Winecraft: Daylily #2

The daylilies just keep coming, bursting forth with their irrepressible cheeriness each morning, truly living in the moment…each bloom has just a single day in the sun, so they make it a glorious one! I had to try to capture that exuberance in a bottle, hoping to honor it by making a truly special, ephemeral wine: a wine that would remind me of the hot days of summer with each sip.

I used a Jack Keller recipe for this batch…and strayed from the recipe almost immediately: I don’t keep frozen White Grape Juice Concentrate on hand, so I substituted raisins, instead. The recipe calls for either champagne or Hock wine yeast; I used champagne, since that’s one of the types of dry yeast I do keep in stock. To be clear, I’m not recommending that you run amok with the substitutions if you haven’t made the recipe before because you won’t have a baseline from which to evaluate the finished product (i.e., did it come out the way it was supposed to?), but I think – even with this alteration – that the finished product should be eminently drinkable.

This recipe also starts with making what’s essentially daylily sweet “tea”: infusing the prepared flowers in sugar water. Once it cooled sufficiently, I added the acid blend, tannin, yeast nutrient, and yeast. It’ll ferment for five days, then be moved to a secondary fermenter. This wine recipe requires racking every 30 days until no more sediment appears…that could mean a lot of racking.

In the secondary fermenter, the beautifully cantaloupe-colored liquid continued to ferment actively. The color is mesmerizing: not exactly the bright orange of the flower, but not the purple shade of the blooms-infused water. I think it’ll clear to something very pretty, something that will do the loveliness of the contributing daylily justice.

Wondering what daylily wine tastes like? I haven’t tasted it before (and it’s too early to try either batch right now), but it’s been described in a winemaking forum as “fruity” and compared to hibiscus wine (more here: Started Daylily Wine). I’m hoping for a light, fruity, strongly floral wine. The steeping blossoms definitely had vegetal notes: hints of grass and squash, maybe, but don’t be put off by that because I’ve found that vegetable wine can be very nice, indeed – beetroot wine will knock your socks off!

Find Jack Keller’s recipe in this collection.

Stay tuned – updates on the progress of daylily wine #2 to come!

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