It is not known if St George celebrated his heroic act of dragon slaying with a glass of dandelion wine but, for some reason, his Saint’s day (April 23) is the traditional time to be picking the flowers for purposes of fermentation. Traditional wisdom also prescribes harvesting at 1pm, though this is less likely to be a result of superstitious necessity and more that 1pm is when the blooms will be at their most awake and golden (assuming St George has been blessed with sunshine during his commemorative anniversary).
We very much doubt you, or your wine, will be subjected to any un-saintly mishaps should you shun tradition and pick the flowers when you goddam want to, just so long as they’re flaunting their yellow petals and not curled up behind a nest of green.
There are hundreds of variations of dandelion wine recipes to be found, with many seasoned country wine pros claiming dandelions produce one of the very best wines around. And now there’s another recipe to join the ranks. Ours. Read on…
Our easy dandelion wine recipe
Gather roughly 2.5 litres of dandelion heads. Providing you have a location awash with dandelions this doesn’t take as long as it sounds. But it will leave you with yellow fingers. Get them home and start work on the wine before they begin to wither. Snip off the green bases and chuck the petals in a sterilised bucket or bowl. When severing heads thoroughness is not vital* so don’t worry about some greenery joining the party.
Take a handful of dried fruit (if you’re copying us exactly then sultanas are required). Roughly chop the fruit and add to the bucket. If you use campden tablets (to kill unwanted yeasts and bacteria) add a crushed tablet now. And if you use pectic enzymes (to help prevent pectic haze) this is also the time to be adding it. Boil up 4.5 litres of water and pour it over the dandelions, stir well and loosely cover. Set aside for two days.
If you’re following tradition it’s now April 25, and on this day you should be straining the liquid from the dandelions into a clean, sterlised bucket containing white sugar. Our recipe uses 1.3kg of the stuff and it also requires the juice of three mighty oranges and two of your finest lemons (no rind, no pith, no pips. Just juice). Stir everything until the sugar has dissolved then add white wine yeast and some yeast nutrient. Loosely cover and allow to ferment for around five days.
After this time transfer the bubbling liquid to a demijohn, fit an airlock and set aside to ferment. Rack off the wine after one month and bottle after three to five months. If you’re lucky the wine will be ready for Christmas but we’ll be holding on until next April 23 when we’ll raise a glass to St George and his dragon slaying antics.
*Just ask George. He didn’t even bother severing the dragon’s head, settling instead for a mortal wound under the wing.