Wine Making Season Commences
Gorse flower is around for much of the year but between March & May when the sun shines on the gorse flowers you may be lucky enough to fill your nostrils with the pleasing aroma of coconut. Its interesting because today, when I was out picking it, the smell reminded me of those sun lotions my mum used to apply. I can't say I was much of a lover of sun lotion - I'm still not, but the smell stuck with me.
It wasn't until I went to read up on the chemical constituents of Gorse that something very interesting was discovered. Gorse flower contains carotenes which are the most important of the carotenoid vitamin A precursors. Whilst used commercially as a food colouring for fats such as margarine it is also used as a sunscreen agent to prevent the photosensitivity reaction of erythropoeitic protoporphyria (Hoffmann, D., 2003 "Medical Herbalism"). It makes me wonder if the commercial suncream had any coconut in it at all.... Perhaps the cheaper gorse-flower was a suitable and cheaper alternative. I might have to go hunt some labels in my local pharmacy next week.
I confess it wasn't for medicine I went picking some of these wondefully bright and abundant flower petals. We have some family members staying with us at present and my brother-in-law is particularly interested in my brewing history. I promised to introduce him to the wonders of country wines. Where better to start than with a delightfully sustainable and palatable Gorse Wine. It is normally the first country wine of year I tend to make, usually in conjunction with some Dandelion. Gorse is by far the preferred wine of the two and I confess I am a little late to start this year so I've religated Dandelion for another time.
Next on the agenda for my brother-in-law will be an introduction to Nettle Beer. With a two week turnaround - he might still be here to enjoy the end result. Gorse, I'm afraid, may just have to be enjoyed by myself as it takes a year to mature. Oh, what a shame!
At the end of the week strain off must into a demi-john and fit an air-lock and wait 2-3 months. Rack off the wine into a second demi-john when it stops bubbling and bottle when clear for a nice dry wine. I'm not a lover of sweet wines; if you like it sweeter you may need to add more sugar after opening.
Its a bit of a waiting game, I'm afraid. It will need bottled for another 9-10 months before enjoying this one. The only up-side is that next year when you go out foraging for gorse you will be able to come home and open up a bottle to treat yourself for all that hard work.
If you are not that patient I refer you to the wonderful John Wrigth of River Cottage fame. He suggests a gorse rum infusion. That should be ready in just 2 days. Add a handful of gorse, a tsp sugar and half a litre of white rum, wait two days and you blessed with a lovely infusion. Personally, I preferred the pommegranate rum much better than the gorse rum - but that's not to say I have any left of the gorse rum to share! Not that my bar is particularly high!.