All you need to know to make lilac wine or any floral wine really is just a few secrets of working with raw materials. Following the described technology will let you make an alcoholic drink of a light-yellow, honey or amber shade that has a delicate palate and persistent fragrance. This article goes over a unique recipe for lilac wine. The proposed method and ratios can be used for other flowers as well.
All types of fragrant flowers can be used to make wine: acacia, lilac, elder, rose, dandelion, linden, etc. Just make sure to collect flowers away from dusty roads. It’s best to pick flowers before midday, during dry, sunny weather. If picked after rain, the flowers will be low on nectar, thus making your homemade wine tasteless.
Caution! Only use flowers with a pleasant fragrance, as their smell fully carries over to wine.
For normal fermentation, the total (titratable) acidity of the must should be 6-15 grams per liter. The main problem is that flowers, water, and sugar don’t contain enough acid. That is why adding citric acid to the must is a must. If you don’t increase the acidity, flowers will start decaying instead of fermenting. This will lead to obtaining an unsound floral wine.
Yeast will convert beet sugar and flower nectar into alcohol, approximate ABV—11-12%. The ratios specified in the wine recipe will yield you a dry wine, which can be additionally sweetened or fortified with vodka or ethanol during the last stage. Lemon or orange peel enriches the honey-nectar fragrance of the homemade wine with pleasant citric notes and slightly enhances the taste.
To make wine from flowers you’ll need wine yeast or homemade ferment from raisins. Authors of some recipes suggest simply adding some raisins to the must, but this method is very risky since only very few raisins keep wine yeast on their surface. Using baker’s pressed or dry yeast is not recommended as they will make floral homebrew with a characteristic smell of ethanol instead of wine.
- Water – 4 liters
- Sugar – 1 kilo to taste
- Flowers (lilac, elder, acacia, etc.) – 1-liter tightly stuffed jar
- 2 lemons (average-sized) or 2 teaspoons or citric acid
- Unwashed raisins – 100 grams or wine yeast
To prevent infecting wine with pathogens, be sure to sterilize all of the containers with steam and work with raw materials with washed hands only.
Lilac Wine Recipe
If you don’t have store-bought wine yeast, you can prepare a raisin ferment 4-5 days prior to picking flowers: put 100 grams of unwashed raisins in a jar, add 25 grams of sugar and top it off with 150 ml of room temperature water. Stir and tie the neck of the jar with cheesecloth. Then move it to a warm dark place for 3-5 days. If you start noticing foaming, hissing, and sour smell, this means that your ferment is ready to be used. If you notice moldiness, this means that the ferment is infected and should be remade using other raw materials. It’s better to prepare 2-3 ferments simultaneously using different varieties of raisins (bought in different places) since most berries are treated with preservatives which destroy wine yeast on their surface.
Gather open flowers. Remove the leaves, stalks, flower spikes and other parts which give out the bitterness. You’ll need at least one 1-liter jar of tightly stuffed flowers per 4 liters of water. If possible, increase the amount of flowers to one 1.5-liter jar, but don’t go over that amount.
Caution! Don’t wash the flowers or you’ll wash away the nectar, thus depriving your homemade wine of fragrance.
Gently shake the flowers to remove dust and tiny insects, put them in a stock pot, top them off with 3.5 liters of boiling hot water. Simmer for 5 minutes, take off the stove and cover. Leave the stock pot for a day.
If you are using lemons to increase the acidity, peel the pre-warmed up lemons (remove the yellow part without touching the white pulp). Add the peels to the infusion. Put the peeled lemons or oranges in a plastic bag and leave them in a fridge.
Strain the flowers through cheesecloth dry. Add the remaining unboiled water (0.5 liters), squeezed lemon juice or citric acid concentrate, half of the total amount of sugar (0.5 kilos), ferment (without raisins) or wine yeast to the filtered liquid part. Stir till sugar is fully diluted.
Adding lemon juice or citric acid is a must!
Decant the must into a fermentation container. Leave at least 25% of it free for foam and carbon dioxide. Seal the container with an airlock of any design.
The most simple airlock for a jar
The glove should be securely attached to the neck
Move the container to a dark place with a stable temperature of 18-25 °C. 5 days after you’ve installed the airlock add 25% of sugar (250 grams). To do this, open the container, decant 250 ml of the must separately, dissolve sugar in it, and pour the obtained syrup back into the fermentation container. After that, seal it with the airlock again. After another 5 days repeat the same procedure and add the remaining sugar (250 grams).
Depending on the temperature and yeast activity homemade lilac wine fermentation lasts for 25-60 days. You’ll know that fermentation is over when the airlock is no longer emitting gas, the must gets brighter, and there’s a layer of sediment at the bottom.
If the fermentation process is still kicking after 55 days after adding the ferment, you should decant the lilac wine through a straw and leave it for refermentation under the same conditions.
Decant the fermented wine through a thin straw into another container without hitting the sediment. Taste the drink. Optionally sweeten it with sugar to your taste or increase its potency with vodka or ethanol (3-15% of the volume). In this case, increasing the ABV does not affect the taste or flavor.
Fill the storage containers to the brim and seal them. If you’ve added sugar, keep the airlock on for the first 7-10 days and then plug with a simple cork. Move the homemade wine for aging to a cold dark place with a temperature of 6-16°C (a fridge or cellar). If you notice a 2-5 cm layer of sediment, filter the drink by decanting it. Usually, it takes about 1-3 filtration cycles. Floral wine is considered ready when it no longer produces sediment. Then you can bottle your homemade lilac wine.
Lilac wine. The color may change if other flowers are used
Homemade floral wine can be stored in a cellar or fridge in sealed bottles for up to 2 years. It has ABV of 10-12% (without fortification).