Although elderflower champagne is a than this cherrished favourite drink during the summer months there are other drinks out there that in my opinion are far superior. Dandelion champagne is such a drink and what’s more the dandelion is very easy to identify and find. St Georges day (22nd April) is traditionally the time to go out and pick dandelion flowers and this is when they are in abundance. The do flower all year round but up until early summer it will be easier to pick in one sitting.
Have a real hunt around for neglected places as this is where dandelions love to grow. Check meadows, any grassy places such as playing fields and parks, wastegrounds and grass verges. Although I’d be very surprised if you don’t have an abundance of dandelions growing somewhere close to your house unless you live in a desert.
It can be infuriating waiting for wines to be ready and with most flower wines it is worth experimenting with a champagne first to ensure you like the taste. The complexity of the wine does change from a simple champagne but it is enough to try one to get an idea of what you will be fermenting. What’s more dandelion champagne makes for a thirst quenching distraction whilst you wait for your wine to ferment.
8 litres/16 pints water
1kg /2 lbs sugar
2 litres/4 pints flowers
4 Lemons. Two for juice and 2 sliced
3 tablespoons mild white wine vinegar
Cut the green bits totally off the dandelion heads to avoid bitterness and place into fermentation bin. Boil up half of the water and add the sugar, stir until dissolved. Pour over dandelion heads adding the juice of lemons, vinegar, lemon slices and rest of the water. Cover with a cloth and leave for a week or until it starts to bubble a bit. Since this relies on wild yeast if the bubbling doesn’t happen after 48 hours or to just to be sure that of ferementation add some dried champagne yeast.
Strain through muslin/cheese cloth into swing top bottles and drink after about 2 weeks. A cautionary note, since the champagne will still be fermementing you may wish to place the bottles in the fridge since this will slow down the ferementation process. I also sometimes place my dandelion champange into a demijohn and allow to ferment for a further month, before bottling.