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Flowers are romanticized throughout literature. They are readily available and full of aromas and colors that one would like to capture. We will talk about a basic rose wine in this chapter but one can easily tweak the recipe to make wines from any flowers.
Special aspects of flower wines:
The flowers need to be organic and free from dirt or any non-edible coating. The surface area of flowers are simply so great that typical store bought flowers are rendered inedible by sprayed chemical pesticides.
Not all flowers are edible. It is always best to consult a botanist before ingesting flowers.
Although flowers contain a lot of fragrance and colors, they lack in body. So it’s best to pair it with honey, grape or some neutral fruit base (which will complement the flowers).
Before making a batch, please test it by making a tea. Steep (like making tea) some flower petals in hot water and test with various spices, herbs to see which ones enhances the flavors and which do not.
Most recipes will mention weight of fresh flower petals. Unfortunately, what we get is either dried petals or full flowers. I typically use 200gm of flower petals per liter. If dried, 100gm is sufficient. If plucking fresh flowers, then pluck twice as much. After removing the stem, pistil (center of the flower), we lose almost half the weight.
Be mindful that unlike fruits, flowers are voluminous, so a basket of flowers would make a fraction of wine that a basket of grapes can make. In addition, since the petals themselves do not contain any sugar, we need to add twice as much to get the same alcoholic levels.
Herbs, mushrooms and blue lotus can also be introduced with small tweaks. However, because of off-flavors and associated tastes most of these special herbal wines cannot be consumed in large quantities.
Mahua flowers, on the other hand has juicy pearls with about 10% sugar content. Hence, these juices can be readily fermented. There is no need to introduce any other fruit juice base.
Ingredients: For 1L of rose wine:
Cleaned fresh petals (without any stem and non-petals flower portion) or 50gm of dry petals – 100gm
Sugar base with body (300gm of honey or 150gm of raisins or 1 liter of grape juice)
Additives (yeast, nutrients, bentonite, Campden, sorbate etc.)
Steep the petals in warm water until the rose petals are white (much like tea brewing process). This helps extract the flavors, aroma and color. After this, discard the petals (but it is ok to leave them in too) and go with the normal process of fruit wine making. First, add (pitch) yeast, wait for the fermentation to complete, and then move to secondary fermenter and then finally bottling. The process takes 28 days, like other wines in this book.
Be mindful about adding too many spices to flower wines as these spices can easily overpower the delicate floral base flavors. Other common flowers that can be used are Hibiscus (please remember that its purple color requires a certain pH to be stable), dandelion, blue lotus (it can be bitter) and most of Ayurveda medicinal flowers. Wines made from herbs, mushrooms often have a moldy earthly feel which needs to be toned down through careful pairing and planning. People have made wines from aloe-vera gel, cactus and even cucumbers. Experimenting with various items grown in one’s backyard often yields surprisingly amazing results.