I had noticed the dandelions were blooming profusely in my garden. They were young and firm; the day was a flower day according to the Stella Natura Calendar. It was a perfect day to pick dandelions, if I had volunteers, I thought. I mentioned dandelion wine to Erin: she nearly swooned: she had always wanted to make it, she said. Her two young children and her husband might be able to help.
I called my friend, Charlie, a veteran wine maker. H agreed to come over later with a recipe and wine supplies. We would need seven cups of dandelion petals, he said.
My niece was visiting. She picked dandelion blossoms until her hands where orange-yellow from the petals. The family arrived; they too picked dandelions. Charlie arrived with his equipment, wine supplies, years of experience and a natural attention to detail.
He knew that dandelions close at dark. The petals are much harder to pull after the blossoms close. He advised us to tear the petals without touching the green sepals surrounding the petals—the green would make the wine bitter, he explained.
We finally used small shears to release the petals from the stems. Erin’s husband and my niece shared stories of Cajun cooking, as we worked into deep dusk to finish the job.
The next morning, Charlie saw me in church. “You know, he said thoughtfully, “Your porch is not the ideal place for the wine to ferment. It needs attention for the next several days and constant 70 degree temperatures. “
I called the family to see if they wanted to take on the next phase, but they did not have a good place at their house to coddle the wine. Charlie took it to his house where he monitored it and has now put it into a gallon jug for a secondary fermentation.
“Dandelion wine takes two or three years to be ready,“ he explained. Meantime, he returned this Tuesday with a bottle of vintage dandelion wine—1988. It was smooth and strong and complemented our meal of roast chicken, asparagus spears and strawberry/rhubarb sauce over chocolate cake.
Good eating. Good life. White Rose Farm.