Lessons Learned from Dandelion Wine

by: Heather on 04/13/2010
Posted in: Food

In the heat of last summer, I surveyed our extremely prodigious dandelion crop and was possessed with the urge to turn weeds into wine. A little time on the internet yielded a recipe that would take care of the dregs of our rhubarb as well, and a mission was born. A couple of hot, sunny summer afternoons were whiled away plucking and collecting scores (and I do mean scores) of fluffy, yellow heads. Then a few sessions of boiling and mashing and racking, all in happy anticipation of turning these rampant weeds into cool crisp wine to be enjoyed in the spring.

Well spring has sprung, and last night was the night. With all due ceremony the wine was chilled, decanted, sniffed, and savoured - yech! Total failure. It turns out that my precious dandelion wine tastes, in fact, like a mouthful of dandelions. Quelle disappointment! My partner and I ceremonially dumped our glasses down the sink. Oh well.

So why am I writing about this? Who cares? It's easy to see what this story would have to do with sustainability if the wine had been a success - it would have been a great use of plentiful resources and an excellent exercise in food (or at least beverage) security. But it wasn't a success. It was a failure.

I think though, that in our personal search for sustainability, it is just as important to think about our failures as it is to celebrate our successes. Because let's face it, if you're like most of us, you will have many, many failures (and hopefully a few successes too). How do you react to your failure? Do you let it stop you in your tracks? Or do you accept it and carry on? Do you take a lesson from each defeat that you can apply to the next time you try, in order to increase your chance of success? How about coming up with a creative use for the product of your initial botched effort? At the very least, do you make a good story out of it? How do you celebrate your failure?

Thinking about this, and about my dandelion rhubarb wine, I decided on a new project. Coming up in three months, just in time for summer salad season, my very own dandelion rhubarb vinegar! And if it tastes awful on my salads, them maybe I can use it to clean my windows...

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