Influence of Sweetness and Ethanol Content on Mead Acceptability

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Mead is a traditional alcoholic beverage obtained by fermenting mead wort; however, its production still remains frequently an empirical exercise. Different meads can be produced, depending on fermentation conditions. Nevertheless, to date few studies have been developed on factors that may influence mead quality. The main objective of this work was to study the influence of sweetness and ethanol content on mead acceptability. Different meads were produced with two sweetness levels (sweet and dry meads) and three ethanol contents (18, 20, 22% (v/v)), adjusted by brandy addition. Afterwards, meads acceptability was evaluated by sensory analysis through a consumers’ panel (n=108) along with chemical analysis by HPLC-RID of glucose, fructose, ethanol, glycerol and acetic acid. The sweet (75 gglucose+fructose/L) and dry (23 gglucose+fructose/L) meads presented glycerol contents equal to 5.10±0.54 and 5.96±0.95 g/L, respectively, that were desirable since glycerol improves mead quality. Low concentrations of acetic acid were determined (0.46±0.08 and 0.57±0.09 g/L), avoiding the vinegar off-character. Concerning sensory analysis, the alcohol content of mead had no effect on the sensory attributes studied, namely, aroma, sweetness, flavour, alcohol feeling and general appreciation. Regarding sweetness, the “sweet meads” were the most appreciated by the consumers (score of 5.4±2.56), whereas the “dry meads” (score of 2.7±2.23) showed low acceptability. In conclusion, this work revealed that sweetness is a sensory key attribute for mead acceptance by the consumers, whereas ethanol content (18 to 22% (v/v)) is not.

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