Old school Dandelion Wine

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Shookie73

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Hey everyone, I've been making some home made wine for a few years now and absolute love it! My Italian grandmother just recently asked me if I could do a dandelion wine, she and her family used to make it when she was real young but she can't remember what the recipe was. Does anyone out there have a recipe for a 5 gallon batch? I've looked around but can't seem to come up with a solid formula for 5 gallons, or a link to a recipe. Thank you all so much!
 

FTC Wines

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Good luck, and Welcome. 40 yrs ago my kids picked dandelions for an 80+ yr old neighbor so he could make the wine. His was awesome, so I tried to make a gal. Mine tasted like “Weeds” . He being Old World Italian wouldn’t give me any help or hint at the recipe. Roy
 

BernardSmith

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I've only made dandelion wine a couple of times - for some reason my yard does not seem to encourage the presence of dandelions. Other weeds, absolutely, but dandelions are rare.
The secret is to pick the flowers early in the morning (you can freeze them) and to use only the petals for the wine - no stem or other part of the flower. The roots can be roasted and can be used to make a coffee-like drink. I think you may want about 2 qts (volume) of flowers for a gallon of wine - and you want to be sure (I would argue) that no one has used pesticide any where near the flowers. I would think about adding lemon zest to the must or perhaps lemon juice although the latter you may want to leave until after active fermentation has ended.
 

Rice_Guy

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You are a glutton for punishment if you do 5 gallons, it’s lots of time invested soooo this is the only wine I put out in 375 ml.
A few Hints:
* dandelion seems to have a two week peak flower cycle. For the first half week the flowers seem small/ center pollen is not fully developed and the flavor seems low. At the end of two week the flavor also seems to have gone down, more woody/ cardboard. Optimum seems to be in the one week point (now all that said have never seen a study on dandelion physiology, my impression)
* dandelion has a daily life cycle! Flowers open up about 9 am and close Down at dusk. Over night the center stamens will transform into the seed with parachute. , , , ! ! it is important to heat inactivate what you have cleaned up by 8 or 9pm, ! ! ! in a fridge or freezer it will continue to change into a dry puffy seed head by the next morning. Plan to start your process by 9 or 10am, , , or when you stop for the day have everything in process heat treated and in a fridge.
* my current heat treatment is pick the yellow into a 16 oz cottage cheese carton, add about a teaspoon of water, cover with a glass saucer (heavy microwave transparent lose object), microwave for 99 seconds, let it steam ( make a tea) in its own juices. Enjoy the aroma of the tea, kinda pleasing and more obvious than the finished wine. If I am still picking more will be added to the pot and heated again. , , , this is stable I will start the wine the next morning, , , or put it in the freezer up th a year.
* less is more! There is nothing in the flower tea, , pH 7/ gravity 1.000. It is easy to overpower the flower with lime/ white grape/ ginger/ etc. EC Krause has a variation I like which I call “chemicals”, , yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, etc. Tannin is in a number of variations, my choice is Scott labs Blanc soft, , , not a chestnut based tannin, , consider high end as .6 gm/gallon . Another direction you could go is pick the least flavorful backbone you can find as pear juice, , , remember once you have heat treated it, it can sit in the freezer a few months.
* a gallon seems to work out to 450 grams of flower yellow/ ie a full cottage cheese carton. Web based recipes seem to say pick a gallon plus of flower heads.
* there is a significant oily yellow in the carboy of most variations. Consider filtering if you want a crystal clear wine. Pear backbone is the cleanest version so far
* less is more, , the first time with grandpas recipe I would call it yellow raisin wine. SOO delicate, , , but where Is the dandelion? Best it has done is a white ribbon in contest.
And I said never-never-never would I do this again.
But now I’m retired so I’ve done several variations:fsh and am asking myself again what would win a blue ribbon at state fair?
 
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Yooper🍷

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I just joined this website and found this.. I know it’s a year old but thought I would reply. I have my old recipe from 40 years ago. I would make it every year. If anyone would ask what it tastes like I would say. “It tastes like liquid sunshine”. I loved it. I still have the info.
 

BernardSmith

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Hey Yooper. Welcome to this forum.
I am curious. I see that CJJ Berry has a recipe for dandelion wine. He says no stalks but that there is no need to remove the yellow petals from the base. Other recipes say that if you don't remove all the green the wine will be very bitter. This year my plan is to make a gallon of this wine... but should I strip the flowers or leave the flowers intact?
Thoughts? Thanks.
 

Yooper🍷

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Yes. You have to use nothing but the yellow fluff. This old recipe for a 5 gal batch called for about 4 gal of fluff. I usually made a 3 gal batch with about
2 1/2 gal of fluff. A one gal batch should work with a gallon. It’s a lot of dandelion yellow fluff but it’s worth it.
 

HillPeople

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I must have posted the recipe here before so I won't repeat it.
It came originally from my grandmother (circa 1975) and we make between 12-24 gal/year.
It remains one of our most requested wines.
The only ingredients- 12-20 lbs, of blossoms picked in full sun- no stems.
No need to separate blossoms from sepals.
Zest from a dozen oranges and a dozen lemons.
Juice and reserve.
1 cinnamon stick
Boil in 5 gal kettles for an hour and steep overnight.
Strain. Add juice.
Chapitalize to 1.096
We usually ferment on D-47
I'd be happy to answer any questions.
 

Jal5

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It is a lot of work for sure. I only did it once but it turned out very good. Mine is a sweet version more like a desert type of wine.
Joe
 

Rice_Guy

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@BernardSmith,, there are recipes that go both with and without the green, so it is your choice.
As a flavor test one could do a salad with dandelion greens. The year I did several variations of dandelion I tried ingredients like the ginger or tannin in pie since I didn’t want to wait 9 months to guess the effects.
 
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