Mead Lover's Digest #979 Fri 20 December 2002


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



RE: Which "montrachet"? ("Ken Taborek")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #976, 10 December 2002 (Dan Lance)
RE: Corques vs Corks ("Shaggyman")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #978, 16 December 2002 (David Chubb)
Sorbate/stabilizing ("Kemp, Alson")
montrachet yeast ("chad. . . .")
Acid question ("Kristinn Eysteinsson")
Which Montrachet ("phil")
RE: Montrachet ("Ken Taborek")


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Subject: RE: Which "montrachet"?
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 02:26:02 -0500

> Subject:  Which "montrachet"?
> From: (Dick Dunn)
> Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:34:18 -0700 (MST)


> Aside from differing expectations and differing amounts of patience with
> aging a mead, the discussion of Montrachet so far omits an
> important point:
> WHOSE "montrachet" are you using? Yeast mutate over time and reculturing,
> so after a while montrachet will be different from one vendor to another.
> Maybe the folks who have had good or bad luck could chime in again with
> the particular vendor of the yeast they were talking about?

Fair enough. The montrachet I've used have all been Red Star Montrachet dry
wine yeast. It's sold in most wine and brewing retail shops for less than
$1/packet, and I've never experienced a "Listerine" flavor with this wine
yeast. For all my meads, I make a 1 qt starter using a boiled honey/water
mixture at about 1.050-1.080 depending on the recipe, with a pinch (perhaps
as much as 1/4 teaspoon) of yeast nutrient (DAP).



Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #976, 10 December 2002
From: Dan Lance <>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 06:56:13 -0600

On Tuesday 10 December 2002 01:57, Dan McFeeley wrote:
> Meads I've made
> without using heat have lasted quite well, over two years now and
> no sign of deterioration. I'm still of the opinion that honey, due to
> its antiseptic properties and high osmotic pressure, helps with this
> although it is certainly not a sterile medium. Hopefully I've said this
> in a less reckless way this time around.

I found Dan's comments to be quite appropriate and not at all reckless.
Dan didn't claim that honey is sterile, just that its hyperosmolar nature
prevents most organisms from growing in it. This is quite true.

I just kegged and bottled two batches of three-year-old mead made without
using heat. ( I used the winemaking procedure of sulfiting the must, and have
been obsessive about sanitation procedures. I used Wyeast champagne yeast,
after disappointing results with Wyeast sweet mead yeast.) The meads have
survived two household moves and multiple rackings and have turned out quite
well. Although I have noted some of the "rocket fuel" effect that others
have described with Champagne yeasts, blending has diminished this. Two
other batches are still aging in glass, awaiting blending and bottling, and
are in similarly good shape.

With regard to infant botulism and Clostridium botulinum spores, remember that
the disease is essentially never seen in children above the age of one year,
with 95% of cases occuring under 6 months of age. (The spores are digested
in the GI tract in older chldren and adults.) Since no one in their right
mind would give mead to their infant child, it should not be of any practical
concern to meadmakers. In any case, the incidence of the disease is very low
and most honey is not contaminated with C. botulinum spores.

  • –Dan

Dan Lance, MD,

Subject: RE: Corques vs Corks
From: "Shaggyman" <>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 07:39:57 -0600

My soapbox time….

Natural cork is made from the inner bark of a tree, and is rapidly
becoming a scarce commodity, given the time it takes to grow a cork tree
and the limited amount of useful material from each tree. I have
noticed a marked deterioration in quality and a marked increase in price
of premium corks in the last fifteen years, and have completely
discontinued using natural cork stoppers.
The plastic corks (corques) are made from recycled plastics, uniform in
size and quality, less expensive, and have superior sealing
Since they are not porous, bottles can be cellared upright, without fear
of drying out and subsequent oxidation /contamination.
(This makes it more convenient to decant, with sediments at the bottom
of the bottle instead of hanging on the side.)
Lack of absorbency also makes them a breeze to sterilize in sulphite
solution, and they never impart any taste or harbor any nasties in an
unseen cavity. And a real plus: the whole corque comes out every time
with a corkscrew, and never leaves any 'floaties' behind. They come in a
variety of sizes and colors, with customization available. And when
you're done with them, they can be recycled again.
The only downside I have found is that the considerable density of the
plastic requires a bench or floor corker to compress- the hand models
just won't work reliably on corques.

I have been using them for ten years now, with no losses due to cork
failure- my '92 Garnet (Burgundy Pyment) is currently the best thing I
have ever tasted, with no hint of oxidation or 'corkiness'.

Lane O. Locke
Master of his own cellar and slave to it.

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by

stupidity." –Hanlon's Razor


Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #978, 16 December 2002
From: David Chubb <>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 10:23:14 -0500

>> From: "Maurice St. aude" <>
>> Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 13:58:13 -0500

>> So what choice do I make? Do I stick to natural cork with a failure
>> rate of aprrox. 5% per batch, or do I take my chances with one of the
>> modern corks or cork alternatives? Any help or thought on this matter
>> would be appreciated.


>I've had problems with the outside end of the corks getting mouldy in my
>damp cellar (I don't think it's affected the contents yet, but it might)
>I find preparing and inserting corks a nuisance. So I've switched to beer
>bottles and crown caps for everything — beer, mead and even wine. They're
>easy to seal (get a good double-lever capper), I don't have to worry about
>cork problems and I have a variety of sizes (from 250 to 650 ml).


>As for the aesthetics of wine and still mead, I serve it from a carafe (a
>good idea anyway, since I usually have some sediment).
> — Adam

I prefer the new "Poly-Corks". The kinda that are made from recycled plastic
bags. They are very nice to use, easy to sterilise and you generally don't
have to soak them in water to get the pliable enough to go into the bottle
(unlike natural corks). I have switched over to using them entirely
especially since they are also cheaper than the natural corks at our local
brewers supply store.

Check with your local brewers supply store and ask them to get poly-corks if
they don't already have them.


  • –David Chubb


Subject: Sorbate/stabilizing
From: "Kemp, Alson" <>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 10:34:42 -0800

From: "Randy Goldberg MD" <>

>Do you add potassium sorbate to stabilize and
>resweeten when you rack into secondary, or
>just before bottling?

I don't really use sorbates to often, but I would add
them at racking. That way you can wait a month or two and make
sure that you've actually stabilized the wine. I'm not sure if
sorbates instantly prevent yeast from fermenting (I'm not really
sure how sorbates work), so you might get a bit more fermentation
with the sorbates preventing fermentation thereafter.


Subject: montrachet yeast
From: "chad. . . ." <>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 10:52:34 -0800 (PST)

Have noticed that when using montrachet yeast, if
there is anything in the must at all beyond honey and
water, I end up with a sulfide problem. Champange
yeast has never done this. I realize that over time
sulfide will mellow a bit but why should I bottle an
inferior product? Age will make a good wine great but
trying to age a bad wine will only give you old bad
I concur completely with the post about being able to
drink it on bottling day. If its not good now, it wont
be good later.

Subject: Acid question
From: "Kristinn Eysteinsson" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 17:40:42 -0000 (GMT)

My first batch of mead has been bulk aging for a while now. I tasted it
yesterday and it seemd a bit acid. I got out my trusty PH strips (can't
aford anything more than that) and saw that it had a PH of between 3.0 and
3.5 while comercial wine that I've tested is between 3.5 and 4.0. I would
rather not add chemicals if I can help it. Is there something else I can
do that will reduce the acidity?

Kristinn Eysteinsson

Subject: Which Montrachet
From: "phil" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 12:24:51 -0800

Hi all,

In MLD 978n Dick Dunn asked users of montrachet yeast to include the
yeast brand, fermentation temperature and time before bottling in our
discussion of montrachet yeast's good and bad attributes. Great
suggestion Dick. I am especially heartened at the idea that if it takes
a year for mead to taste good, I am doing something wrong. Party!

I used Red Star Montrachet. I started my cyser in May, my peach melomel
on July 21, and my plumb melomel on Aug. 28. I did not take their
temperature until this morning. They are all next to each other and the
plumb melomel's was 69 F. I couldn't guess whether it got over 75 F. in
the Sunny Southern California Summer. The Listerine factor is still


Subject: RE: Montrachet
From: "Ken Taborek" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 17:49:28 -0500

> From: phil

> Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2002 2:53 PM

> Subject: Montrachet


> >

> Hi all,


> Dick Dunn has suggested the next level to take our conversation about
> yeast. He suggested in MLD978 that we all include the brand, fermenting
> Temperature and time till bottling and see if these variables explain our
> differing results and opinions. I hope you all stay in this conversation.


> Phil


I'm game. I've included other information that might bear.

I've used Red Star Montrachet dry yeast in many meads.
Fermenting temperatures have ranged, where recorded, between 60-78f.
Time to bottling has ranged from 9-13 months.
In all save one I've pitched a starter of at least 1 liter volume (typical)
to two liters.
In all I've aerated the must about three times per day at for at least one
day, and up to three days.
In all I've used a DAP yeast nutrient.
In most I've included an amount of raisins, up to a few cups.
Most have had a ABV of ~12%.

Under these conditions I've never noticed a Listerine taste, at any point,
in any of my meads.



End of Mead Lover's Digest #979