Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 25, 2010

Christmas Cheer

Dandelion Wine

Last April, when the dandelions were in full bloom on our Kansas lawn, Keith and I sat down and picked a batch of fresh blossoms to make a batch of dandelion wine.

I’d had some previous experience with home wine-making, but Keith was a bit of a skeptic as homemade wine has a sketchy reputation, but he’s always ready for an adventure, so we opened up “First Steps in Winemaking” by C.J.J. Berry and turned to pages 148 and 149.

OK. So, turning to those pages did not work out very well, as the book binding fell apart years ago, and we just sort of leafed through chunks of the book until we found the right section!

First step: Boil water and pour it over the dandelion flowers and let them steep for two days.

After that, you add some lemons, oranges, raisins (optional), and boil again at some point before adding yeast, tannin and nutrient.

Then you fit an air lock onto your bottle and wait…and wait…and wait.

Then you siphon off the wine into another bottle, fit an air lock and wait…and wait…and wait…until Christmas.

Our wine traveled with us across the country, in a dark place under the kitchen sink, and we almost forgot about it.

Luckily, the other day, Keith remembered, so we dug out the gallon jug and opened it up for a taste test.

We took simultaneous first sips, and were pleasantly surprised!

Now, what we were really making was more of a liqueur than a wine…a dessert wine, perhaps? Fruity and sweet – but not too sweet. We decided we had a keeper.

The best way to serve this kind of wine is to pour small amounts from a decanter into cute little cordial glasses, and sip while sitting by the fire reading a good book, or while playing music on Christmas Eve.

As we were lacking in both a decanter and cute little glasses, we hopped into the truck and drove over to Spring Street Antiques, in White Springs, as a Christmas Eve treat to ourselves.

The first thing we saw was a set of amber glasses that would be perfect – but you know, you should never just buy the first thing you see.

We searched that entire store, looking at every single set of glasses they had, before we decided we liked the amber ones best, so we marched them to the check-out counter and went on a quest for a decanter.

Of course, there was no perfect match, but we located a three-sided amber bottle decorated with grapes and grape leaves, that would work. One problem – it didn’t have a cork or a stopper.

On to yet another quest.

We were about to give up, when Keith spotted a glass stopper on top of a display case…it wasn’t a perfect fit, but we decided it was left there by old Santa himself for us to find, so we popped it onto the bottle and pulled out the debit card.

Home again, we washed out our treasures and carefully siphoned amber-colored dandelion liqueur into the decanter, and set it, along with the glasses, on the dining table as our holiday centerpiece.

News of our Christmas brew spread through the campground, and several friends stopped by to join us for a Christmas Eve toast.

So far, everyone has enjoyed our dandelion wine, and we are all now looking forward to sampling our second attempt at winemaking – the Elderflower variety – currently hiding under the sink, waiting for it’s turn to shine in the amber decanter.

Cheers!

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