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Based on my research it seems like mead just flat out doesn't spoil, but since I didn't see this specific question here I thought I'd throw it out there to confirm.

I bought a bottle of mead just under a year ago, that I've had sitting in my kitchen since then. Initially it likely spent most of it's time at room temperature, and being exposed to sunlight every day. Then in the summer it would have been exposed to temperatures in the 90's and up for a few weeks.

Before I open it and try it, I wonder if my bottle is likely to be bad? And if not, are there other ways it can spoil?

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Generally speaking, your mead is fine if you haven't opened it. Normally, commercial meaderies bottle in dark bottles (or something other than clear) which keep out the UV light. I doubt that the temperature was much of an issue. You should be able to chill your mead and enjoy it. FWIW, I'd drink it out of a wine glass made for white wine rather than the skull of an enemy. You'll be able to pick up on the subtleties of the mead this way, while the other might be more enjoyable.

  • The bottle is actually clear so I guess I can expect some damage then. – Canadian Coder Oct 20 '16 at 18:55
  • A bit but not a lot should be detected by you if you don't have a benchmark. – CharlieHorse Oct 20 '16 at 19:05
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Aging mead is perfectly acceptable. The biggest risk you have is that it will be oxidized and that some of the flavors could become muted. For example, in my homebrewed meads spices like anise will go away after a year. If you have a traditional straight mead that may not be an issue. I would assume professionally bottled mead would have minimal oxygen to spoil the mead.

A good primer about mead is in the bjcp 2015 mead guidlines. There is a primer at the beginning.

2015 BJCP Mead Guidlines

In that it states: "Alcohol flavors (if present) should be smooth and wellaged, not harsh, hot, or solventy. Very light oxidation may be present, depending on age, but an excessive molasses, sherry like or papery character should be avoided. Aging and conditioning generally smooth out flavors and create a more elegant, blended, rounded product. All flavors tend to become more subtle over time, and can deteriorate with extended aging."

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My experience is that mead tends to go flat rather quickly after opening. I do not know how long the average bottle of mead stays in good condition before being opened, but some of the mead we drank from some of our local meaderies has been flat when being opened (all use clear bottles), but the fact that we stored the mead in our pantry tells us that the color of the bottle did not play into the fact that they went so flat. No sunlight ever reaches our pantry! When flat, it is still drinkable, but is not at all appealing. Most people would not drink it. Why this happened I do not know. Perhaps temperature had something to do with it or simply it was a bad batch of mead?

The mead was chilled before being consumed.

Mead, like other types of wine, come in a variety of colored bottles.

  • By flat do you mean loss of carbonation or something else? My mead isn't carbonated, as it shouldn't be, but I know some modern 'meaderies' make carbonated versions. – Canadian Coder Oct 23 '16 at 12:35
  • By flat I mean no carbonation and no noticeable alcohol smell or taste. The bottles were marked at 11% alcohol, but I believe the mead had next to no alcohol content. It did not have a vineagar taste either. – Ken Graham Oct 23 '16 at 15:05
  • Ok, the mead in question was never carbonated so I guess that doesn't apply for my bottle. The only question left is if sunlight would have any affect. – Canadian Coder Oct 25 '16 at 16:23
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Mead hates sunlight. This is especially true for those made with some types or honey and fruit. It’s often The technical term in the wine industry is “light strike” beer people would know it as “skunking”. Again this will depend a bit on the mead as tannins (which most mead has very little of ) tends to protect it- but I’ve found even a week in bright sunlight or extended UV from fluorescent light can impact flavor.

That being said - it won’t make you sick it just might not taste good. - I’m a professional mead maker. We worry about this all the time since our display shelf gets quite a bit of sun and we have to make sure we don’t accidentally sell those bottles.

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