- Honey wine, also known as mead, is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man. Made primarily from honey, water, and yeast, this beverage has recently been experiencing a resurgence in popularity. It is imperative that commercial producers focus on consistently creating quality products to differentiate themselves from competitors in the growing market. This study focused on the effect of three fermentation temperatures (12:8 ◦C, 18:3 ◦C and 23:9 ◦C) and four different nutrient addition schedules (no added nutrients; at 24 h, 48 h and 72 h after pitch; 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 through fermentation; and a combination of both) on mead quality and fermentation parameters. Quantitative analysis of aroma compounds in the finished meads were determined using headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GCMS). Sensory differences in the meads were determined using a trained panel evaluating the intensity of five aroma and five taste attributes.
Significant differences were found for treatments receiving nutrients versus those receiving no nutrients. Additional fermentation rates were higher with those treatments that received nutrients and those fermented at warmer temperatures. Significant differences between treatments were found for pH, residual sugar, and yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN), but no significant differences were found between the treatments that all received nutrients.
According to sensory analysis, only the treatment which received no nutrients and was fermented at the lowest temperature was significantly different from the other treatments, although certain trends were found based on fermentation temperature and nutrient addition schedule. Treatments at 12:8 ◦C were characterized by “warm” and “fruity” attributes, while treatments at 18:3 ◦C were characterized by the “floral”, “lemon”, and “sour” attributes and treatments at 23:9 ◦C were characterized by the “sweet” and “fresh” attributes. Treatments without nutrients were characterized by the “warm”, “fruity”, and “fresh” attributes while treatments receiving nutrients were characterized by the “lemon”, “floral”, and “honey aroma” attributes.
Twenty-two aroma compounds were quantified. Ten compounds of these measured were significantly impacted by temperature, schedule, or an interaction between temperature and schedule. Six compounds were detected at levels exceeding their aroma thresholds: ethyl butyrate, ethyl hexanoate, ethyl octanoate, ethyl decanoate, linalool, and 3-methyl-1-pentanol. Differences for the meads were found for aroma analysis. Treatments exhibited significant separation based on fermentation temperature and nutrient schedule. In particular, the coolest fermentation temperature resulted in meads with greater amounts of esters. However, despite the fact that significant differences in aroma composition were found, these do not result in any large sensory differences, particularly for those ferments with nutrient additions.
These results show that mead makers can use nutrient schedules and fermentation temperature to not only significantly reduce time-to-market but also potentially achieve sensory goals. Additional work is required to determine whether nutrient blends tailored to particular implementations can be applied using commonly-accepted nutrient schedules.