Sunday, May 16, 2010

For The Love of Dandelion Wine

The way I heard it I might be channeling the passion for dandelion wine of an ancestor. At a family reunion a few years back I was telling a great uncle about my winemaking exploits. He recalled a memory of seeing jugs of dandelion wine fermenting in the basement of the home and family member that I can’t recall my relation to. This practice was lost in the generations since and has only been rekindled recently, and largely due to the availability of free dandelions at the family vacation place in Vermont.

An untreated lawn full of dandelions is the bane of many homeowners. Dandelions are a weed and propagate vigorously so if you have them, you have them! To a home winemaker it is quite the opposite. Cheap wine!

I made dandelion wine for the first time in 2009. With five years of winemaking experience to my credit I was hoping for a successful go, but I was still unsure if making wines from grapes and fruit would translate to flowers.

Around mid-day on a cool, partly cloudy day in May of 2009 I picked two one gallon zip seal bags of dandelion flowers. This ultimately netted me six bottles of citrus-infused sweet wine with strong aromas of grass and flowers. The result was much more than I had expected. Reviews of the wine from tastings we have had exceeded any expectations I had, and have been a great honor.

I used a recipe published by Jack Keller, a VERY well known winemaker and winemaking educator on the web, which you can find at his web site at I opted for the first recipe which uses golden raisins to increase the body. This year I will be using some white grape juice in place of the raisins for the same effect.

This weekend, at the house in Vermont once again, I picked four full bags of dandelion flowers. Obviously this quantity will greatly increase the resulting amount much to the chagrin of my family. Oh the hardship of using free produce to make 20-30 bottles of wine!

I haven’t considered the pairing opportunities with such a wine but I surely will in the coming months. I do still have a few bottles of the batch from 2009 which I can enjoy while I wait for the newest vintage to be ready.



1 comment:

Pam Frank said...

Jason, have you read Ray Bradbury's book, Dandelion Wine? It's a very sweet auto-biographical look at his childhood with a granddad who made dandelion wine, and Bradbury uses it as a metaphor for all that's good about summer as a youth.

I have a friend who makes all sorts of wine from foraged fruits, including dandelion blossoms. While I don't find it too drinkable, the idea is lovely. You must carry on your family tradition, after all!!!

Thank for following my blog... I just now caught up with your "earth-dwellers" blog, which is interesting too.

Enjoy your pea soup today!