Oh… people have heard of it, or have some impression of it, or think they learned about it in Game of Thrones, but they’ve never actually consumed Mead.
We are being told, essentially, that we are being presented a unique opportunity: We are in charge of somebody’s first impression of mead.
This is a terrifying and awesome burden. What an opportunity! What a risk!
The first question is, of course: what do you pick? Do you go for the light and quaffable hydromel? Something big and bold like a winter warmer? Do you ask them what they normally drink, or do you just grab your personal favorite?
The second question is: what do you tell them about it? How much information should you burden them with? Some people hold that the mead should speak for itself; others that without a vocabulary you can’t know what you’re consuming. (Don’t forget, there’s a reason a lot of small wineries have tasting notes on a cheat sheet for the tyro: It increases sales and customer satisfaction.)
If you have the stock, perhaps the best way to introduce the novice meadiac to this heavenly nectar is with five or six different varieties in rapid succession. This prevents the rookie error of believing that:
“Mead = __________”
While nothing is more exciting than the absolute neophyte, perhaps nothing is worse than the person who has “tried mead once, and it was way too sweet” or, slightly less common, “it was way too alcoholic.”
As meadmakers, we feel that it is our sworn duty to introduce our guests to the idea of mead, rather than to any one particular mead we produce. We have no right to say that one style, technique, or variety is better than any other, even if it’s our style, technique, or variety. We do our fellow meadmakers, our customers, and ourselves a disservice if we function as anything but the gateway to the world of mead.
So, be knowledgeable, be helpful, and be kind. But most importantly, go out there and get some converts for the cause! The world needs more Meadiacs.