Bottle #39: Wawel Mead

Bottle #39 is an extra-large mini of Wawel Polish Honey Wine. It doesn’t have any kind of volume measure on it, but it’s probably about 100 mL, or twice the size of a regular mini.

The bottle itself has a lot going. Its squat shape is similar to the bottle of VAT 69 Scotch I talked about a few episodes ago, but with a shorter neck that’s wrapped in string, ending in a little wax seal with the name of its producer “Milejow” on it. The name Wawel references the Royal Palace in Krakow; and the outline of the palace is integrated into the name, resulting in a great looking label.

Read the rest of the story

The bottle is clearly made for export, because nearly all the words on it are in English. It’s got a bit of Polish: the words “Miód Pitny Trójniak.” “Miod Pitny” translates to honey wine, aka mead. The English text backs that up, calling it a “genuine imported Polish honey drink” made from “honey and fruit juice and other natural flavors.” Trójniak is a grading term used for Polish mead, and means it was fermented from a mix of two parts water to one part honey.

Poland has a centuries long history of making and drinking mead. Its climate isn’t suitable for grape growing, but they had lots of honey. As I always say in my cocktail classes, most kinds of alcohol result from the combination of geography, botany and desire. So in Poland, that meant mead, starting in the 1500s. Mead lost ground to vodka and imported wine in the 1700s. Today Poland is the world’s largest producer of traditionally made mead, but it’s very much a niche product domestically, with most being sold to export.

As is the case for my bottle, which was exported by a company called Rolimpex. I feel like there’s a clue as to the age of the bottle from that detail, because I can find very similar looking bottles to mine, but exported by a company called Agro instead. They filed the trademark in the US in 1967 and owned it through 2010, but at some point the exporter must have changed. If I could figure out when, I’d know something. But I haven’t yet! There are a lot of old bottles of this on various internet auction and sales sites, but the only one that I’ve found with a date was a 1981 bottle also exported by Rolimpex. So I’m going to say 80’s for this one.

As far as I can tell, Wawel was exported to the US starting in 1967. I found a reference to it in the Congressional Record of 1968, when the Honorable Roman C Pucinksi placed into the record an article written for the Chicago Sun-Times, titled “A New Pride in Old Polonia.” In it the author proposes that the reader should explore the city’s Polish neighborhood and sit down with a glass of Wawel honey wine or Zubrowska bison grass vodka. It appears in newspaper advertising starting around that time too. The latest mention I found of it was in an Indiana newspaper in 1997, so at least in one part of the US it had a good long run!

As for tasting this one, I don’t have a LOT of hope for something called wine that’s 40+ years old. BUT… traditional meads are typically very sweet, and can age well, so I might be pleasantly surprised. I did find a Polish mead fan site that had tried a couple of these bottles. One was spoiled, but the other they described as “black currant dominated,” “incredibly mild, balsamic honey” and “just honey madness,” so that sounds worth giving a try!

(Thanks to my friend Marcin Kłak for doing some Polish Google searches that got me on the right track for this one. Most appreciated!)

Watch me taste this bottle with Lauren and Matt from Bløm Meadworks.

Listen Now

Watch Now

Bottle #39: Wawel Mead

|

Bottle #39 is an extra-large mini of Wawel Polish Honey Wine. It doesn’t have any kind of volume measure on it, but it’s probably about 100 mL, or twice the size of a regular mini.

The bottle itself has a lot going. Its squat shape is similar to the bottle of VAT 69 Scotch I talked about a few episodes ago, but with a shorter neck that’s wrapped in string, ending in a little wax seal with the name of its producer “Milejow” on it. The name Wawel references the Royal Palace in Krakow; and the outline of the palace is integrated into the name, resulting in a great looking label.

The bottle is clearly made for export, because nearly all the words on it are in English. It’s got a bit of Polish: the words “Miód Pitny Trójniak.” “Miod Pitny” translates to honey wine, aka mead. The English text backs that up, calling it a “genuine imported Polish honey drink” made from “honey and fruit juice and other natural flavors.” Trójniak is a grading term used for Polish mead, and means it was fermented from a mix of two parts water to one part honey.

Poland has a centuries long history of making and drinking mead. Its climate isn’t suitable for grape growing, but they had lots of honey. As I always say in my cocktail classes, most kinds of alcohol result from the combination of geography, botany and desire. So in Poland, that meant mead, starting in the 1500s. Mead lost ground to vodka and imported wine in the 1700s. Today Poland is the world’s largest producer of traditionally made mead, but it’s very much a niche product domestically, with most being sold to export.

As is the case for my bottle, which was exported by a company called Rolimpex. I feel like there’s a clue as to the age of the bottle from that detail, because I can find very similar looking bottles to mine, but exported by a company called Agro instead. They filed the trademark in the US in 1967 and owned it through 2010, but at some point the exporter must have changed. If I could figure out when, I’d know something. But I haven’t yet! There are a lot of old bottles of this on various internet auction and sales sites, but the only one that I’ve found with a date was a 1981 bottle also exported by Rolimpex. So I’m going to say 80’s for this one.

As far as I can tell, Wawel was exported to the US starting in 1967. I found a reference to it in the Congressional Record of 1968, when the Honorable Roman C Pucinksi placed into the record an article written for the Chicago Sun-Times, titled “A New Pride in Old Polonia.” In it the author proposes that the reader should explore the city’s Polish neighborhood and sit down with a glass of Wawel honey wine or Zubrowska bison grass vodka. It appears in newspaper advertising starting around that time too. The latest mention I found of it was in an Indiana newspaper in 1997, so at least in one part of the US it had a good long run!

As for tasting this one, I don’t have a LOT of hope for something called wine that’s 40+ years old. BUT… traditional meads are typically very sweet, and can age well, so I might be pleasantly surprised. I did find a Polish mead fan site that had tried a couple of these bottles. One was spoiled, but the other they described as “black currant dominated,” “incredibly mild, balsamic honey” and “just honey madness,” so that sounds worth giving a try!

(Thanks to my friend Marcin Kłak for doing some Polish Google searches that got me on the right track for this one. Most appreciated!)

Watch me taste this bottle with Lauren and Matt from Bløm Meadworks.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *