Friday, 18 January 2013

Winter Gorse Wine

Anyone who wanders the cliff tops of Kent in summer can't help but recognise the warm, coconut fragrance of the bright yellow gorse bushes that stand proud against the sea breezes.

But if you thought you need to wait another 6 months for them, there is an old saying that "Gorse is out of flowering season, when kissing is out of fashion"; which should give you a clue to the fact that you should be able to find gorse flowers almost any time of the year.

It makes a wonderful hedgerow wine (or so i've read...and hope to find out for myself), so what better than to take a winter walk along the saxon shore way and see if I can find some this weekend.

If I can get enough, this is the recipe I'll try, a mix of a few recipes i found on line and in a "Booze for Free" book

6 pints (a good carrier bag full) of gorse flowers (though I've seen recipes where you can also throw in any spring flower like dandelion, primrose, etc too)
3lb of sugar
4 pints of water
can of grape concentrate (or throw in a cup of chopped sultanas) - this is basically to add tannins to make it more "winey"
2 oranges (zested and juiced)
tsp Citric Acid
half a cup of black tea (more tanin - optional - leave out if you want it more white winey that rose')
packet of yeast nturient/yeast (champagne yeast best for high alcohol)

put the flowers, sugar, grape juice, tea, orange juice and zest, citric acid in a large sterilised fermenting bucket or big pan (that can be covered)
(don't add the yeast or yeast nutrient at this stage)
boil up the water, and add to the mixture, stir, cover, and leave to steep and cool - make sure it's boiling water to release the flavours, and also to sterilise the mixture to kill of any natural yeasts that you may not want.
once it's cooled to room temp (or a little above) throw in the yeast and yeast nutrient
cover with a breathable cover, and leave to ferment until the fermentation dies down - probably 3-5 days in a reasonably warm house.
once finished, strain it through a sterile piece of muslin, into a demi-john, add the mandatory air lock, and leave in a quiet corner to finish it's ferment and clarifiy (this should be about a month - you'll notice when you no longer hear it bubbling away to itself, and sediment has settled)

depending on how clear you want your wine, you could re-rack it into a clean demi john and leave for another month to clarify further, before bottling.

"Re-Fizzing" - bottle it with a spoon of sugar....
right...if you like the taste of it flat...then once bottled, feel free to drink, or keep for later as required.

If you would like to re-energise it and make it sparkling, then make sure you bottle it in swing top strong glass bottles, and add 1 good tea spoon of sugar to each bottle as you bottle it.
leave it to referment in the bottle for another couple of weeks, then chill well, and open carefully for golden yellow, coconut flavoured dry sparkling gorse wine!