine and Cheese Tasting (Click here for a specific pairing guide between wine and cheese)
  • Wine and Chocolate Tasting (Click here for a specific pairing guide for wine and chocolate)
  • “Priceless” Tasting: Withhold the price to prevent taste bias
  • “Price-Point” Tasting: Used to establish a baseline price to compare ‘apples to apples’ in a given flight of drinks
  • Big Eight Wine Tasting: Offer the world’s most popular and influential wines in the market. The Red Wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah/Shiraz. The White Wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio.
  • Blind Tasting: Number the specific bottles and allow guests to write their own notes about each drink based on their senses.

Determine your guest list and send out invitations at least 2 weeks in advance. I prefer to use evites since they’re free. Also when deciding a number of guests remember that one 750ml bottle can serve up to 12 people if using the 2oz tasting rule.

Pick a place where there is enough table room and chairs to comfortably seat your guests and the flights of wines/meads/beer. Decide whether you want the tasters to bring their own glasses or not. Don’t rinse the glass between servings because a single drop of water can dilute your wine/mead.

Design a Tasting Card that specifies the type of drink, the year, and brief description. Allow room for guests to record the drink’s distinct appearance, aroma, flavor, etc. Make sure you bring a sufficient amount of pens/pencils.

Print out a small handout on how to properly taste wine/mead/beer.

Provide relaxing, smooth music to create a blissful ambiance.

Some general rules for tastings:

  • Whites before Reds
  • Dry before Sweet
  • Older before Younger

Provide plain bread and water for guests to cleanse their palates between tastings. Hold off eating till later because spicy aromatic foods can influence the tasting.

 

References:

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

How to Host a Wine Tasting

Liquor and Wine Outlet How to Host a Wine Tasting

Real Simple How to Host a Wine Tasting 

The Nest How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

Advertisements

Passing the Test: How to Evaluate Mead

These slides from BJCP teach you what exactly you’re looking for when tasting a mead. They also released a Mead Exam Study Guide.

Mead is evaluated based on its style. The most common categories offered in competitions include: traditional, melomels, methelglins, braggots, and mixed category.

Factors that are taken into consideration when judging your mead:

  • Aftertaste:
  • Aroma:
  • Appearance:
  • Bubbles:
  • Carbonation:
  • Color:
  • Cork:
  • Drinkability:
  • Flavor:
  • Mouthfeel:
  • Strength:
  • Sweetness:

The most basic concern when judging your mead is BALANCE- balance between the acidity-sweetness-tannins, and balance between the honey taste and other taste like fruit or spice. You then want to make sure you can distinguish the honey in taste and aroma. Lastly you want to focus on the expression of the additional flavors (fruits or spices) that will affect certain factors when judging your mead such as color, taste, and aroma.

According to BJCP these are steps to take when judging mead:

  1. As soon as the sample of mead is poured, inhale the aromas and jot down your notes.
  2. Then check the sample for color, carbonation, and clarity.
  3. Smell the mead again and take a SLOW sip. Distinguish the flavors you are tasting, where in your mouth the flavors seem to be more prominent, and how the sample feels on your tongue. Was there a lingering aftertaste and what was it?
  4. Between each sample cleanse your palate with water or plain crackers and bread.

There are more resources available at the BJCP Mead Exam Resources

References:

Beer Judge Certification Program- Index to Mead Guidelines

BJCP Mead Scoresheet

Bella Online 

Preamble to “A Treatise on Mead Judging”