I had intended to make Maitrank according to a traditional French recipe. You take a sweet white wine, add some dried sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), leave to infuse for a few weeks and then serve well chilled on a hot summer’s day – May Day to be more precise. Alas, I couldn’t find any and didn’t have time to go up to my friend’s wood in Inverness that is liberally covered with the pretty leaves. Nevertheless, it occurred to me that, as a general principle, infusing flowers and herbs into wine is a fantastic hassle free way to make a country wine – all the colour and flavour without all the potential wine-making mishaps and initial investment in equipment. Lazy! Simple! Fun!
Below then is a recipe for Chamomile infused wine but you could equally use all sorts of things: fennel, alexanders, lime blossom, elderflower, rose petals, meadowsweet or honey flowers for instance.
- One large handful of fresh chamomile (Chamaelelum nobile) or Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) or even the
related Scented Mayweed (Matricaria recutita) and Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea).
- One bottle of delicately flavoured white wine. I usually prefer super dry wines but sweet works best with flower infusions.
- 0-2 tablespoons sugar (depending on taste and original sweetness of the wine).
- On a dry sunny day collect a large handful of flowers.
- Hang up indoors to completely dry out for a few days or spread out on newspaper and leave in a warm dry place. An airing cupboard is ideal.
- Once dried, tip a small amount of wine from the bottle to make some room for the sugar and flowers.
- First add the sugar and shake until it’s all dissolved, then carefully – so you don’t break them all up, add all the flowers to the wine.
- Leave on a sunny windowsill for 2-3 days before chilling and serving.
- Use a tea strainer or hold a piece of muslin tightly over the top to filter out the flower parts as you pour.