Dandelion Wine: Part 5
All things, once seen, they didn't just die, that couldn't be. It must be then that somewhere, searching the world, perhaps in the dripping multiboxed honeycombs where light was an amber sap poured by pollen-fired bees, or in the thirty thousand lenses of the noon dragonfly's gemmed skull you might find all the colors and sights of the world in any one year. Or pour one single drop of this dandelion wine beneath a microscope and perhaps the entire world of July Fourth would firework out in Vesuvius showers. This he would have to believe.
~from Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury
Back at the end of spring, I picked a yard's worth of dandelions to make dandelion wine. You check out the process here. It's been sitting in the basement for the last six months, and last night we opened one up to taste for the first time.
Dandelion wine is traditionally not opened until the winter solstice, so here's to bottoming out on sunlight for the season:
It's hard to tell in the photo, but the wine is slightly cloudy (though this bottle was surprisingly sediment-free). It smells like I remember: kind of medicinal, with some hints of the lemon and orange from the recipe.
And the taste? Well ... I think astringent is the best word I can find for the dandelion part. There's a prettyy strong alcohol taste, although it's lost its fumey-ness over the months of maturing. It's mellower than it was when we bottled it, at least. It's also quite dry. We had cut a lot of the sugar from the recipe we used so it wouldn't be too sweet, so mission accomplished there. It could actually use some more sweetness.
Although we both took our first sips fairly timidly, expecting something more akin to moonshine than wine, we finished our glasses. Like most wines, we decided it tasted better as you went along.
It's hard to imagine us sitting around drinking this by the glass, though, or successfully pairing it with food. It's not really a great drinking wine, given its medicinal overtones. Our next step will be to see what to mix it with. Kirk thinks it should be mulled, like cider, with cloves and cinnamon sticks to complement the citrus in it. I was thinking the opposite – that it would be nice in something bright and sweet, like using it as the base of a white sangria that would feel sunshiny and summery.
I think we'll try both, since we definitely have enough wine to experiment with! Maybe we should throw open the pantry for friends and host an Iron Bartender competition to see who can come up with the best drink made of dandelion wine. Who knows? Maybe we can come up with something that would make it worth picking all those dandelions again next spring.
Although this wasn't the best wine I've ever had, it did call back memories of the sunny day when I picked the flowers, and all the smells on the air during those weeks while it was fermenting. It's hard to recall, from these dark days, what all those extra hours of sunshine and open-door breezes felt like, and it was nice to be reminded. In that respect, this wine fulfilled its poetic promise.