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Balance (especially between Acidity & Tannin)

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Senior Member
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Dec 3, 2003
Brisbane Australia
Has anyone found the following details on "balance in wine" to hold true for Mead??

(Obviously this only applies to where the mead is unbalanced, or you add tannin to mead or the mead has some tannin)

Summary from French enologist Emile Peynaud, in his book "The Taste of Wine"

* a wine tolerates acidity better when its alcohol content is higher
* a considerable amount of tannin is more acceptable if acidity is low and alcohol is high


* the less tannic a wine is, the more acidity it can support
* the higher a red wine is in tannins, the lower should be its acidity
* the combination of high acid and high tannins make for the hardest and most astringent wines

(from http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/fst/faculty/acree/fs430/lectures/pb04balance.html)
This implies:
  • avoiding adding tannin to acidic mead.
  • Overly tannic mead could be "improved" by increasing alcohol content or adding glycerin for mouthfeel, or blending to reduce acidity, or ...
  • Acidic mead could be "improved" by some combination of sweetening, carbonating, or increasing the alcohol content (and blending to reduce acidity) - but DON'T add tannin


Senior Member
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Re: Balance (especially between Acidity & Tann

That's a good question. I think it is more important to find the combination you like even if it goes against the rules of wine. I have done a lot of experimentation in the last 8 months. Over 20 different batches. I have lots of time so I don't mind the trouble in making 1 gallon batches. I now use about .6t of tannin in all my meads except when using grapes. I like what it does to the mead and it seems to contribute to a faster natural clearing. I now never add acid at the start but my favorite is to make it both sweet with honey and tart with acid at the same time when it is done. I also like to use multiple honeys (blending) as Chuck W. once suggested and also I add oak chips. I am very satisfied with that combination but its not for everyone. It however makes for an interesting and complex mead that is drinkable in a very short time. Only my first mead required ageing longer than a month or so. That one is eight months old and still not acceptable. That is one I started out with too much acid and nutrients and I have had the good fortune of not repeating that mistake.

Dan McFeeley

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Oct 10, 2003
Re: Balance (especially between Acidity & Tann

Has anyone found the following details on "balance in wine" to hold true for Mead??

It hasn't been specfically researched, but I would venture a guess that they don't apply in quite the same way to meads as they do to wines. The reason would be the difference in acidic properties between the primary acids found in mead and in wine. Gluconic acid is a mild tasting acid and dominates in honey. Tartaric is a sharper and more sour acid, and is found in wines, along with lesser amounts of malic acid. As a result, "balance" in wine and mead are different.

A more practical example -- many meadmakers have found that adding acid is unnecessary, regardless of the wide range of honeys used. The mead remains balanced without acid additives. Because of the difference in acidic properties of the acids in mead and in wine, acid additives tend to act more like a flavoring agent, when used properly, rather than as a corrective agent for poor balance.
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