A wine tasting

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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.

The glass looked clean at the time ...

The glass looked clean at the time ...

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.

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Comments

  1. Kevin F. says:

    My darling wife… You neglected to mention that it’s about 80 proof! Needs another 4 years if you ask me.
    K.

  2. I think that dandelion wine will be something I try at some point because even though the jury is still out on my gardening skill, I can grow the hell out of some dandelions.

  3. Home made wine should always have a shocking alcohol content. And bits floating in it. It’s what gives it it’s rustic charm and character.

    The only important test: take a sip, then wave your hand in front of your eyes. If you haven’t gone blind then it’s safe to drink.

  4. Husband mine — Thanks for correcting my oversight. That’s what happens when you write a post after tasting dandelion wine.

    Paula — It’s a natural fit! You actually need a ton of dandelions to make wine — we take ours from an Audobon preserve.

    Jen — So it’s rustic charm and character we’ve got, is it? Sounds right to me. And we definitely passed the one important test, so I’m pronouncing our wine a success so far.

  5. Rustic charm and character….Posh Pilgrim, you’ve done it again :)
    Paula, your dandelion comment is crackin’ me up. If anyone is in need of dandelions this spring/summer for wine or herbal remedy or whatever else they’re good for…..just holler. We’ve have plenty in our lil plot here in Wellfleet.
    Cheers Tamar and Kevin and all you other good folks!
    -Sara

  6. I am literally mid-Gibbon’s recipe on my first batch of dandelion wine. I read his book quite some time ago, but was inspired to try it after recently having a dandelion beer. There was a hop shortage a bit ago (a big deal in Oregon) and there was at least one microbrewery that used dandelions for a bittering agent instead of hops. It was amazingly dandy. I do think there must be some sort of flavor in those little guys.

  7. Jenny — Good luck with your dandelion wine! We’ll be tackling our second batch as soon as the dandelions are up in quantity. And that’s a really interesting tidbit about using dandelions as a substitute for hops — I wonder if they used the leaves or the flowers? I’ll check with our local brewer, and see if he knows about it. Please let me know how you fare with Gibbons’ recipe.