Mead, a drink made from fermenting honey and water, may be the original nip, predating both wine and beer—chances are you know about it from reading ancient mythology rather than from chatting up your local wine merchant. Mead is hard to find today, so I was glad to find out about Heidrun Sparkling Dry Mead, possibly the world’s only naturally sparkling mead. While most mead is cloying, what’s so seductive about this one is that fermentation expands on honey’s fragrant, woodsy nuances while restraining the sweetness. It’s a treat to smell and taste all that in a glass of bubbly. Heidrun crafts a few different meads that range in style, as each uses a different artisan honey. My favorite is the Wildflower, which is subtly sparkling and full of perfumy aromas and flavors. It’s clean and light, slightly sweet, and has a dry finish. The mead is a delicious apéritif—try it with a nibble of smoked salmon—and it’s great for dessert, too—delicious on its own or with fruit and nuts. It’s a good match for Indian or Asian dishes with fragrant spice and a hint of sweetness (hot spice would overwhelm its subtle flavors).
Heidrun Sparkling Mead ($16) is unfiltered, so transport will make it cloudy; the bottle will settle after a few days of standing upright. To order, call the meadery at 877-434-3786 or visit www.heidrunmeadery.com.