Wine can be made from fruit, herbs, flowers and pretty much anything edible that grows in gardens and hedgerows
You can also make a homemade wine from marrows. Or beetroots. Or carrots. Or celery. Or from weeds such as dandelion flowers, nettles, or bramble tips. Or even from herbs; sage leaves, for example, can be used to make a white wine, as can those of parsley, salad burnet or lemon thyme (one of the most surprisingly delicious homemade white wines that I sampled at my neighbour’s house was made from ginger).
Truth be told, you can make wine from pretty much anything that grows in your garden or can be foraged from local hedgerows, just as long as it tastes pleasant, and isn’t poisonous or a protected species. This includes primroses, pansies, wallflowers, marigolds, honeysuckle, rose petals, rowan berries, and gorse, whose yellow, coconut-scented flowers are prickly to pick but make a beautifully fragrant wine.
You can even use the sap of sycamore, walnut or birch trees, so long as you’re careful to take it in spring in small amounts from mature trees, to only bore to just beyond the bark and to carefully plug the hole afterwards (birch sap wine was supposedly a particular favourite of Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria).
Just don’t expect any of these homemade wines to taste like one made of grapes, a not uncommon preconception of many people sampling them for the first time. Because to do that, as my winemaking neighbour says, “is like expecting fish to taste like meat”.
Be warned, also, that the art of making good wine doesn’t belong to the more intuitive “a pinch of this, a sprinkle of that” style of cookery. Instead, there is a science to it. Use a good reference book, (my neighbour recommends C.J.J. Berry’s First Steps in Winemaking), while online blogs such as Two Thirsty Gardeners, whose “digging and swigging through the seasons” tag is hard to resist – are also well worth reading. For equipment, check out online Irish suppliers such as HomeBrewWest (homebrewwest.ie) or homebrew.ie, which deliver countrywide and stock everything from demi-johns, carboys and corkers to sterilisers, additives and the different yeasts which affect the body and flavour of the wine.
Finally, be patient. The fact is that just like gardens, homemade wines are one of those things that improve hugely with time. With the odd exception.