Traditional Mead UK

Capsicumel (Chilli Mead)

A capsicumel is any mead flavoured with chillies. This is distinct from a Metheglin (Spiced Mead) (where sweet spices and herbs are used) as the goal with these recipes is to add a peppery heat to the drink.

Food with a chilli heat is typically difficult to pair with wines, with beer being the more common choice to drink with things like Indian curries. This difficulty comes from the effect whereby alcohol exacerbates the burning sensation from hot chillies. The dry acidity from typical white grape wines tends to pair poorly with spicy food as well.

The aim with a capsicumel is to embrace that increased burn sensation from the combination of the alcohol and the heat. This is, of course, down to personal taste as to whether that strong burning sensation is desirable or not. It cannot be denied however that there is a market even for chilli vodka.

The flavour profile is not always so extreme though. It is common to suggest low-acid, off-dry or sweeter wines with spicy food, so mead by itself pairs quite nicely with heat. In fact, one of our favourite combinations is New Quay Honey Farm Afon Mêl Apricot Mead with Middle Eastern or Indian food.

The pairing works because the sweetness is decreased by the presence of chilli heat in the mouth. This not only makes dry wines inappropriate (they would taste even more dry), but reducing the pure sweet taste in the mouth gives a chance for other flavour characteristics to emerge. This is something you can find in dry meads where other honey flavours are more apparent when more sugar is fermented away.

As a result, with a (potentially) very sweet drink like mead, simply adding a little bit of chilli heat can add subtle complexity. One great example of this is the Ah Mucen Cab Chilli Craft Mead. This drink has only a small amount of heat and has great complexity as a result of this (as well as all the other flavourings!).

Capsicumels found so far: