This blog is a record of the wine that I make and drink. Each flavour made and each bottle drunk will appear here. You may come to the conclusion that, on the whole, I should be drinking less.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Dandelion Wine 2016 - The Making Of ...

On the four-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's death I found myself in a field on the edge of Gledhow Valley Woods picking dandelions for wine. A quick trawl of the internet tells me that Shakespeare never mentioned dandelions by name and only referred to them obliquely (if that) in Cymbeline: "Golden lads and girls all must / As chimney sweepers, come to dust." I was early enough in the season to catch them before the flowers became clocks and 'come to dust'. Indeed, 23rd April - St George's Day - is the traditional day on which to pick dandelions for wine.

My plan had been to collect flowers from the allotments off Harrogate Road, but all entrances were locked and since Julia died I no longer have access. I wandered around the adjacent park, where dandelions were sparse and mostly half-opened, and then down the hill to Gledhow Valley Road, where I saw an open area of grass dotted with points of gold. From here my spirits lifted and I picked six pints of flowers in the sunshine, feeling only slightly self-conscious as cars, joggers and pedestrians passed.

Back home, after all of Saturday's chores and a quintet rehearsal, I started taking the petals from the green base of each dandelion head. This was slow going and I had little time, so after doing about a tenth, I gave up and poured all flowers into the stock pot. I covered this with seven pints of water and put in 2 lbs 9 oz of sugar and the thin peelings of two lemons and an orange. This was brought up to the boil and I let it boil for either ten or twenty minutes (I forget). Meanwhile I minced half a kilo of sultanas and squeezed the juice from the lemons and orange and put these in the bucket. Once the dandelions had finished boiling I poured all this in too and let it sit overnight.

On Sunday morning I added a teaspoon each of nutrient, tannin and pectolase and sprinkled in the yeast.

After a very busy Thursday at work, getting everything done before a week's holiday in Cornwall and staying until 6:30, I put this into its demijohn. Its colour is a gorgeous mustard yellow and I get a good feeling about this wine.

The gorgeous yellow doesn't look quite as biege as this!
If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here.