Wine from a stone

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We’ve been had.

We’re in the process of making dandelion wine, using Euell Gibbons’ recipe. It’s a simple procedure:

1.  Pour one gallon of boiling water over one gallon of dandelion flowers. Steep for three days.

2.  Strain out the flowers, and add a small piece of chopped ginger, the zest and juice of three oranges and a lemon, and three pounds of sugar to the liquid.

3.  Boil the mixture for twenty minutes. Let it cool to lukewarm, and add a package of yeast. Cover loosely, and leave in a warm place for a week.

4.  Strain into a gallon jug, cap loosely, and keep in a dark place for three weeks. Then decant and cork tightly. Wait at least six months. Drink.

Now think about it. This isn’t a recipe for dandelion wine at all. It’s a recipe for stone soup.

Mondavi wannabe

Winemaker at work

Remember the story? It’s a Brothers Grimm tale about a man who swans into town with a pot and a stone, promising soup. He boils up the stone and then muses that the soup might taste even better with an onion. And some carrots. And maybe a chicken. He cons all the ingredients out of the townspeople, who then marvel at what delicious soup a stone makes.

It’s always seemed unlikely to me that you could make wine out of dandelions, and now I know that you probably can’t. It’s ginger and oranges and sugar that you can make wine out of. That first step – the one involving weeds – is completely extraneous. You might as well use grass clippings, or pine needles. Or stones, for that matter.

I must be a little slow on the uptake, because I didn’t realize this until yesterday.

Yesterday was Step 4, straining out the bits of orange, lemon, and ginger and putting the wine in jugs. To prepare for step four, we had to acquire two one-gallon glass jugs (we doubled the recipe). An empty one-gallon jug costs somewhere between three and five dollars, plus shipping and handling. A one-gallon jug full of lousy wine costs twelve dollars, no shipping, no handling.

That is why we ended up with two gallons of Carlo Rossi Chablis, which isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think. A little seltzer, a little ice, and it’s absolutely drinkable. Kevin actively likes it.

We bought the wine three days before we needed the jugs, and, over the course of those three days drank and cooked with an embarrassing quantity of it. Still, there was some left and we transferred it to used wine bottles. We washed the jugs, removed the incriminating labels, and poured in the “dandelion” wine.

winejugs

Nice jugs!

Ideally, at this stage, you rig the jugs with a fermentation trap, a gizmo that allows the carbon dioxide produced by what fermentation is still going on to escape without letting any air in. A bona fide fermentation trap is a glass or plastic tube with a big bend and three bulbs, and you can buy it from people who sell winemaking supplies. Alternatively, you can rig a tube through a cork and run it into a water bath.

Or you can just use a balloon. Guess which method we chose.

There was a little left over, though, which of course we had to drink. It tasted – surprise! – of orange and lemon and ginger. It had a faint effervescence and a distinct alcoholic edge. But I have to admit that it also had a pleasant note of green weediness. I guess that’s what stones taste like.

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Comments

  1. You have NOT been had, but you have soooooooo just jinked yourself!!!!! Most likely, your wine will taste like pond scum and offer you up the most wicked hangover.. ….bummer!

  2. I won’t dignify that with a response. Except to say I’m rubber and you’re glue …

  3. While the cat’s away the mice will play.

  4. I’ve never made wine before (dandelion or otherwise), but if wine is anything like beer (which I have made), yours will most certainly taste different a month, 6-months, and a year from now. All the flavors will mellow out and meld together. One of the mantras of home brewing (of beer anyways) is never dump your brew – just let it sit a little longer.

  5. Jim — We’re planning on stowing the wine in the basement and forgetting about it. (I certainly can’t leave it on the kitchen table, taunting me.) What with tree-planting and wine-making, you’d think I was actually GOOD at delaying gratification.

  6. HI Tamar, I’m just reading your wine making now . Like the jugs…but must say it looks like condoms not balloons!!!

  7. Hi Tamar.. stumbled across your page while trying to locate info on fermentation traps… i am making dandelion wine, myself, for the first time (although I have had it before hehe and yes, it is MUCH better with age lol) and am also one who does not like to purchase things if I can make/grow them.. which is why, I must say thank you for this page.. I already have balloons!! :) I have been making medicines, creams, bath products (soap, salts etc) as well as teas, incense and others for a few years now, all natural and chemical/alcohol/crap free with marvelous success, so figured I’d put my lovely dandelions to other uses and try out the wine.. now I can finally get started.. hehehe thanx again, and I will be back to see if you are up to anythign else.. (I like ppl with a sarcastic sense of humor, and stone soup is one of my favorite books.. actually made it for my kids.. complete with rocks from the road hehe)

  8. have you made some wine from dandelion petals and no other additives yet? my brother made some this year, i’ll have to ask if he used other additives.

    if i were to do it, that’s how i’d start — plain. get a handle on the base flavor, and figure out whether/what to add later.

    but i won’t do it. waaaay too much work. i see all those bitter greens and flowers, and i think “dandelion fritters are sooo delicious, filling and much much easier!” delayed gratification, indeed!