A lovely Friday off! We went to the Museum of Nature and Science and saw an exhibit on mythological creatures, and then to Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza for drinks and pizza, and I also had a lovely very strong cocktail. And after such a pleasant day, we decided that the loveliness of the evening demanded we crack the first bottle of Rebel Rhubarb. (Though I note that my Art of Making Wine tells me it only needs to be aged 6 months, like the dandelion.) I was disappointed that it’s quite sweet, though Jolyon likes it. I think I’ll likely do sangria with mine– it’s quite nice with a little orange juice, and you can still taste the wine. It has a subtle rhubarb flavor, and is quite refreshing, but I just can’t stand sweet white wines unless they go all the way to dessert wines, like a vin santo or a sweet sherry. I might try a different recipe next time, to see if there’s a way to preserve the rhubarb flavor but ditch the sweetness.`
At some point (Friday morning?), I also bottled the Christmas tutti-fruti and the mead, finally. I apparently didn’t take pictures, though. How many photos of bottles does one need, really? The mead is quite a nice color, and I used a couple of clear bottles, though, so I will try to remember to get a shot soon.
As I was walking the dogs on Saturday, I noticed that it was time to harvest dandelions, so I did that Sunday morning. (I actually picked a couple cups’ worth on Saturday, but I left it until too late in the day, so the big patches I saw in the morning were closed up for the day. I froze what I harvested, but if I do it again, I’ll just put the first batch on a Campden instead. The frozen ones sort of smell like lettuce about to go off.) Since we liked the first batch so much, I gathered a double batch: 12 cups.
As a bonus, I learned that if you walk around with a basket over your arm, picking dandelions and looking delighted, people smile politely and keep their distance. I think they all imagine I’m mad but harmless. I gathered all over the neighborhood, provided I had no reason to suspect the yards were sprayed. Then, when I had my 12 cups, I headed home and prepared the flowers. My recipe calls for only petals, but I didn’t want to spend hours pulling the things apart like last time, so I just trimmed them, leaving most of the bitter green bits behind. I had a very rapt audience, too. After the cleaning, and much ignoring of dogs, I put the petals into my big primary fermentor with a couple Campdens, sugar, raisins, tannin, and yeast nutrient. I didn’t have quite the quantity of golden raisins the recipes asks for, so I used some regular ones, too. It will be interesting to see the resulting color, though I suspect it will just be a deeper gold. The first batch was a sort of straw color, and quite lovely. But a slightly deeper color will be nice, too. It came out to about 1 1/3 pounds of golden and 2/3 regular.
I have a late classroom presentation tonight, so I won’t likely get home before 8:30 or so, but then I’ll add the yeast and give everything a good stir. I’ve chosen Champagne yeast, partly because I do plan to sparkle at least half of this (all, if I can get several more Champagne bottles), and partly because, fresh off the sweetness of the rhubarb, I want to be sure this is nice and dry.
Now where can I get 6 empty Champagne bottles?