Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sips on the Road: Nani Moon Mead - Kapa'a, Kaua'i, Hawai'i

For the most exotic edition yet of “Sips on the Road”, I visited Nani Moon Mead (@nanimoon) located in Kapa'a on the beautiful island of Kaua'i, Hawai'i during a vacation back in February. Now mead hasn’t always been a go-to for me, the varieties of it that I’ve tried in WA have been too sweet for my taste. Well I will shun it no more! At this visit, I learned a great deal about mead and Nani Moon’s dedication to being a locally sourced operation. Owner and “Queen Bee” Nina Krieger took us through her operation, the meads, and the history of mead during our wonderful visit to the tasting room.

 Nani Moon is the only meadery in the state and the only “winery” in the state with locally sourced fruit (in this case we’re talking about the additional fruits that go into flavoring the mead). Mead (also known as “honey wine”) is considered to be the oldest alcoholic beverage, dating back some 6,000 years in European, African, and Asian cultures. It’s often known as the ancestor of all fermented drinks. During medieval times mead was a part of the marriage ritual as a couple would drink mead during the wedding ceremony. They were also given enough mead to last one full moon cycle after their wedding, which they were to consume to promote fertility, prosperity and good luck.  From that ritual and belief sprouted the term “honeymoon”. Mead is created through a fermentation of honey and water and can be flavored with spices, fruit or hops. The whole process takes about 3 months and their annual production is around 1,000 cases. Nani Moon uses local Hawaiian honey, tropical fruits and spices to create their many flavors of mead. Mead is to be enjoyed much in the same way as a white wine, chilled and with some tasty appetizers to accompany it. And the best part: enjoy it right off the shelf, no waiting around to age it!

The Nani Moon Mead line-up

We tasted through the Nani Moon line-up, which was very diverse. My favorites were the Pineapple Guava Sunset and the Ginger Spice. The Pineapple Guava sunset was just Hawaii in a glass to me. It had tropical fruit flavors and was dry with perfect acidity. One of the tasting note suggestions was to make a White Hawaiian, which is a sangria made from Pineapple Guava Sunset and bite sized chunks of fresh pineapple. I think I’m going to do just that with the bottle I brought home!

The Ginger Spice was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. It’s made with island honey and star fruit, and infused with organic raw ginger and winter spices to achieve the unique flavoring. It was a mead that really made me stop and go “huh.. well that’s pretty awesome!”. As Nani Moon suggested, this would be a great Thanksgiving paired wine, but since my bottle won’t last that long (mostly because I want to drink it...) it will have to do for a summer wine!

I think my opinion of mead really changed with this tasting, mostly because of the locally sourced fruits that are used in flavoring the mead. When you have great tropical fruit to work with, it makes it easy to create something delicious, which Nani Moon has done. If you ever find yourself on the island of Kauai, I recommend a visit to Nani Moon, it will be a fun piece of Hawaii to bring back to the mainland with you! Make sure to leave some extra space in that suitcase.

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