Mead – what is it?

Lindisfarne Mead - Selection of Mead Flavours
Mead is a honey-based drink that can be fermented from honey or wine (grape or mulsum mead). It has three underlying sweetness profiles; dry, semi-sweet and sweet. During the fermentation process yeast nutrient is used as the primary fermentable catalyst to react with sugar and as a biproduct creates alcohol. For beer the sugar comes from barley that is formed into malt, for wine the sugar comes from fruit and depending on the type of mead the fermentable sugar comes from either honey and or fruit which can on occasion result in secondary fermentation. Mead is a naturally sweetened drink, so do expect to taste it. Mead’s main taste driver is honey. Its sweetness how ever does vary though, depending on what kind of mead you are drinking.


A sweet mead resembles a dessert wine in terms of body, flavour and finish on the palate. It can be enjoyed with dessert or can stand proudly as a dessert wine on its own. It can have an alcohol content up to 20 % if needed, although a strength of around 14.5% is more suitable to after meal drinking connoisseurs we feel.


The semi-sweet varieties generally balance the sweetness and acidity of mead, so it is, perhaps, a good introduction to mead drinking. Its characteristics are usually similar to a medium-dry white wine. Why not try with cured meats or smoked fish?


A dry mead pairs well with savoury or spicy foods, much like a beer or cider. It can be used to accompany cheese too. With dry mead the flavours are more distinct. (see our Viking Mead Range, in particular our 793 which celebrates thousands of years of mead production on Holy Island and its local surrounds).

A bit more history

Mead has for a long time been called the drink of the Gods – we also call it  A Legend in Glass in the  Holy Island  region, since this has been a recognised area  of mead drinking since the time of the Romans, making it one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world. The island has links to Celtic, Roman and Viking traditions. It is believed that the Irish monks who came across with St. Aidan, whom the winery on the island is named after, settled on Lindisfarne and started producing their own batches of blended honey creating their own great mead. The monks’ mead was seen as a holy drink and an elixir for longevity and health which could easily be used by local folk as a form of medicine should they be at the priory. Lindisfarne Mead uses a Roman style mead recipe rather than Celtic; honey, local water drawn from the hills and fermented grapes. The addition of grapes cuts through the honey’s sweetness. Roman mead profiles often contain various herbs, fruit essences and spices (see our Lindisfarne Spiced Mead and Lindisfarne Pink Mead). Described in this way, Lindisfarne Mead resembles more of the Roman pyment/mulsum style of mead , which by using fermented grapes gives a nod to the Romans. The taste is light, smooth, with a sharp aftertaste – reminiscent of a sweet-wine. The label calls to mind the beautiful artwork of the Lindisfarne Gospels which were created on the island at Lindisfarne Priory in the 7th century AD. Indeed we have sold well over 2 million bottles of our Original Mead across the world. Do come to our winery to taste our honey based delights that can be enjoyed at our bar when the tides are open.