When gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out o' season. These days our hillsides are covered in gorse which, thanks to the warm spell we had in March, is in full bloom. Kissing's also in season, and so I embarked on making gorse wine. For years, the thought of pricked fingers from picking gorse flowers dissuaded me from making gorse wine. One evening at Coldhome I tasted Fi Thompson’s wine. Something absolutely heavenly hit my pallete. The wine had captured the essence of sunlight; warmed the heart. It also had magnificent and complex body. Wow! The sensation was like a long and tender kiss.
The next day I was out on the land, in a gorse patch, pulling at the flowers with my bare fingers. It was a zen sort of exercise that required total mindfulness, at all times. Inattention was punished by getting pricked, sore fingers. I picked the brightest bushes, those with large, rich flower clumps, pulled them off. The rain dribbled on me, but what the hell. After a couple of hours I had amassed at almost two gallons of flowers. No blood on the fingers either.
Fi sent me her recipe. Here it is.
1 gallon gorse flowers
3 lb. sugar
1 gallon water
Yeast; yeast nutrient
The best plan is to put your flowers in a calico bag, which can then be dropped into the water and simmered for a quarter of an hour, afterwards making up the water to the original quantity. When you remove the bag, squeeze it well to extract the liquor, and return this to the bulk. Then dissolve the sugar in the liquid, and add the lemon and orange juice, and the skins (no pith) of the fruit. Allow the liquor to cool to 70 degrees F.then add the yeast (a general-purpose wine yeast) or a level teaspoon of granulated yeast and yeast nutrient. Three days is sufficient a soaking period to extract colour and aroma, and for fermentation to get well under way, as long as the liquor is kept in a warm place (65-70 degrees F.), closely covered and given an occasional stir. Then strain it into a fermenting jar and fit an air lock and put it in a slightly cooler place. Siphon it off the lees when the top third has cleared (after two to three months) and again three months later. Put in a cooler place still (55 degrees F.); it will be ready to drink after another two months or so.
Apparently, with the bottle I tasted, Fi left her wine in the fermenting jar for five years before she noticed it there. All recipes emphasize the need to allow this wine the time to mature.
My mixture is in the fermenting jar, bubbling away. When Christmas rolls around, ask me how it tastes.