Mead vs. Wine: How are Mead and Wine Different?

Is Mead a Wine?

Mead is not technically a wine, mead has it's own alcohol category, although the process of making mead is most like winemaking.

Mead is made from fermenting honey, water and yeast. While wine is made from fermenting grape must (mashed grapes) and yeast. Wine is typically a catch all term for any alcohol made from fruit or honey, but most typically refers to grapes.

Beer’s brewing process, ABV level, and flavor palate make it easy to distinguish. But there’s no denying that mead and wine seem to play in the same ballpark.

The key differences between wine and mead are ingredients, but we'll review more differences!

The Differences in Mead vs. Wine

1. Mead Ingredients vs. Wine Ingredients

Like the above distinction with beer, an easy differentiator is in base ingredients. Mead comes from fermented honey, while wine comes from fermented grapes. The flavor, aroma, and color of the mead can vary significantly depending on the type of honey or fruit used. On the other hand, the variety of grape, the climate where it's grown, and the winemaking process all influence a wine's characteristics. Ironically, grapes can be used in a mead recipe for specialized flavor, and honey can be mixed in with a batch of wine.

2. How Does Mead Taste vs. Wine

Sure, mead can be dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet just like wine. But the two drinks still have their own taste profiles and complexities. Mead often carries the nuanced flavors of the honey used in its production, which can include floral, citrus, spicy, or earthy notes. Wine's flavor is influenced by the soil it was grown in (terroir), and the fermentation process. Both result in a spectrum of tastes from tart and fruity to deep and oaky.

Wine typically has a stronger alcohol taste than mead. If you had to compare the taste of mead to a wine, it's most comparable to a Moscato.

There are several different types of mead, each one with its own unique twist on the basic honey, water, yeast recipe.

3. History of Mead vs. History of Wine

Both drinks have ancient origins, but mead is often cited as the oldest alcoholic beverage, with evidence of its production dating back to 7000 BCE in China. Wine also has a storied history, with evidence of winemaking dating back to 6000 BCE in Georgia (the country). Each has played a significant role in various cultures and religions throughout history.

Both were probably made by accident way back when, but their histories differ. It might surprise some to know that mead was the drink of choice in the Middle Ages.

Wine would go on to surpass mead in popularity, but the world’s oldest beverage has made a comeback in recent years. Some attribute this to popular shows like Game of Thrones. We attribute this to something else: Mead is undeniably delicious.

4. Alcohol Content

Both mead and wine have a wide range of alcohol by volume (ABV), typically from about 7% to 14%. The final alcohol content depends on factors such as the initial sugar content of the honey or grapes, the yeast strain used, and the fermentation duration. Read more about mead alcohol content here.

5. How Long is Mead Good for?

Mead stays good for years if closed, we recommend drinking sparkling meads within a year. A mead that plays on the sweeter side of life can actually last longer once opened than a bottle of wine. Because of the higher amount of sugar from the honey, it stays preserved (with appropriate storage), sometimes for years.

Most wines, on the other hand, have a shelf life of a few days once opened before they start to sour (with the exceptions of port or sherry). Wine is typically best enjoyed between 3-20 years.

Lifelong “Wino"? Give Mead a Try!

If you are in fact a life-long wine fan with little mead-tasting experience, it’s worth trying. Whether one prefers the rich diversity of wine or the ancient allure of mead often comes down to personal taste and curiosity about these time-honored traditions.

The differences are there, but given the similar crafting process (fermentation) and nuanced flavors that both drinks succeed in providing, chances are that any Winie of the world could easily become a Meadie.

Ready to give mead a try? Let us help you out!

About Us


We started Batch Mead in 2019 to leave our Silicon Valley tech careers and pursue our real passion, MEAD!

We love locally sourced honey, apples and other ingredients. We focus on small batches to keep taps rotating and deliver delicious meads and hard ciders.

We believe mead is an experience, and our tasting room reflects all the notes of that ideal experience.

We recently won Best in Show from the San Diego International Beer Festival (2020, 2021 & 2022)! As well as several other wine, beer & mead awards!