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Wine Experiments


I've been a beer (and cider) brewer for many years, and I've never tried making a traditional wine.  When COVID-19 hit, I found myself looking at more random things to ferment, including both hard seltzer (MikeClaw), and various wines that could be made with supermarket or foraged ingredients.  The below recipes are a couple random wines I've tried making the last few months.  I haven't had a chance to taste the finished products yet, but I've had a mostly fun time playing around with them.


Orange/Citrus Wine (5-18-2020)


Recipe - Orange Citrus Wine



After making the dandelion wine and all the effort that was involved with that whole process, I wanted to try something a little quicker and easier.  I stumbled across a few recipes for "Citrus Wine," that seemed pretty simple, so I decided to give it a try.  Rather than mix a bunch of different citrus fruits, I decided to go with a straight Orange Wine for my first attempt.  I used a couple varieties of oranges from the grocery store, but nothing too crazy.  For this recipe, I was mainly interested in getting the zest off of the fruit and minimize the amount of the white pith.  In the past, I've used a zester when adding citrus to beers, but several times I think I got too much pith and my beers ended up being bitter.  For this batch, I found that using a vegetable peeler actually seemed to work the best if I didn't apply too much pressure.  I was able to get most of the outer orange layer off and it was much quicker than trying to zest all those oranges.  Here's my process and a few pictures of my "brew" day for this wine.



  1. Bring 2 gallons of water & 6 lbs of sugar to a boil and boil for a few minutes

  2. Turn off heat, remove kettle, and add the peels/zest (no white pith part) to the kettle along with 1 TB of Yeast Nutrient to the pot

  3. Stir to combine and allow this to steep for 30-60 minutes as it cools

  4. After you have steeping, cool the must (term for unfermented wine) down to around 80 degrees using a water bath or whatever method works best for you

  5. Use a sanitized slotted spoon or a strainer to remove the citrus zest/peels

  6. Pour must into sanitized fermenter & sprinkle dried yeast on top - no need to rehydrate

  7. Put your fermenter in a cool place where it can ferment in the mid 60s to mid 70s

  8. Once the fermentation is complete, you can rack into a secondary fermenter to help clear the wine or bottle straight from the fermenter and allow it to drop in the bottle




Dandelion Wine (4-24-2020)


Recipe - Dandelion Wine



I was about to mow the lawn and happened to notice several dandelions had popped up around the yard. For some reason the idea of making dandelion wine popped into my head, and I just went with it.  **Disclaimer - This is where having children or other people to help you would be very beneficial. I did all this work myself, and my back & fingers were sore for a couple days afterward.**






"Brewing" Process


  1. Find a patch of dandelions that you KNOW haven't been sprayed with chemicals/fertilizer/weed-killer before you get started. Since these were all from within my yard and I know my neighbors hadn't sprayed, I felt safe picking them.

  2. Pick the dandelion heads.  This is where having kids or friends help comes in very handy.  I did this on my own, so it was a lot more work than I was expecting.  I was picking dandelions for probably 1-1.5 hours before I had enough for a small batch.

  3. Once you have a bunch of dandelions picked, you will need to separate the yellow flower portion from the green base.  The best way I found to do this was to gently rub and squeeze at the base upward, and the petals will come out relatively easy. Repeat this a bunch of times until your fingers are sore and blistered.  In my case, this took the longest amount of time at around 2-2.5 hours.  I was just sitting at the table watching TV, so it wasn't a big deal.  TIP - wear gloves while doing this, unless you don't mind having yellow fingers for a day.

  4. After the petals were picked, rinse them in cold water once or twice to remove dirt and other particles.

  5. Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil along with 5 lbs of sugar and boil for a few minutes.

  6. Turn off the heat and add rinsed dandelion petals to the kettle along with some Yeast Nutrient & stir to combine.

  7. Let this steep for 30 minutes off-heat and strain out the dandelion petals. I used a slotted spoon & made several passes along with using a strainer in a separate pot so I could add any liquid that drained off back to the kettle.

  8. Cool the must using a water bath and stir to chill down to around 80 degrees.

  9. Pour must into a sanitized fermenter (or various bottles in my case since I didn't have anything smaller than 5 gallons at the time - I have since purchased a 3-gallon fermenter that has worked well for these smaller batches), and top up with 1 gallon of distilled or cold tap water.  NOTE:  You can add more or less water depending on how strong you want the wine to be.  Remember that the final gravity will be very low compared to beer, so be sure to factor that in when deciding what the SG will be.

  10. Sprinkle dried wine yeast over the top, attach the lid & airlock, and put in a cool place to ferment.  NOTE:  The fermentation process for wine seems to be much slower and less aggressive when compared to beer, so just give it time (a month or two) and take a gravity reading after several weeks to check progress.


Bottling Wine


I have plenty of brown beer bottles, but for these wines, I really wanted clear bottles to show off the color and clarity of the different types.  That being said, I also didn't want to buy a bunch of additional wine bottling equipment like a corker, corks, etc.  After looking online, I found that clear screw-top bottles were exactly what I wanted and didn't require any extra equipment, so I picked up a couple cases and some extra caps to have as spares.  I already had a racking cane, tubing, and bottling wand, so the process really wasn't that much different than when I bottled beers when I first started homebrewing.  I wasn't really sure about adding carbonation to these bottles, so I didn't add any additional sugar before bottling.  I may do some experiments with that in the future, but I'm not 100% sure that the screw-top bottles are meant for bottle conditioning wine or not.



Contact Information:  MikeYoungHB at gmail.com