The content for this article was provided by Hillary Bergh of foodheals.net. Hillary Bergh is a 5th generation chef with a passion for kitchen play. Growing up in the kitchens of her families' multiple restaurants gave her a solid foundation that was then developed further while working as a manager at Bouchon Bakery, chef and wine club manager at Swanson Vineyards, and executive chef at Google with Bon Appetit Management Company. She holds two culinary certifications along with a nutrition certification and is currently earning a bachelor of science in healthcare management.
What mead goes with mushrooms or lamb? Which mead should I bring to my bbq? Is there a mead best for burgers? What about Thai food? These are just a few of the questions received lately in Mead Market as people peruse the shelves full of colorful bottles. I'd like to provide a somewhat general introduction for your food pairing needs today and we'll dive deeper into specifics, along with recipes, in future posts. Please do post questions in the comments if you're looking for something in particular!
If you've attended a renaissance festival, you've provably sipped a mead made in a traditional old world style. These tend to be sweet, sticky, cloying, thick, and reminiscent of desserts wines such as Late Harvest, Noble Rot, and Port or other fortified styles. Serve the mead just a couple ounces at a time, as the sweetness is best in small sips. Enjoy in small cordial glasses if you have them. I find the sweetness begs to be offset with fatty and salty foods. For appetizers, try prosciutto wrapped asparagus, buttery sautéed mushrooms or even popcorn! Main entrees such as roast leg of lamb or braised rabbit will pair nicely. If you're feeling very indulgent, try seared foie gras and a chunk of richly stinky blue cheese for dessert. Avoid light, mild foods as they will be overwhelmed and avoid sweet desserts as they will compete.
We love the Sky River Sweet varietal for it's warm, caramel body and toasty nose and forward floral notes.
Looking for something a bit less sweet but not too dry? Try a semi-sweet mead, similar to Gewurtztraminer, Riesling, or perhaps Sherry. These can be served in standard measure in white wine glasses or in jelly jars for a unique table setting. One of my personal favorite pairings for semi-sweet meads is ethnic cuisines. For a simple appetizer, buy a selection of flavorful cheeses, some salted and spiced nuts, and thinly sliced cured meats then let your palate mix and match. I find the lighter and floral sweetness is a lovely counterbalance to the spices and depth of flavor in Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Latin dishes. If you're not wanting ethnic cuisine, most semi-sweet mead will also pair well with hearty grilled vegetables and meats. For dessert try it with creamy mildly sweet options such as creme brûlée, classic rice pudding, or coconut ice cream.
Mjodhamnen Fruktad Flyte is pleasant and bright semi-sweet mead with undertones of apple and pear.
There are plenty of meads that fit a dry wine profile as well, ranging from Sauvignon Blanc and Chablis to Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese. These are also very food friendly, and depending on the mead, will pair with a variety of foods. They may be served in large red wine glasses, narrower white wine glasses or you can try the jelly jars again! In general, they will do best with salads, light appetizers, most cheeses (avoid the very stinky ones here), seafood dishes, Italian and French cuisines, summer foods served at picnics or barbecues, or with a classic roast chicken. Some dry wines will work very well with desserts and others may compete so I suggest asking for specific guidance or doing some pre-tasting prior to your guests arrival if serving at a dinner party.
This dry Meadow Blossom Varietal from Fringe is refreshing and bright! It features forward notes of apricot and a flight tannin finish.
Similar to pairing wine, there are many options when it comes to food pairings for meads. One of my favorite "rules" in both cases... If you like the drink, the food, and the conversation, they will pair perfectly. Enjoy!