Country Wine, Attempt the First

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Spring is here, and with it, my first attempt at wine.  I did take a wine class a couple months ago, but that wine was from a kit, and there were instructors and classmates around for help.  It was a fun event, and we made a Malbec that I’m sure will be delicious.

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But the big event from this weekend was the making of my first country wine.  A couple friends sent me photos of dandelion wines on Facebook, and then when I was walking the dogs, I couldn’t help noticing how many dandelions were around.  So when I got home, I found a recipe in Drink Your Garden and decided to start there.  Alas, as with most things, I let my enthusiasm get ahead of me, so I made some beginner mistakes that might turn the stuff into vinegar.  Only time will tell.

Fist step was gathering 8 cups’ worth of dandelion blossoms. 

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That was actually surprisingly easy.  According to another source, this particular wine is usually made this time of year and drunk at Christmastime, and given the abundance of flowers, I can see why.

The harder part was pulling out the blossoms, which took hours.

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I read afterwards that this step wasn’t actually necessary, but that’s what my recipe called for, so that’s what I did.  Afterwards, I gave them a rinse and then put them in the primary fermentation bucket with a gallon of boiling water and a Campden tablet.  That mixture is supposed to sit for 24 hours, but the petal step took so long that I didn’t get the steeping started until close to 8:00.  So I did jump the gun a bit the next day, giving my Campden tablet less that its ideal 24 hours to sit and sanitize.  I also failed to sterilize my equipment, so this double whammy is what will potentially turn the stuff into vinegar.

After the not-quite-24-hour steep, I drew off some of the water, brought that to a boil, dissolved the sugar in it, and cooled it to “blood temperature,” according to the instructions.  When it was cooled enough, I added the sugar water, white raisins, the juice of an orange and 2 lemons, acid blend, grape tannin, yeast nutrient, and yeast.

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From here, it ferments for 5 days.  I’m stirring the mixture morning and evening, and although I don’t yet know the state of things, the mixture smells really good and wine-like.  My airlock doesn’t seem to be actively bubbling, which is disappointing, but when I take the lid off the bucket, I see evidence of fermentation taking place: the mixture is bubbly and smells fresh and yeasty.  I am hopeful that the active fermentation stage will start soon, but maybe it never will.

Lessons learned: be more patient with the process.  Sterilize equipment, read several recipes before beginning, and follow instructions more carefully.  I think I’m the sort of person who needs to go through the process, mistakes and all, before I can get that sort of thing in my head, in any case, so I’m glad to have learned that with the dandelions so that my fruit wines have a better chance of success.

 

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