Dandelion Wine: You've Had Worse Ideas April 12, 2016 14:25
Ah, spring seems like it is finally, for lack of a better term, springing. Before you know it, we will be overflowing with fermentable plants: fruits, vegetables, berries, and even flowers that we can turn into tasty beverages by way of beer, wine, cider, mead, or any other combination. Among the first of these harvestable additives is the humble dandelion. Dandelions are a sure sign of warmer weather - the soil is sitting pretty at about 55 degrees, and you can safely plant everything in your garden. (That is, if you have not already; this is the best indication that the temperature is good for planting potatoes at least.)
For some reason, dandelions are considered to be a weed by many homeowners. Personally, I find this confusing, since they serve a number of purposes. For one, I like the bright, but short-lived, yellow flowers scattered through my lawn. Second, the flowers are necessary for bees. In a world of diminishing bee populations, these are an important food source for bees, as well as moths, butterflies, beetles, and a variety of birds! Most of the dandelion is edible - leaves in salads, roots that can be used for tea, and the flowers aren’t bad in wine! And to top it all off, dandelions have been used in a wide variety of natural remedies for a very long time. In short, hold off on mowing your lawn. Instead, pick a portion of the dandelions in your yard and leave the rest for the bees.
Dandelion Wine Recipe: To make 1 gallon
- 7 cups Dandelion Petals (remove flower from all greenery)
- ½ pint White Grape Concentrate or 1# Raisins
- 1 gallon Warm Water
- 2# Sugar (Table Sugar, Dextrose, or Other Sugar of Your Choice - add more to raise the alcohol level)
- 3 tsp Acid Blend
- ¼ tsp Tannin
- ½ tsp Yeast Energizer
- 1 Campden Tab (or ½ tsp Potassium Metabisulfite)
- 1 pack Wine Yeast (CSF stocks several good yeasts for dandelion wine)
- 1 muslin or nylon straining bag (or cheesecloth)
- Harvest yellow petals when fully in bloom.
- Pro tip: Avoid using flowers from next to roads or where fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are used.
- Wash and drain petals.
- Place petals in straining bag, tie off, and place in sanitary fermenter.
- Pour water over flowers; stir in sugar and all other ingredients EXCEPT yeast.
- It will not hurt to take a gravity reading at this point if you have the proper equipment.
- Cover fermenter - we recommend an airlock with Star San solution in it.
- Give campden tab 24 hours to do its pasteurizing, then add yeast.
- Do not stir in the yeast, just cover it back up and leave it alone.
- Let it ferment in primary for 2-3 weeks, then siphon off the flowers into secondary.
- Leave it alone for at least another month, then take a final gravity reading, rack it again, add another campden tab, and let sit for two weeks.
- Bottle it! You might want to rack it one more time for clarity.
Simple enough, right? Bottle the wine in standard wine bottles, cork them, and leave upright for at least 3 days to allow the pressure in the bottes to stabilize. For long-term storage, it is best to lay the bottles on their side in a cool area out of direct sunlight. This wine will benefit from aging for several months, but will start to turn bad after 18-24 months because you are not adding a heavy dose of preservatives. When the wine is at peak, it tastes like a dry to off-dry white wine (a Pinot Grigio or even Sauvignon-Blanc) with a nice floral and earthy flavor and aroma. I highly recommend this delicious use of your own harvest!
Recipe based on Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook!