“Wine made from flowers preserves the exquisite flavors and benevolent properties of the blossoms from which it is made. It also preserves the memories of fine, clear, sunshiny daysalone or with Someone Elsein woods, meadows, and hills, picking millions of tiny flowers for hours until they become etched on the insides of the eyelids.” These wise words were written by my friend and neighbor Merril Harris, in an article, “Nipping in the Bud: How to Make Wine from Flowers,” published in Ms. Magazine nearly thirty years ago.
Dandelion wine is the classic flower wine, made with the bright yellow flowers of the plentiful and easy-to-find weed. Don’t believe the hype of the manicured lawn lobby; dandelion is not only beautiful and tasty, but potent liver-cleansing medicine. Many other flowers can transfer their delicate bouquets and distinctive essences into wines, as well, including (but certainly not limited to) rose petals, elderflowers, violets, red clover blossoms, and daylilies.
“Begin by gathering your flowers,” writes Merril, “perhaps the most pleasurable part of the winemaking process.” As a general guideline, pick about a gallon of flowers per gallon of wine you intend to make. If you cannot gather this many in a single outing, freeze what you gather until you accumulate enough. Be sure to pick flowers from places that have not been sprayed, which usually means not roadsides.
TIMEFRAME: 1 year or more
INGREDIENTS (for 1 gallon/4 liters):
1 gallon/4 liters flowers in full bloom
2 pounds/1 kilogram (4 cups/1 liter) sugar
2 lemons (organic, because you will use the peel)
2 oranges (organic, because you will use the peel)
1 pound/500 grams raisins (golden raisins will preserve the dandelion’s light hue better than dark raisins)