Dandelion: Sparkling Wine

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in edible, flowers, spring, Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

Dandelion wine.

“The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.”

Ray Bradbury, the great science fiction writer, was a man who knew how to appreciate summer. And he really knew how to appreciate dandelions:“A pride of lions on the lawn.”

To make dandelion wine, you need the full-blown blossoms. What’s more, you have to harvest the flowers when they’re open. Since dandelion flowers close up tight on cloudy or rainy days, you have no choice but to wait for sunshine. All recipes for dandelion wine agree that you have to pick the flowers in full sun, preferably at noon when they are open wide. (But avoid roadsides or lawns where car emissions or herbicides may pollute the flowers.)dandelion road

So you have to find a noon-time meadow, full of bright yellow flowers, and pick them with the warm sun shining down. Mmm.

Pick the warm, sun-bathed blossoms. Breathe in their unique scent, acrid, a little bitter. Get rid of every speck of greenery, which has the sticky sap inside–all the sweetness is in the yellow. The flowers are rich with nectar, sweeter even than apple blossoms. That’s not a poetic overstatement–bees will ignore apple blossoms and make a beeline for dandelions, unless orchard owners mow the dandelions at pollination time.

Simmer the golden flowers with a little sugar and orange peel, and let the mixture ferment for a couple of weeks. Strain, and then pour the pale liquid into glass bottles. That’s all there is to it. Only of course, that’s like saying Oh, just take a paintbrush, dab some paint on a canvas, and paint a masterpiece, nothing to it! Wine-making is an art that takes years to learn.

But if you do give it a try, put the wine in the cellar till winter.

“Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass.”

Traditionally, dandelion wine was saved to be drunk at the winter solstice. Dandelion wine has long been a cure for the illnesses of winter: colds, flu, coughs, the mid-winter blues in general. The wine is light yellow, sweet, a little sparkly, like champagne. It’s very pleasant medicine, especially during a January blizzard.

“Repeating the fine and golden words…as they would be repeated every winter for all the white winters in time. Saying them over and over on the lips, like a smile, like a sudden patch of sunlight in the dark.

“Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine.”dandelion wine


Find yourself enjoying dandelions? Please check out my book The Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion.

All quotes are from Ray Bradbury’s classic hymn to summer, Dandelion Wine.

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