dandelion-lilac wine ready for sampling!

By Jeff on Monday, August 4th, 2014

So this is our latest experiment in flower-based wines- lilac and dandelion wine!

This one captured the essence  of a Minnesota spring.  Dandelions from the hills of Highland Park and bright purple lilacs from our St. Paul yard.   I added some grape juice for tartaric acid and sugar content.  Grapes came from my dad’s garden in Belle Plaine and my sister’s garden in New Brighton.

We have thick hedges of lilacs on either side of our front yard, and I gathered only a small portion of what was there.  I could make a much larger batch of lilac-only wine in the future using nothing but the flowers from our yard.   I’d have to leave some on the hedges for my daughter, but the rest are fair game.

To get technical-  we had two to three gallons of dandelion fluff- just the flowers, none of the stem or sepals (see photo at top) and about a gallon of cleaned lilac flowers (second photo).  I used 4 1-gallon bags of grapes that I had in the deep freeze from last fall- Kay Gray and Beta.  I cooked the gapes and dandelion fluff in 10 gallons of water added 7 or 8 pounds of sugar, the juice of 3 limes for acidity and pitched two packets of Lalvin’s K1-V1116 yeast.  I added the lilacs, cooked in a gallon of water and strained, a few days later.

The batch ended up being around 14 gallons total and sat in our stainless steel fermenter in our dining room for just under three months.  We can’t make wine in our building yet, so our fermenter stays in the dining room for now.

I ended up with a must with 8.5% potential alcohol, and still have 1% remaining on my latest hydrometer check- and the wine tastes good– light and fresh for a hot, humid day.  A little re-fermentation will give it some sparkle, which I think this one should have.    So it’s a lower alcohol semi-sweet sparkling wine- 7% to 7.5% depending on how much was lost during fermentation.

The biggest surprise was the color.  Bright pinkish purple!  The lilacs were a part of the color, as well as the Beta grapes.  I’m not a huge fan of pink wines myself, but this one glows- it’s hard not to like it.

I’m looking forward to getting some more sophisticated winery equipment so I can more accurately tell how much alcohol is in the final product.

I don’t need instruments to tell me that this batch turned out really well though.   The truth is in the tasting.  This is one that we’ll be making again.