The much-maligned Dandelion may be a source of pain to many gardeners but to winemakers, their appearance can be a blessing. After a long winter hiatus, the first signs of dandelions popping up is a time to start thinking about making the most beautiful dandelion wine.
Dandelion wine is a white wine that perfectly captures the feeling you get when looking at the bright yellow headed flowers. Floral wines like this dandelion wine recipe are something special and fortunately, dandelions are both abundant around April and May and almost everyone can easily identify them.
For a plant that most gardeners consider a weed the dandelion can be used in all sorts of way. The roots can be made into a coffee-like drink, the leaves in salads or wilted like spinach and the buds are used in cuisine around the world. Our primary focus, however, is to make dandelion wine using the flowers.
The flowers are of course bright yellow but the wine you make with these flowers will be a more subdued tone, similar to most white wines. The addition of other ingredients will, of course, affect the finished colour.
Adding other ingredients along with the dandelions can be desirable because with most floral wines this dandelion wine will lack body if you are using purely dandelion flowers. The most common bodybuilding addition is sultanas or raisins. This will boost the body and mouthfeel of the wine but still allow the main ingredient, dandelions, to shine through.
First of all, make sure you know exactly what you are picking. We are of course looking for dandelions so if you are at all unsure that you are picking dandelions you are best off leaving them. I would suggest reading an identification guide as there are similar flowers to dandelions.
You will want just the flower heads, leave the base intact and the plant can continue to grow. You will need around 3 litres of dandelion flowers in volume. This is a fair amount so I would suggest finding a large area to go foraging in.
Collect the dandelions on the morning of the day you intend to make the wine. The dandelions will be at their best in the morning and will not stay fresh long so using them the same day is my recommendation.
Preparing The Dandelions
Contrary to what many people would think Dandelions are really fragrant and the fragrance is delicate so we have to try our best to preserve this. This means washing the flowers in water is not a great idea. The best thing to do is to give each of the flower heads a good shake to knock off any debris or bugs.
The stems are rather bitter so you will want to remove this and any of the green parts of the plant attached to the flowers. Once this is done for all the flowers we are ready to make the dandelion wine.
What You’ll Need To Make Dandelion Wine – Makes 1 gallon / 4.5 litres
Dandelion Wine Ingredients
- 3 litres Dandelion Flowers
- 500g Golden Sultana (light coloured sultanas keeps the wine lighter in colour)
- 4.5 litres Water
- 1.2kg Sugar
- 3 tsp Acid Blend
- 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 1/4 tsp Wine Tannin
- 1 Campden Tablet
- 1 sachet of Yeast
1. To start, heat half the water in a large pan and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve and avoid scorching. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.
2. Take the prepared dandelion flowers and petal and add them to a fine straining bag along with the chopped golden sultanas. Place the bag carefully in the fermenting bucket and attach around the top. Pour the boiling sugar and water solution over the dandelion flowers and sultanas. Give everything a thorough mix and then add the remaining half of the water which will cool the must down.
3. Add the acid blend, wine tannin and the crushed Campden tablet, give everything a thorough mix and then secure the bag and attach the lid on the fermenter. Leave the dandelion wine to sit for at least 24 hours.
4. After 24 hours add the yeast nutrient and mix thoroughly with a sanitised spoon. Once combined sprinkle the yeast over the must and once again attach the lid and airlock.
5. Fermentation should begin shortly after. 1 or twice a day take a sanitised spoon and give the dandelion wine a gentle stir to mix the flowers which have a tendency to float. Do this for 6 days, after which lift out the straining bag containing the dandelions and give a gentle squeeze to drain. You can discard this.
6. Leave the dandelion wine for a couple of days to settle and then rack into a sanitised demijohn.
7. Leave the dandelion wine in the demijohn to condition. Rack every 30 days or after sediment has built up. Leave for roughly 2 – 3 months until the wine has cleared before bottling. You may wish to back sweeten the wine if you prefer a sweeter finish. Follow this guide for advice on how to go about back sweetening your wine.
Honestly, this dandelion wine recipe makes a really beautiful white wine. It is amazing how much flavour can be extracted from a seemingly ordinary plant like a dandelion so I urge you to give this one a try.