Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 15th 2015 Contents |WINE|
LIKE IRELAND and the world over, wherever there is an Irish
diaspora, there will be celebration for St Paddy's Day. Here
in Trinidad will be no different, as we do have Irish residents
and, like we say in local parlance, some "pumpkin vine" Irish.
Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural
and religious celebration occurring annually on 17th March,
the death date of the most commonly-recognised patron
saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day
in the early 17th Century and is observed by the Catholic
Church and the Anglican community. The day commemo-
rates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as
well as celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in gen-
eral. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festi-
vals, céilithe (Gaelic music and dancing), and the wearing of
green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church serv-
ices, and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alco-
hol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and
propagated the holiday's tradition of alcohol consumption.
When St. Patty's Day rolls around, some local leprechauns
may be looking to shake up their green beer traditions with
a true Irish treasure --- enter mead. What exactly is mead? It
is a delicious wine that is made from fermented honey in lieu
of grapes, along with water and yeast, and has been enjoyed
by Celtic nations for centuries. Mead may be made in a range
of styles, from dry to off-dry to full-on sweet, with some pro-
ducers bringing fruit, herbs, and even spices into the mead-
making mix. Similar to wine, some meads are built to age a
bit, and can end up with a Port or Sherry-like character.
While many countries have a heritage with honey wine in-
terlaced throughout, Ireland in particular has had a long-
standing love affair with Mead. This famed drink, believed to
have been enjoyed by Irish monks during medieval times, gal-
loped through the social circles of everyone from Irish peas-
ants to Irish saints, and from noblemen to the High Kings of
Ireland. Mead has also enjoyed consistent time in the lime-
light of both Gaelic poetry and Irish folklore, and spans back
historically to the ancient Greeks, who referred to it as am-
brosia. While there are many variations of mead, traditional
mead consists of honey and water, and oftentimes a bit of
yeast. The fermented product, honey wine, offers flavour
variations somewhat reminiscent of a Riesling, ranging from
pretty sweet to quite dry. Mead or honey wine, while widely
available in the Old World, is becoming increasingly popular
in the New World. In the US there are states with meaderies.
I am yet to see a bottle of mead here in Trinidad; however, if
you have the opportunity to source any mead, the following
are my recommendations:
CHAUCER'S MEAD --- USA --- Chaucer's Mead spotlights
three unique honey profiles: orange blossom, sage and al-
falfa. This particular bottle of mead screams, "dessert," and
carries a decent dose of sugar in a full body style, with rich
textures and universal flavour appeal. Serve warm with
mulled wine spice or slightly chilled. Chaucer's partners well
with a variety of dessert treats or is happy to play the role
of dessert itself.
BUNRATTY MEAD --- Ireland --- Bunratty Mead is made in
the shadows of Bunratty Castle, built in the 15th Century,
and overlooking Ireland's famed River Shannon. Carefully
crafted from an old Irish recipe that includes honey, white
wine and herbs, this Mead is fairly sweet and suitable for a
variety of palates and occasions.
OLIVER CAMELOT MEAD --- Indiana US --- With a truly
charming label, the Oliver Camelot Mead is crafted in a
lighter-bodied style, with easy-going honey aromas and
sweeter flavours in full view, but refined by a bit of floral and
a hint of acidity. A super St. Patty's Day sipper!
ORANGE BLOSSOM --- Golden Coast Mead --- Combining
the best of Southern California's Orange Blossom honey with
spring water, the Golden Coast brings citrus themes on the
nose and a lighter body style, with 10.5% alcohol. Refreshing
and distinct, this particular mead is a versatile aperitif.
Sláinte ("to your health"): a common pub toast in Ireland
Ireland enjoys a long-standing history of pithy phrases, pow-
erful prayers, and wise or witty words from the lips and pens
of famous saints, writers, and pub crawlers. Here are a few
favourite Irish toasts, so that your tongue will be well
equipped to toast a special day or bless a sacred event.
• May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light; may
good luck pursue you each morning and night.
• May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends
gathered below never fall out.
• A trout in the pot is better than a salmon in the sea.
• A friend's eye is a good mirror.
• May you live as long as you want, and never want as long
as you live.
• He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend,
loses more; He who loses faith, loses all.
• May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist
March 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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