Have you had a chance to try out some mead yet?
If you haven’t noticed, it’s having a little bit of a moment, and Eno Fine Wines has dutifully stocked up on interesting varieties for you to try.
Mead is a fermented honey wine, but is often made with herbs, spices, or fruits. While it sounds like a shortcut to a hangover, people are quickly realizing that it’s become a much more sophisticated drink than usually depicted in viking movies. Light, fragrant, and complex, meads are a tasty way to diversify your liquor cabinet.
In this post, we’re featuring a mead from South Africa called iQhilika. Stop by Eno to see which one you should try first!
iQhilika is produced within the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. The Xhosa people, as well as the descendants of the Khoi-San group of peoples who inhabit the region, produced the beverage by taking the specially-prepared roots of succulents of the Trichodiadema genus and mixing this with honey, fruits, and/or spices. Sometimes pollen or an extract of bee larvae (similar to ‘royal jelly’) is added to the brew.
Varieties sold at Eno Fine Wines:
African Bird’s Eye Chili Mead
Honey flavors are immediately followed by hot pepper flavors. Äì pepper heat lingers into finish. Extremely complex balance of honey & pepper. Pepper heat not overwhelming. Delightful and inviting. This mead is aged over roasted, indigenous African chili peppers which lend a spicy tickle to the palate. Stimulating & bold, this mead is best paired with fried fish dishes, curries, or as an aperitif at dinner parties. It also serves well as an ingredient in many cocktails.
Cape White Fig Mead
The Cape Fig was spread throughout South Africa in the 1600s and 1700s by early colonists. These trees grew rapidly in the climate, and the fruit of the fig tree was established as a local favorite. Later it was discovered that the leaves of the tree, however, actually held a greater concentration of flavors than the fruit. For this reason, the leaves of the Cape Fig were chosen to blend with the Sweet Mead from the Makana Meadery to create a metheglin (spiced mead) that tastes like honeyed fruit.
Ideal with an assorted cheese selection, iQhilika Cape Fig Mead tempers the sweetness of the honey with the delicious fruit notes of fig to provide a versatile drink suitable both for before- and after-dinner consumption.
African Coffee Mead
In the southern most corner of the Wild Coast in South Africa, there is a small coffee estate called Transkei Gold, located in the Coffee Bay area. In the early 1900s, the estate had fallen into disrepair and its coffee trees had reverted to the wild. Over the next 90 years, the trees cross-pollinated each other and a new, hardy strain developed, adapting to the edge of the mangrove swamps of the area. These wild coffee saplings only recently started to experience significant growth, and have since been organized into plantations to be cultivated.
This rarest of African coffees, grown organicly and sold only to exclusive outlets, is harvested as part of a community job creation project. Local village people are brought on to cultivate and tend the crops, along with volunteers from Europe & the United States. The profits from this project are returned to the community to support education, health care, and clean water projects.
This exclusive coffee is blended with Makana Meadery Sweet Mead to produce a robust beverage ideal for accompanying after-dinner treats. A bit of carmelized honey has been added to the recipe to integrate the flavors of African wildflowers with the roast expressions of the coffee.