Dandelions... Weeds to Wine!
Full disclosure first: I have not made nor taste dandelion wine... yet. I usually only share recipes that I have made myself numerous times so that I can give real advice about them. However, dandelion wine has been on my mind for some time. I don't want to forget about it or have to search for the recipe when I have the chance to make it. So here goes.
There is no "right" way to make Dandelion Wine. I came across literally hundreds of recipes in my search. The basic components are as follows:
Dandelions - either petals only or petals with the flower head and no stalk
Water - Needed for volume.
Body building agent - since dandelion wine is a light wine without body (sense of alcohol and a sense of feeling in the mouth), other ingredients are used to add body. Golden raisins, white grape juice, figs, and dates have all been used. The lighter the color, the more "true" the dandelion wine will look.
Acid - Citrus is used most often as lemons and oranges, but a bottle of "acid blends" can be used as well
Sugar - Needed for alcohol production. Granulated sugar is most common but other sugars can be used. Honey can be used to make a Dandelion Mead. The amount of sugar affects the end alcohol content. But before you dump a bunch of sugar to make a high alcohol wine, remember that only certain yeasts can continue to make alcohol in a high alcohol environment. Higher alcohol will usually make the wine drier.
Yeast - Typically white wine yeast is used. There are so many available. Each yeast strain will give its own subtle flavor differences, so experiment!
Yeast Nutrient - This is usually used in non-grape wines so that the growing yeast can continue to propagate.
Beautiful color in this finished Dandelion Wine
Here is the recipe that I like the most (i.e. the first one I will try). It is from amateur wine maker Jack Keller with some minor changes/explanations by me.
- 1 qt dandelion petals
- ¾ lb chopped or minced golden raisins
- 2 lbs finely granulated sugar
- 3 lemons, juice and zest
- 3 oranges, juice and zest
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 7½ pts water
- wine yeast
- Prepare flower petals beforehand.
- Put water on to boil and pour over dandelion petals in primary fermenter (glass jug or sterile food grade bucket).
- After 2 hours, strain, press and discard petals.
- Return water to heat and bring to low boil.
- Stir in citrus juice and sugar, stirring well to dissolve.
- Add citrus zest and chopped raisins.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- When room temperature, stir in yeast nutrient and activated yeast and recover.
- Stir 3 times daily for 10-14 days.
- Strain into secondary fermenter and fit airlock.
- After 3 weeks, rack (transfer the liquid part and leave the sediment) into another sanitized secondary fermenter, top up with sterile water and reattach airlock.
- When wine clears, wait 30 days and rack, top up and refit airlock.
- Repeat racking procedure every 3 months for 9 months.
- Rack into bottles and age 6-12 months or longer.