The Centennial State may not be the first place to come to mind when you think of wine, but Talon Wine Brands is changing that. Located on Colorado’s Western Slope, Talon Wine Brands is proud to produce Colorado wine, with vineyards grown in the surprisingly fertile soils of Colorado’s deserts. Our beloved Centennial State is renown for its rugged and natural beauty. We also have a climate that ranges from snowy mountain peaks, to valleys, plains, and even semi-deserts on our Western border. One product that is a result of this diverse and expansive climate is very unique wine. Talon Winery wines are all made from grapes grown and harvested right here in Western Colorado, and often use only ingredients (like honey and lavender) also found in Colorado. The next time you celebrate an occasion or unwind after a long day, be sure to try Colorado wine from Talon Winery.
Since 1995, the Foster family has spearheaded winemaking in Colorado, from studying the best soil and farming practices, to wine production methods. Bringing premier knowledge and experience from their home winery in Sonoma, California, the Fosters dreamed of harvesting – quite literally – the potential of Colorado’s wine country in the western portion of the State for wine making. It is a joy to bring the distinct taste of Colorado’s wine to people the world over.
New To Wine? Or Are You a Wine Enthusiast?
Are you new to trying wine? Or are you a wine enthusiast, looking to expand your wine palette? Then visit us at Talon Wine Brands, located in Palisade, Colorado, or shop with us, online. This hidden gem of a region is becoming more popular and more well known for its vineyards and wineries. At Talon we present three award-winning wine brands: Talon Winery, St. Katherine’s Cellars, and Meadery of the Rockies. Each presents a wide array of wines and flavors. No matter if you have yet to take a first splash of wine, or you already relish in sampling and collecting wines, give our wines a try. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff can make recommendations and answer questions you may have. If you love wine, then we also recommend joining our Colorado Wine Club! As a member of Colorado Wine Club, you’ll also enjoy access to discounts, latest releases, wine shipments, and will be able to choose wine from all three of our wineries. Additionally, if you live locally to us, wine club members receive invites to special events during wine pick-up.
Whether you're purchasing for yourself, for friends, or for an occasion, it's always a good time to enjoy a glass of Colorado wine or mead. If you love wine, experience a multitude of wines from Talon Wine Brands by sampling a bottle from each of our three brands. Enjoy the flavors of classic, fruit-based wine made from Colorado grapes, to mead, or honey-wine, and much more. Visit us in person, or shop with us online.
Experience unique wines and flavors, all from the comfort of your own home.
Wine with a View
Located in Colorado’s Western Slope, Talon Brand Wines is located at the eastern end of the beautiful Grand Valley. Rising above our vineyards are the Book Cliffs, the world’s longest continuous escarpment, running for 240 miles from Palisade, CO, and into Utah. Directly east is Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, reaching an altitude of over 11,000 feet. The region is Colorado’s canyon country. With stunning red rock canyons, desert cliffs, and mesas, the Western Slope is a hidden gem to those outside the state, and even to some Colorado natives.This unique landscape is home to plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities: hiking, fishing, mountain biking and more. What makes this region even more unique is its wine: vineyards are grown here, producing wine grapes. These stunning vistas create the framework of Palisade's wine valley, and are the perfect backdrop for savoring wine. We all also know a glass of wine is especially rewarding after a long hike.
Colorado’s vineyards are some of the highest-elevation vineyards in the US. Colorado is known as the “Mile High” State, after all. Our vineyards are located at an elevation of 4,700 ft, nearly a mile above sea level. As surprising as it is, Palisade, Colorado’s wine country is located in the State’s high desert. It's an area with 300+ days of sunshine per year, and low humidity. As much as it may not be what you expected for ideal wine-making real estate, these are prime conditions for growing and harvesting grapes.
Our wine has a taste that is distinctly Colorado. The state’s extreme aridity helps greatly decrease pests and disease, nearly negating the need for pesticides and other chemicals. For white wine lovers, be sure to try our Chardonnay: the variety of Chardonnay grapes flourish here as a result of Colorado’s arid climate and higher elevation. For those who love red wine, Merlot variety of grapes grow well here, so to be sure to try a glass.
Modern Craft Winery
Modern craft denotes the practice of creating a liquor and making it your own, via merging traditional winemaking techniques with modern technology. Since 1999, Talon Wine Brands has created quality and unique wines that bear a unique Colorado flavor. The state’s sunny and dry climate is perfect for growing and harvesting grapes for our wines. In addition to producing traditional fruit-based wines, we also produce mead, or “honey wine.” A highly popular beverage in centuries past, mead is now experiencing a resurgence, and can be enjoyed at Meadery of the Rockies. For a wine you’ve likely never thought of, experience the medium-sweet taste of lavender wine at St. Kathryn’s Cellars. And don’t forget to try our peach wine, made from Palisade’s much beloved peaches.
Compared to centuries old wine making within Europe and the Mediterranean, Colorado winemaking is relatively new. However, Talon Wine Brands has and continues to forge winemaking and tasting in Colorado. The Foster family brings decades of prestige and knowledge from Sonoma, CA wineries, but while creating wines, experiences and a brand that is distinctly Colorado.
One of the world’s oldest and most beloved beverages, wine is often praised for its health benefits, not to mention its variety of tastes. Red wine, a favorite among many, is so beloved that folks travel the world to visit vineyards and wineries to find the best wine, and to participate in grape stomping. From harvesting, to wine benefits, to wine grapes and more, it’s time to learn all about wine.
History of Wine
Archaeological evidence suggests winemaking may have started as long ago as 8000 BC, in what is now known as present day Georgia, Iran, and Armenia. Ancient cultures such as ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Assyria also produced wine, while ancient Rome and Greece so highly prized wine that they helped promote viticulture throughout the Mediterranean and Western Europe. During the Medieval age, wine production grew in Europe, and stayed strong until the 1870s, when disease ravaged most vines. Only the strongest vines survived, and winemaking resurged successfully in France and Italy.
Wines we enjoy today in the Americas are produced from grapes originally from Europe, first brought over by European explorers. These grapes have since mutated genetically (which occurs quickly in grapevines), which means today’s grapes are not identical to the varieties first brought over. Winemaking in the US took a hit during the Prohibition Era but recovered afterward. An interesting fact is that the majority of US wine comes from vineyards planted post Prohibition, making these vineyards nearly 90 years old.
How To Make Wine
Compared to other alcoholic beverages, wine making tends to be a simpler process. How so? Unlike beer, grapes naturally ferment, whereas hops require boiling. Wine requires grapes, and the type of grapes determines the type of wine. Ideally, grapes should be harvested by hand as machinery can be too tough on the fruit. Vintners then sort the grapes by hand to toss out rotten or underripe fruit. Next comes the fun part: crushing. Traditionally performed by foot stomping on the grapes (“pigéage” in French), modern vintners often use mechanical presses to save time, and for sanitary reasons. But don’t fret: there are still places that foot stomp grapes. Boiled down, the general process of how to make wine is harvesting, crushing, fermentation, clarification, aging, and bottling.
Fermentation is basically the process of converting sugars into alcohol. To make red wine, grapes are left with their skins, and depending on the type of wine a vintner wants to produce, will age the wine for several months to several years. Oak or steel barrels are used, depending on a vintner’s preference or which wine they want to achieve. Once a winemaker feels the wine is ready, the wine is then bottled and ready for consumption.
Benefits of Red Wine
When consumed in moderation, there are several health benefits to red wine. Wine grapes contain polyphenolic flavonoids, which are better known as antioxidants. These are molecules that neutralize free radicals, or compounds that can lead to physical harm, damage, disease, and even cancer. Red wine in particular contains more antioxidants than white wine as more grape skins are included in the fermentation process. The most active antioxidants in red wine are quercetins, catechins, and resveratrol, the last known primarily for lowering blood pressure and blood glucose levels. In addition, studies have also shown that resveratrol can help with improved mental health by decreasing the risk for anxiety and depression. Lastly, the antioxidant polyphenol is believed to improve heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of clotting.
How Much is Red Wine is Healthy?
Any alcoholic beverage should be consumed in moderation, and red wine is no exception. While wine does have some health benefits, these benefits can be easily undone by consuming too much wine. So how much red wine is healthy? The answer depends on an individual’s gender, age, health, and alcohol content of the drink being consumed. Studies from reputable sources, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services and PubMed Central, suggest 1 glass a day for women and 2 glasses a day for men, as the optimal amount to enjoy wine’s health benefits. However, it is important to note the actual amount of alcohol contained in a beverage, referred to as alcohol by volume, or ABV. Wine usually contains 12% ABV per 5 oz. glass; to compare, beer’s ABV is about 5% in a 12 fl. oz. glass. Since wine is served in smaller glasses than beer, folks can easily overconsume the beverage, so sticking to the guidelines above is good advice.
Why is Wine So Popular?
While beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the US, wine certainly has its own popularity. Part of wine’s allure is its distinct aesthetic which stems from the winemaking process and wineries, of picturesque vineyards and grape stomping. Wine is also perceived as a classy drink of the sophisticated, and wine indeed looks appealing swirling in a wine glass. Plus, wine is a great way to bring people together, whether its friends touring a winery together or co-workers enjoying a glass a merlot after work.
Grapes Used in Wine
What grapes are used in wine? Table grapes, the grapes you can purchase at the grocery store, are not used in winemaking. The reason is table grapes are a different species from wine grapes, which are specifically for wine making. While table grapes are delicious for eating, they make for poor wine as they have a thin skin. As the fermentation process for winemaking is dependent on grape skins, wine grapes are ideal as they have a thicker skin, while also imparting more tannins and a richer color. The most common wine grapes in the US are merlot, chardonnay, zinfandel, and pinot noir, to name a few: however, there are over a thousand types of grapes used in winemaking all over the world.
Why is Wine Poured Less Than Half Into a Glass?
If you’re not a wine connoisseur, you may wonder why wine is only filled to a third or to half of a wine glass. The reason for low fill is to allow tasters to swirl the wine to release the wine’s aromas, which then gather in the open space above the liquid; enjoying the aroma as well as the taste is all a part and tradition of the wine experience.
Honey: the thick, golden liquid produced by bees has been prized throughout the centuries and the world over. Known for its distinct sweetness, honey continues to be a staple in cooking and also in home treatments for sore throat and skin complaints. But what exactly is honey? Why and how do bees produce honey? What is the history behind honey? In this post, find out all about honey.
What is Honey?
Honey is a thick, golden liquid produced by bees, a result of insects extracting sugary secretions (nectar) from flowering plants.
Why Do Bees Make Honey?
We all know honey originates from bees, but why do they make it in the first place? Bees make honey to feed the whole hive – it is an excellent food source full of nutrients that can be stored and consumed during the winter months, when there is less for bees to forage on. As honey is high is sugars, it is an effective energy source as well, keeping bees going in the multiple tasks in and around the hive. Luckily for humans and other animals, bees make more honey than they actually need: an average hive can produce a surplus of around 65 pounds of honey per year.
How Do Bees Make Honey?
Bees make honey by extracting nectar, a sugary liquid, from flowers. Using their long, tube like tongues, nectar is drawn out and then stored in a bee’s “crop,” or extra stomach. Once the bees return to the hive, the nectar is then repeatedly passed from one bee’s mouth to another, each chewing the liquid. The partially digested nectar is then stored into honeycombs. At this stage, the nectar is still very water like in consistency, unlike the final product of honey, which is thick and viscous. To draw out all that extra water via evaporation, bees then furiously fan the nectar-containing honeycombs with their wings. Once this evaporation process is complete, worker bees then seal off the honeycombs with a substance from their bellies which hardens and eventually becomes beeswax. The now sticky and thick honey is protected from air and water, and lasts nearly indefinitely.
How is Honey Collected?
Human-kept hives have frames, where bees store their honey in honeycombs. Before honey extraction, bees are gently set aside using a bee brush; the use of smoke is quite effective in placating bees and making them easier to manage. The honey frames are then removed, and the beeswax scraped off. There are several methods to do this, either by removing the honey individually – honeycomb by honeycomb – or by scraping the combs all at once. Regardless of the exact method, a knife or fork is used to scrape the beeswax from both sides of the frame, exposing the honey. Then the frame is placed in a honey extractor, a type of metal container, which is then spun to remove the honey, where it collects to the bottom. The honey is then filtered through several layers of cheesecloth, and viola: now you have honey ready for human consumption.
Does Honey Expire?
Technically no, honey does not expire. So long as the liquid is stored in an airtight jar and kept away from excess moisture, honey remains safe to eat for decades (or longer). In fact, ancient Egyptian archaeological sites have yielded jars of honey dating thousands of years old…and the honey was still perfectly preserved. The reason for honey’s infinite shelf life lies in its biological makeup: with a high sugar content and low water content, honey is also antibacterial and has a low pH.
However, just because honey can last forever if stored correctly, doesn’t mean the liquid won’t undergo some changes. Honey can change colors and texture, going from clear to smoky, from smooth to granular. These changes are completely harmless unless the honey has been contaminated by bacteria, and/ or exposed to moisture. How to tell if honey has gone bad? A sour, instead of a sweet taste, is the classic sign.
Types of Honey
It may be easy to assume there’s only one type of honey, being that it is a golden liquid made by bees, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are over 300 types of honey in the US alone! This all comes down to what flowers bees take their nectar from, which affects the flavor and color of honey produced. For example, buckwheat nectar has a malty, molasses like taste and is nearly black in color, while the extremely popular clover honey is very light in color and has a sweet, mild taste.
What is Raw Honey vs. Regular Honey?
At the grocery store you’ll see honey bottles marked “raw honey,” but what does this mean? Raw honey can be best described as honey as it is in the hive. The honey is strained through cheesecloth to remove impurities, but otherwise is completely unprocessed. Regular honey, on the other hand, is processed via pasteurization, which kills yeast in honey, resulting in extended shelf life, and also undergoes filtration, to improve the clarity of the liquid. Between the two types, raw honey by far has the most health benefits: it has up to 22 nutrients, and various minerals, enzymes, and vitamins. The same cannot be said of regular honey, as since it is processed, many of these elements are removed, while hidden sweeteners – such as high fructose corn syrup – are added.
Uses and Health Benefits of Honey
Besides its use as a salve for sore throat during colds, honey is also effective at treating burns, wounds, ulcers, herpes, psoriasis, etc. as it enhances healing. A study has also shown honey as being effective in stopping the growth of cancer cells, due to the antioxidants within the liquid. Honey is also a great sugar alternative as it is low glycemic, meaning it won’t spike blood sugar, unlike regular sugar.
History of Honey
Bees have produced honey for millions of years. Regarding beekeeping, or apiculture, sources and opinions vary as to when humans first started gathering honey by “keeping” bees. Ancient Egyptians began beekeeping around 2500 BC, though other sources indicate the practice started even earlier in China. And long before any actual beekeeping was practiced, humans gathered, or foraged, wild honey. In Spain’s Cueva de la Araña (Cave of the Spider), a cave painting dating from 9000 BC depicts a figure bravely climbing towards a hive, basket in hand, while bees buzz around. Though methods for collecting honey have evolved since then, one thing remains certain: honey’s popularity as an all-natural sweetener and an effective health salve.
What Makes Wine Healthy
You hear time and again that wine, particularly red wine, is healthy for you when consumed in moderation. But what makes wine healthy, exactly? Is it the fact that it is made from fruit, rather than grains? And what are the health benefits of drinking wine? In this article we’ll uncover just what makes this beverage a healthier choice when it comes to alcoholic drinks. But before we begin, it’s important that we answer this key question: how much wine is good for you?
Just as a quick side note - obviously, the best way to stay healthy is to workout and have great nutrition. That being said, wine does have health benefits, and if nothing else, it's healthy for the soul!
How Much Wine Should You Drink?
As with any alcoholic beverage, one should enjoy wine in a moderate manner. But what constitutes as “moderate consumption?” The answer will vary, as factors such as gender, age, overall health, and alcohol content of the beverage, etc., can determine what is healthy, not harmful, alcohol consumption. A study by respected database PubMed Central found that the optimal daily consumption to enjoy the health benefits of wine is 1 glass per day for women, and 2 glasses per day for men; in their dietary outlines, the US Department of Health and Human Services also backs these same stats.
Just as important however, is knowing how much alcohol a beverage contains, known as alcohol by volume (ABV). Wine is typically 12% ABV per 5 fl. oz glass, whereas as beer is usually 5% ABV in a standard 12 fl. oz beer glass; these figures vary from drink to drink. Given that wine is usually consumed from smaller glasses than those for beer, too often folks can end drinking more servings than is healthy. It’s best to stick to the recommendations stated above, and to enjoy your wine slowly: be sure to savor it. Now that you know how much wine to drink for your health, let’s look at what makes wine healthy.
What is In Red Wine that is Good for You?
As wine is made is from grapes, the beverage contains a key ingredient: antioxidants. Antioxidants, which are commonly found in fruits, are molecules that fight off free radicals---compounds that can cause physical harm and damage, leading to disease or cancer. Dark skinned grapes contain higher amounts of antioxidants than lighter varieties, which makes red wine usually more healthy than white wine. For example, the skin of dark grapes contains high amounts of resveratrol, an antioxidant known for its health benefits.
Since wine is made from fruit, the beverage is also inherently healthier in what it doesn’t contain, which is high amounts of carbs. Beer, which is made from grains, hops, barley and yeast, contains anywhere from 10 to 20+ grams of carbs in a 12 oz glass. Compare that to wine, which averages at only 2 grams of carbs in a standard sized wine glass.
What Are The Physical Benefits of Drinking Red Wine?
Regarding the physical benefits of drinking red wine, several studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stemming from the antioxidants found in wine. The connection between how antioxidants help with heart health isn’t exactly clear, but it is believed that the antioxidant polyphenol, found in wine, is beneficial to blood vessel linings within your heart, by reducing inflammation and the likelihood of clotting.
The consumption of red wine is also linked to increased levels of HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, while lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. This is believed to stem from resveratrol, which is also shown to help reduce blood pressure. As for impact on blood sugar levels, studies strongly suggest that resveratrol can also decrease high glucose levels in diabetics.
The Benefits of Red Wine on Mental Health
While red wine is known for being heart healthy, less well known is the connection between red wine and improved mental health. Studies suggest that moderate red wine consumption can help decrease the risk of depression and anxiety. This stems from resveratrol, which blocks and controls an enzyme responsible for stress reactions in the brain. Scientists are so intrigued by this connection that resveratrol is being considered as a new alternative to drugs prescribed to those suffering from mental health disorders. That being said, too much wine or any alcohol can cause serious detrimental effects on mental health, undoing any health benefits to be had.
Wine’s Distinct Aesthetic
Wine’s appeal extends well beyond its health benefits. The beverage undeniably possesses its own unique aesthetic: that of being a distinguished drink. No matter your background or beverage of choice, wine is perceived as being classy. This distinction stems in part from wine being enjoyed by royalty and the nobility for many centuries. It also stems from visual appeal, of dark red liquid in a wine glass: have a wine glass in hand, and suddenly you feel quite sophisticated.
Wine’s unique aesthetic also comes from how it is made. There is something so visually appealing about vineyards: it makes sense that “wine country,” no matter where on the globe, has its own appeal. And of course, there’s the fun of “pigéage;” that’s the French term that refers to grape stomping, the traditional method of crushing grapes with your feet.
Wine is Good For the Soul
Aside from the health benefits of wine, drinking wine is a great social and mental outlet: wine is good for the soul! The consumption of wine stretches back thousands of years, and the beverage has quite a storied history: the Bible contains plenty of references to wine, many of them praising the drink as a blessing. “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments,” a verse from 1 Timothy claims: it seems that those living thousands of years ago were in the know about wine’s health benefits.
Fast forwarding two millennia later, and you have songs such as “Red, Red Wine,” and fun shirts proclaiming, “On Cloud Wine” and “Wine Not.” From wine tastings to vineyard tours, wine has a culture all its own. No matter if you’re a wine connoisseur or have yet to try the drink, you now know how wine can improve your physical and mental wellbeing when enjoyed responsibly.
Lavender is a household plant, used in hundreds of household and daily items. It’s used in lotions, bath salts, cleaning compounds, pressed into essential oils, and generally sought after for its soothing smell and feel. Aside from being a nice smelling, purple flowered plant, though, what exactly is lavender? How does you grow and harvest it? Read on to find out more about this versatile and universally beloved plant.
What is Lavender?
Lavender is actually (and probably surprisingly) an herb within the mint family. Hence, its distinctive scent. Lavender is believed to be native to Europe, the Mediterranean (where it most commonly grows today), and the Middle East, and has been used by humans for thousands of years for its purported medicinal and therapeutic benefits. The English name lavender originates from the French lavandre – which itself stems from the Latin lavare – which means to wash. This may refer to how aromatic herbs such as lavender were used in washing clothes in ancient times.
How to Grow Lavender
The plant grows as a perennial when exposed to constant, full sunshine. Well drained, slightly alkaline soil best suits lavender. If you decide to grow lavender, you can grow it from the seeds. But, note that germination takes several months. A faster way to grow the herb is to use lavender cuttings (lavender stems can regrow roots, like many leaf-bearing plants).
Regardless of whether you grow lavender from seeds, cuttings, or from repotting a new lavender plant purchased from the store, be sure to find a sunny spot, and water the plant consistently until it is nicely settled in the soil. Lavender may require watering once a week or more until the roots mature. After that, you can space out watering to every two or three weeks. Once the purple buds form, however, you can resume your more frequent weekly or twice-weekly watering until harvest.
How to Plant Lavender
Lavender is best potted or placed when the plant is young, and in the springtime. For roots to grow deep, at least slightly warm dirt is needed. Avoid planting in overly rich soil, as lavender best thrives in drier, rockier soil. Wet soil or marshy areas can spell disaster for lavender, as root rot can occur. However, as mentioned above, be sure to water two to three times a week post planting, until the plant is firmly rooted in the dirt.
How to Prune Lavender
Pruning, or removing dead stems and plant material, is crucial as it encourages new plant growth. Lavender is best pruned when flowering is over, which means pruning can occur anytime from late autumn to early spring. To prune, cut 1/3 down the plant’s stem. The older the plant, the more you can cut. But be sure not to cut all the way down to the wood.
How to Harvest Lavender
Keep in mind this handy advice when it comes to harvesting lavender: early spring, early bloom, early morning. Harvest in the early spring when the flowers are just starting to bloom, and in the morning, when the flowers are more open. If you harvest too late in the season, the blooms will not only be dry and faded, but their aroma will not be as strong. To harvest, all you need to do is snip the stems just above the leaves, a few inches below the flowers; pruning shears or plain scissors work. Tie the stems together and hang them upside down to prevent the flowers and leaves from flopping over.
How to Dry Lavender
Full sun is key to growing lavender. But when it comes to drying harvested lavender (in part to avoid mold or mildow), a sheltered, low-humidity area is best. Why? A shaded spot helps retain the color of the flowers. For virtually any purpose you have in mind for the lavender, whether using it for something or just keeping it to look at, the deep purple hue of well-preserved lavender is best.
Be sure not to tie the stems too tightly, and to separate large bunches of lavender into smaller bouquets; this allows air circulation among the blooms, and prevents mold. Drying time varies, depending on the climate where the plant is harvested, but normally takes a few weeks to a month. When lavender is completely dry, it will snap cleanly at the stem, rather than bend. You can also dry lavender upright in a vase with no water, but note that the lavender bunches will not dry as straight, as the tops will fall toward the side.
Lavender’s Many Uses
Lavender has been used for millennia to treat and soothe a variety of ailments, ranging from soreness, wounds, acne, insomnia, and anxiety. It can be used topically, or via aromatherapy. The scent of lavender often induces feelings of calm and focus, making lavender oil one of the most well-known essential oils. Studies have also shown that lavender also has anti-bacterial properties, and can be used in cleaning around the home. Lavender is even used in some of the world’s top wines.
Can You Cook with Lavender?
Whether fresh or dried, lavender can be safely used in cooking. Lavender tends to have a pleasant and slightly bitter taste, so use sparingly. Culinary lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is the best lavender type to use when cooking. It can be used in marinades, rubs or salads, and even baking to add an elegant, soft flair to any dish.
How is Lavender Essential Oil Made?
The increasingly popular essential oil is created using distillation. In a nutshell, flowering stems and tops are “steam stripped,” or put into a vessel where steam then passes through, vaporizing the essential oils. The steam, now carrying droplets of essential oil, is then piped out of the vessel and into water. Lavender oil is less dense than water, and therefore floats on top. The overall process of extracting lavender oil by distillation has remained the same over the centuries, though changes in equipment have made extraction more efficient.
Note: in most cases, lavender oil should not be consumed. However, it can be applied topically to the skin and scalp if you are not sensitive to the scent. You can also dilute lavender essential oil with water or other carrier oils to ease the scent and potency, as needed. If you haven’t purchased one yet, an essential oil diffuser is an especially great way to enjoy the soothing scent of lavender.
Mead is one of the most delicious, wonderful things you will ever experience. But what exactly is mead, you ask? Many are familiar with the word, and know that it is a type of alcoholic beverage, one that brings to mind the Medieval and Renaissance ages…but that’s about it. Read on to learn all about mead!
What is Mead?
Visitors to wineries often ask, “What is mead?” Mead is basically honey wine: water and honey are fermented together by yeast, and one can add spices, grains, hops, or fruit. The result is a beverage that is somewhere between wine and beer. Mead tends to be stronger than beer, usually having an ABV of 5-20%. One of the world’s oldest liquors, the consumption of mead dates back more than 4,000 years ago, and was common the world over: Asia, Europe, Africa and Central America all had variations of mead. It was a beverage enjoyed by all classes, from peasants, to merchants, to royalty. Interest in mead declined over the last few centuries, but is now finding popularity once again in the 21st century.
The Resurgence of Mead
It’s no secret that craft beers and breweries continue to enjoy enormous growth and popularity, but mead is enjoying a moment as well. Twenty years ago, mead was viewed as nothing more than a niche beverage, with just a few dozen meaderies in the US. Fast forward to the present, and there are now more than 500 US meaderies, and counting. From 2011 to 2014 alone, US mead sales exploded by 130%, according to the American Mead Maker’s Association. Such a statistic deserves a toast! And you know what to pour for this toast.
Types of Mead
There are several dozen types of meads, but generally speaking mead is divided into two categories: unflavored and flavored. Unflavored is mead at its most basic ingredients: honey, water, and yeast. And unflavored mead yields three distinct flavor types: sweet mead, dry mead, and semi-sweet or semi-dry mead.
Flavored mead is made with additional ingredients, and each type of ingredient added comes with a unique name. Melomel is made with fruits. Metheglin is made with herbs and spice. And braggot is mead mixed with beer. Just was with craft beers, one can get very creative when it comes to brewing mead.
What Does Mead Taste Like?
The most basic answer is that mead tastes somewhat like sherry, with a noticeable honey taste. But the truth is that all mead does not taste the same. In fact, there are many varied tastes of even unflavored mead. This stems from the fact that the type of honey used can greatly affect how mead will taste. This is turn is rooted in the environment, and diet of the honeybees being used to produce the honey. Traditionally, clover, acacia, and orange blossom honey types are used to make mead. But one can also use wildflower, buckberry and blackberry honeys to produce distinct tasting meads. And of course, additional ingredients such as spices, fruits, and hops can alter the mead to range from sweet, to sparkling, to dry.
How To Brew Mead
For anyone who wants to brew their own mead, it’s important to note that there’s not really a “right” taste to end with. Since each type of honey is different, and ingredients added vary, it’s more of an art form you create. But how to brew mead, you ask?
Techniques and tools vary from person to person and Meadery to Meadery, but here is the general process. You’ll need Grade A honey, purified water, and yeast, of course. All equipment used – a large pot for boiling, glass carboys (large bottles), and thermometer – will need to be thoroughly sanitized. Why? Even the tiniest bit of bacteria can completely ruin a batch of mead. To sanitize, you can scrub with hot, boiled water. Once everything is sanitized, water is boiled in a large pot. As the water reaches boiling point, honey is added, as are any other ingredients, such as spices or fruit.
Cool water is then added to the mixture, to create the right environment for yeast. It can’t be too hot or too cold; use a clean thermometer to ensure the mix is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeast is stirred in, then the liquid is placed in whatever is used to promote fermentation, oftentimes a carboy (a rigid, often large glass container), which is then sealed off. An airlock allows air to escape during fermentation, which usually takes about a month. Place the fermenting mead in a dark, cool spot, such as a closet, as it helps with fermentation. Once fermented, the liquid is bottled via a siphon, with a sanitized hydrometer used to check the ABV (alcohol by volume). And voila! Now you have mead.
How To Store Mead
Store mead just as you would store wine: bottles on the side, in a cool, dark area. A wine cellar is perfect, but a kitchen pantry or cupboard works as well. Avoid any areas that have direct sunlight or heat.
What is Mead’s Shelf Life?
When unopened, mead is renowned for its lengthy shelf life, ranging from several years to even decades. The general rule is the darker the mead, the longer the shelf life. In other words, the higher the alcohol content, the longer the liquor will last. For example, unopened classic mead can last for 5 years, while unopened lighter meads usually last 1-2 years. Once opened, however, mead’s shelf-life decreases, especially for lighter meads. It is usually recommended to consume lighter mead within 24 hours of opening. Do keep in mind that shelf life will vary from mead to mead, depending on its contents. Mead can be refrigerated, but avoid freezing it, as this will affect the flavor (and possibly the container in which it’s stored).
Is Mead Gluten Free?
Is Mead gluten free? It’s a great question, and the answer is that Mead is generally gluten free so long as only the basic ingredients (honey, water, and yeast) are used. However, certain additional ingredients may be not be gluten free, such as barley malt, which is used to make a specific mead called braggot. Check the label, or ask the meadery or brewery if the mead you want to try is gluten free. If you’re creating your own Mead, you’ll always know what you're getting!