Whether you're tasting your buddy's home-brew or trying out the latest release from your favorite meadery, look for the following characteristics of a great mead.
1. Balance - Meads can be made with a wide range of alcohol content, sweetness levels, acidity and tannins. Regardless of the level of any of those, a great mead must have balance across all components. No single element should be overly conspicuous or dominate the flavor profile.
2. Aroma - you should find a pleasant and inviting aroma that is not dominated by an overly strong alcohol smell.
3. Sense Transition - The mead should have sufficient complexity to guide your sense of smell and taste. Similar to balance above, the transition must be continuous and smooth with the aromas providing a roadmap to the flavors inside.
4. Drinkability - Whether seeking out a refreshing draft or a complex and rich still, a great mead will leave you wanting another glass after you finish.
5. Enjoyment - whatever mead you try tonight, it can only be great if it leaves you with a smile on your face.