It was time.
Last May, we made our very first batch of dandelion wine. Up until then, the only fermenting I’d ever done was accidental, a result of leaving fruit juice, or black beans, or cooked barley sitting in the refrigerator too long. As this was our first attempt at deliberate fermentation, we followed the recipe from Euell “Try Anything” Gibbons pretty much to the letter.
At the time, I was unconvinced that dandelions had anything to do with dandelion wine. Oh sure, you start with a bunch of dandelions, but then you add things like oranges and lemons and sugar and ginger, which are all way more delicious than dandelions. I suspected that the whole dandelion part – which involves hours of backbreaking labor and many, many insects – was just inserted into the recipe to build character.
Now I’m not so sure.
Last night, we broke out the dandelion wine, which has been aging for almost ten months. There are two gallon jugs of it in the basement, but we reserved one small bottle that we keep in the kitchen so we can taste it without disturbing the jugs. Or shlepping to the basement.
First, we took a good hard look at it. It’s not completely clear, although it’s clearer than it was when we bottled it. It could be my imagination, but there’s a faint residue on the sides of the bottle that looks remarkably like pollen. In color, it’s like the dishwater you washed the orange juice glasses in. Which is not to say it’s unappetizing; it looks like something you can drink.
We each took a sip. It has a faint effervescence and a pronounced (surprise!) citrus flavor, but it also has very decided vegetal overtones that balance the sweetness and fruity flavor. I was forced to conclude that dandelion wine does indeed require dandelions.
Which means, come May, we’re in for another few hours of backbreaking work. It’s not ready for prime time yet, but we’re happy enough with our 2009 vintage to want to try it again for 2010.