Flowers are romanticized throughout literature. Rose is 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.
Rose Petal Wine Recipe
- boiling kettle
- 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 winemaking.
- First, add (pitch) yeast, wait for the fermentation to complete
- After a week, move to a 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.
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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 is 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 enhance the flavors and which do not.
- Most recipes will mention the 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.
Wine from Indian Flowers
While the world goes Gaga over their Dandelion wine, Lavender wine and purple pea-flower wine, Indians have some interesting wines to offer as well.
1. Hibiscus Wine गुड़हल फूल
Use about 25-30gm of dried flower (100gm of fresh flowers) per liter. Pair it with a neutral fruit cider to give a robust base and mouthfeel.
2. Rose Hips (गुलाब का फल)
Since organic rose petals are hard to find, more and more winemakers are switching to rose hips. It is much easier to source from the garden and unlike petals, it has a much lower pesticide residue on them. Rose hips are best paired with a floral honey mead. These are fruits that are left over when the rose has withered. Although it contains a lot of rose aromas and essential oils, there are not many uses of it in the cosmetic industry. Hence Yay for wine makers.
3. Rhododendron लाल बुरांस
The Sweet Pink elixir has been successfully converted into wine in Himachal and is very popular amongst tourists. You can even get a refreshing Rhododendron squash from Himachal State horticulture board. Rhodo as it is called is good to lower blood pressure and has a soothing effect on sunstroke victims. The whole hills of Himachal, Uttrakhand, and Meghalaya turn red when the flowers are blooming. This can be plucked for free from the forest of the regions and is widely available.
4. Tesu टेसू का फूल
Also called flame of the forest, this forest flower has a deep yellow flower. The wine made from this flower is bright yellow and leaves the drinkers pleasantly surprised.
India is rich in flora and fauna. There are so many interesting flowers full of herbal properties just waiting to be explored.