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BEE D’VINE honey wine, grape wine, and mead – what’s the difference?
What’s different between our honey wine – BEE D’VINE – grape wine, and mead? It’s a complex question! We attempt to answer it below and also present an easy reference comparison chart.
BEE D’VINE vs Grape Wine vs Mead Comparison Chart
This is a general representation of products available on the wider market and of course there will be exceptions – so and so’s uncle make one barrel of a dry barrel fermented in a basement somewhere – kind of thing.
When creating BEE D’VINE we applied grape wine making science and philosophy to mead for the first time in history, so it’s mead made with wine sensibilities. We tried to capture this difference by various taglines, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to taste it to truly understand. Please try our standard 750ml wines before you graduate to the 3 Liter Brut double magnum or Demi Sec double magnum (the only extra large bottle honey wines in the world).
♦ “The Honey wine for wine lovers”
♦ “TASTE CHANGE”
♦ “The Golden Wine”
♦ “It’s not wine, it’s not mead, it’s BEE D’VINE”
We spent five years doing fermentation and aging trials because the production of mead has not gone through the same evolution as grape wine. To give you an idea: Although France is known for its grape wine, hydromel is made in Northern France much like it was made 1,000 years ago. The truth is that most French people, as well as wine appreciators around the word, view it as an old farmers’ drink. Until now, no one gave it the attention it deserves as a premium wine option.
BEE D’VINE is different from anything you’ll ever taste. While the elements below sets us apart, please understand that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
STYLISTIC APPROACH. First and foremost, our DNA is classic grape wine, so the style of BEE D’VINE is that of a premium barrel-aged wine. What is a stylistic approach? Well, imagine your own style and personality. It’s something that when someone sees it – or tastes it in this case – they’ll know it!
♦ GRAPE WINE INFLUENCE AND EXPERIENCE. Our founder Ayele, Food & Wine Magazine Tastemaker, manages a family grape vineyard planted by his father and crafts an estate-grown and estate-bottled wine called ‘Sol Wines.’ BEE D’VINE has a sister grape wine brand which is commercially available under the WANCHA label. It’s made from organic or certified sustainable vineyards. Currently, we offer the 2017 Chardonnay and 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.
♦ INGREDIENTS. We thoroughly test our honey and buy only premium local California honey from family beekeepers (not large honey packers where the origin of honey cannot be traced). BEE D’VINE is equally distinct for what is doesn’t use. Don’t get us wrong, we love asparagus, blueberries, almonds, jalapenos, chocolate, etc. But not in our wine! The vast majority of meads mix in all kinds of nature’s delectable ingredients.
Plain and simple, our philosophy is: if you don’t do it to grapes, do no do it to honey! However, if you’re the brave soul who wants to discover the equivalent of the next classic Cabernet Sauvignon fermented with, say, bananas – you have many options with mead. We think that’s, well, bananas, but to each his own.
♦ DRY. The vast majority of meads are sweet. When creating a dry wine, one has to be extremely precise. We suspect this is part of the reason meads are sweet: because one cannot coverup imprecision and mistakes by adding back honey with a dry version.
♦ PROCESS. We age BEE D’VINE in premium Dargaud & Jaegle French barrels 10-30 months in A Sonoma wine cave, where the humidity is always over 70% and the temperature no higher than 60 °F. Meads are typically not aged and certainly not under these conditions. We employ a number of innovative fermentation, processing and aging techniques.
♦ LOCATION. The Honey Wine company is the honey wine producer making classic honey wine in America’s premier wine regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The location is not simply a name, it attracts the most experienced and enthusiastic staff from around the world!
♦ ORIGINS. T’ej (ጠጅ) is to Ethiopia what saké is to Japan and scotch whisky is to Scotland. Ethiopia drinks more honey wine than the rest of the world put together and even have a special glass for it, the berelé. It seems that every family makes either t’ej or a non-alcoholic version. Our founder was born in Ethiopia and grew up stealing sips of it from the pantry as a toddler (which may explain a thing or two, but that’s an entirely different topic!).
♦ INNOVATION. We have made a commitment to scientific analysis and testing of the honey, the ‘must’ (wine in the midst of fermentation), barreled wine, and the bottled final product.
A testament to the inherent innovation of BEE D’VINE is our series of ‘firsts’ to:
◊ Have a tasting room/bar, of any grape winery or meadery, in the iconic Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco (bad luck, just four months before Covid, now closed).
◊ Be served on an international airline to over 100 countries
◊ Be made in Barrel Fermented method
◊ Be made in a unique double fermented method to produce bubbles naturally for our sparkling version
◊ Be produced in the prestigious Napa Sonoma wine country
◊ Be imported into Ethiopia – the center of global honey wine consumption
♦ BUSINESS MODEL. The overwhelming majority of mead companies have a bar. BEE D’VINE had a tasting bar which is different from a normal drinking bar as we only provide small samples to taste and sell full bottles for take-away. Would you go to your favorite bar if they only had one or two different drink options? Probably not.
This compels mead companies to proliferate their labels (invariably fermented with fruits/nuts/vegetables) in order to keep their clients returning. It also fits into their rapid turnover model similar to microbrewers, where there is minimal aging – just as well because many do not have temperature-controlled cellars for long-term storage. It’s simply a different business model, with many labels and less aging, while BEE D’VINE is essentially two labels – dry/Brut and semi-sweet/Demi-Sec.
♦ ETHUSIAST. For a joyful read, along with 50 custom illustrations, please download our award-winning book, The Celebrated Story of Honey Wine. It won the Gourmand prize as the “best in the world” for wine history books.