Wine Before Its Time

I’d like to share a wine recipe I got from Justin Mooney, a friend of mine from high school and college. For the first couple years after I graduated, I lived in a “cottage” near the University of Rochester. Calling it a cottage is just being kind. It had a perfect basement for wine making, though. Temperature and humidity were very stable all year round. I learned my wine making credos from Justin. We never made wine from grapes. We did make wine from everything imaginable, and a few things that were just plain wrong. I made Tang cider once. Don’t laugh, if the Apollo crew had this stuff, we’d be on Mars by now. Anyway, our favorite wine was Dandelion Wine. It’s simple to make and usually tastes great. Gathering dandelion heads just means going out to a field of yellow flowers and filling up a bag.  We also used this recipe to make wine from rose blossoms.  Here is Justin’s flower wine recipe…

Flower wine:

You can make wine from almost any edible flower as long as you can pick enough of them.


Nine quarts of flower blossoms of your choice.

Nine oranges.

Six lemons.

A couple of handfuls of raisins.


Six pounds of sugar.

5 gallons of water


Pour boiling water over the blossoms and strain all the juice out of them then discard.  Cut the fruit into medium sized pieces and add them to the flower juice.  Fill up the bucket with water and add the sugar.  Stir well.  Add all the rest of the ingredients to the bucket and then cover with Saran brand plastic wrap held on with a rubber band.  the plastic wrap and rubber band keep fruit flies from turning your wine into vinegar.

After a week of “musting” pour the liquid into a 5 gallon jar.  Water cooler bottles are excellent for wine making.  Put an airlock on the bottle, add a packet of yeast, and wait.  Those little yeasties will get to work right away.  They eat sugar, mate, make alcohol and CO2, then die.  They drop to the bottom of the bottle.  you’ll notice them piling up after a week or so.  Time to siphon or “rack” the proto wine off the dead yeast.  Dead yeast makes wine taste very bitter.  Each time you rack your wine, there will be fewer and fewer yeast at the bottom of the bottle.  Alcohol is deadly to yeast, so the process will slow down to a crawl after a few weeks.  Time for a bottling party!  Siphon the wine into bottles and close them tightly.  We had a corking machine, so we actually made real looking wine bottles.  We also got smashed.  “A little wine for the bottle, a little wine for me…”  Don’t siphon any of the remaining yeast off the bottom of the bottle.  I understand the desire to get every last drop, but that stuff tastes like, well, try it once and you’ll understand.   Age your wine as long as you can stand, then drink it.

Our method was a little different from a real winery’s.  We didn’t stop the fermenting process, so our dandelion wine was VERY strong, somewhere around 14%.   We used Champagne yeast, which doesn’t die out as quickly as normal wine making yeast.  that’s how champagne is made.  they make a regular batch of wine, then put a pinch of champagne yeast in the bottle to make more CO2 and that famous POP.  Put a whole packet of champagne yeast into the must to start, and you get a potent brew.

I just don’t drink much, anymore, so I don’t make wine now.  It was a fun hobby, though.

2 Responses to “Wine Before Its Time”

  1. Manuel Says:

    I wish I could drink wine and be a social drinker when we eat somewhere nice. I just can’t get past the taste. I go to nice restaurants and have a coke.

  2. Nicola Says:

    reminds me of my dad who used to make his wine in the outhouse – how many times did you loose the ceiling?

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