THE world’s oldest alcoholic drink is the perfect accompaniment for your Valentine’s Day dinner, says Lyme Bay Winery, the West Country drinks maker which has put mead back on the off-licence shelves and the cook’s working top.
Mead isn’t just a different drink; it’s a whole new drinks category. Made with honey, and believed to have been enjoyed by early man as much as 6,000 years ago, it is not only a legendary aphrodisiac, but also has fabled powers to turn even the dullest drinker into a scholar (well, that’s according to the Vikings who drank a lot of it!)
Once considered the drink of dwarves and hobbits, mead is the fastest growing sector of the American drinks industry and in the UK has been growing 10 per cent year on year for the last three years.
The aphrodisiac connections are actually reflected in the word ‘honeymoon.’ Mead was given to newlyweds because of its alleged fertility-boosting properties – a month’s supply of mead was often included in the bride’s dowry and led to the coining of the term ‘honeymoon’.
In 2003, the Royal Society of Chemists confirmed mead to be rich in B vitamins that help to maintain reproductive health, amino acids that are the building blocks of protein for increased fertility and nitric oxide that is good for male sexual health.
It is a delight to cook with – use it anywhere you might use sherry, marsala or other fortified or dessert wine. And it goes very well with a wide variety of food – it complements the spiciness of Chinese or Indian food, takes sticky toffee pudding to a whole new level and, if all else fails, pairs exquisitely with a cheeseboard.