Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wine Making: Peony Wine

For my first wine of the year, I wanted to do a fragrant floral wine made with fresh spring flowers from the garden.

Warning: this is a very time consuming recipe and results in an extremely complex wine.
This recipe is made assuming you know a thing or two about wine making. It makes a beautiful coral color when it is finished. This Peony Rosé has pink & white peonies, roses, honeysuckles, cardamom, strawberry, grape, green apple, white cranberry, and raspberry. Not simple or usual at all.
 The list of ingredients are so crazy you'd think it was impossible to make. But fret not, this wine tastes like a rainy Spring day in Paris; you'll want to sit down and eat macarons with it.

Around mid-May, I started collecting flowers to dry. The garden was a plentiful source of flower petals; pink peonies, white peonies, pink roses, and wild honeysuckles. After the flowers were past their prime and started to fall off, I collected 3-4 gallon size bags of petals to dry.
I used Rose de Rescht (pictured above) and they have a sweet, dewy, peony-like smell. You could replace the petals with rose water and it should work just as well. Make sure when using flowers in the wine, they are organic. Pesticides aren't something you want to ferment. As with fruit, be sure to rinse and wash any dirt or bugs off.

Floral Syrup
1 qt water
Handful green cardamom pods
 1 large handful dried rose petals
1 large handful dried peony petals (white and pink mixed)
3 handfuls fresh or dried honeysuckles
Small bag frozen strawberries
3 1/2 cups white sugar

  1. Boil cardamom in the water until fragrant and pods open up
  2. Turn heat down and add the frozen strawberries
  3. Cook on medium high until the strawberries start to lose their color and take a wooden spoon and smash the strawberries in the liquid
  4. Take off the heat and add your honeysuckles, peonies, and roses
  5. Cover and steep for about 30 minutes
  6. Strain the liquid from the petals, pressing as much liquid out as possible
  7. Add back to pan and add sugar and cook until syrupy
1/4 packet of Narbonne yeast
Floral syrup
3 cups concord grape juice
4 cups apple juice
2 1/2 cups water 

  1. In a small cup, add 1/4 cup of your floral syrup and 1/4 cup warm water.
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 packet of the yeast, about 1.5 tsp
  3. Cover and let this sit until you can see it bubble and it smells like it is fermenting.
  4. In a gallon carboy, add your grape juice, apple juice, and the floral syrup and mix well.
  5. Once the yeast mixture sits for 30min-1 hour, slowly add it to the jug with your juices and syrup.
  6. Put your airlock on and store in a cool place covered to keep light out.
After the first and second day of fermenting, take the airlock off and use a long stir stick to stir the mixture to let some of the gasses out. It will smell like sulfur but once mixing it up well, it will release it and will begin to smell like wine.

After about the 15th day, most of the fermentation should be finished.
At this point, you will need to add just a couple more things.

Racking Additions
1 cup Strawberry/White Cranberry juice
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp Da Vinci Raspberry syrup or similar

  1. Heat the juice and sugar until dissolved
  2. Once cooled, add to the wine followed by the raspberry syrup
  3. Mix well and put the airlock back on
  4. After a couple of days you can use your bentonite clay and potassium sorbate or whatever your go-to racking choices are
  5. Rack 1-2 times until completely de-gassed and clear then bottle it.

As previously mentioned, this wine is very complex and strong. So pairings should be kept light. This wine is best chilled and swirled in the glass a few times on a Spring or Summer day. Shelf life is quite long, I've had an opened bottle for about 3-6 months and it's still top quality stored at a cool temperature.
Peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler/pie, Brie, cream cheese, other soft/light cheese, pecans, pistachios, green apples, strawberries, grapefruit, peaches, raspberries, white grapes, spinach, avocado, turkey, chicken, prosciutto, salmon, bacon, basil, baguette, brown sugar, honey, caramel, mayonnaise, baklava, French pastries/desserts, macarons, and other light cakes or cookies.


  1. Such a cool idea! And very ambitious too! I live in a town that makes a lot of wine but very few people up here seem to get this creative. Brava! It looks delicious :)

  2. Looking at my opulent peony flowers I feel temptation to turn them into some kind of wine. So this recipe reassured me a little in my idea. I wonder however, if I really have to dry the petals, which are now sow beautiful and fragrant, and during drying I am afraid, they are going to lose some of their essential oils. Moreover, I think I'd like to experiment combining flowers of peony and black elder (they flower at the same time and fill my garden with their fragrance; I think I'd combine it with grape juice, as I found it an ingredient recommended for beginner wine-makers). Does this plan seem to have any sense?
    Thanks for any comment,