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Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for April 27, 2000


The Global Gourmet Theater

To Bee or Not To Bee
The Drama of Mead (Fermented Honey)

Libations by
Bargetto Winery
Lyrics by
Fred McMillin

(in order of appearance)


    220 million B.C. (give or take an eon or two) -
    The BEE (and the dinosaur) appear.

    120 Million B.C.—
    FLOWERS appear. Bees + flowers = HONEY.

    10000 B.C. (margin of error = plus or minus 100%)—Man has not yet learned to make wine or beer. However, he has learned that if something like four parts of water are added to one part of honey, it can produce man's first fermented beverage.

    900 B.C.—The Ethiopian QUEEN OF SHEBA starts the first desert U.P.S., using a new means of commecial transportation, the camel. Her favorite beverage is MEAD! (I talked with a rep of the Ethiopian Wine Co. a few years ago and he said their national drink still is MEAD.)

    400 B.C.—PLATO reports that the ancient Greeks drank MEAD before they learned to make wine.

    1253 A.D.—Mogul Prince MANGU KHAN has a gold fountain with four spouts. They dispense rice wine, fermented mare's milk, grape wine, and MEAD!

    1340 A.D.—The first writer to praise mead extensively in English literature is born to a London wine merchant. The infant is named GEOFFREY CHAUCER, pictured. His Canterbury Tales include passages such as, "Her mouth was sweet as Mead."

    c.1960 A.D.—LAWRENCE BARGETTO in the Santa Cruz Mountains using local honey produces the winery's first MEAD. It's time for Intermission, and a sip of...


Our Wine of the Day

Chaucer's Mead

    Composition - Made from pure honey with no artificial flavorings. Both sugar and alcohol are in the 10% range.
    Busy Bees - I didn't count them but I'm told that bees must visit about 30,000 flowers to produce enough honey for one bottle of mead.
    Service—a) Give it 30 minutes in the frig and then serve as an aperitif and great conversation piece, b) for dessert, pour over vanilla ice cream on canned pears.
    Some Like It Hot—The bottle comes with a baglet of spices so you can make hot, spiced Mead. Long ago the Russians loved "Metheglin," MEAD with the addition of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and mace.
    John Bargetto—A while back John stopped by and ploughed through my library discovering many MEAD tidbits. We've discussed doing something more comprehensive on the subject. Stay tuned.
    Contact—Office of Martin Bargetto, (800)4-BARGETTO,, FAX (831) 475-2664.
    Price—Under $10
    Another Way to Taste It—This will be the first of 60 wines tasted in my History of Wine course at San Francisco State University next month.



"Mead was part of the marriage ceremony for centuries. In fact the term 'honeymoon' is said to have originated from the tradition whereby newlyweds enjoyed mead for a whole month (one cycle of the moon) after their wedding day, thus, honeymoon."

...John Bargetto, Minister of Mead

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created April 2000