Please note, this is only the recipe part of my Post “A Very Fine Elderberry Wine Recipe”. I Have Added it to the “Recipe” section, for ease of use, and to make it easy to print. There is a lot of supporting information in the Post. I suggest you peruse it before you attempt to make this very fine Elderberry wine. Here is a link https://apothecarysgarden.com/my-recipe-for-a-very-fine-elderberry-wine/
A RECIPE FOR A VERY FINE ELDERBERRY WINE
For every gallon of wine you wish to make,You will need–
- Juicy ripe Elderberries,1/2 gallon, (2 liters volume),
- 1 Kilogram of white sugar, 4 cups.
- Approximately 1 to 2 cups volume, Wild grapes, you can add more if you think it needs more acid or tannin. Explore. If it tastes great as a juice, it will likely taste great as a wine.
- 4 liters of water
- Sodium Metabisuphite for sterilizing ALL tools and vessels before use. (instructions for use are included at time of purchase). Can also be used as a preservative for finished products if this interests you.
- 20 grams dried Wild ginger pieces, or 75 grams fresh Wild Ginger rhizomes, scrubbed clean.
- A package of yeast, (usually good for 20 liters or 5 gallons of wine), either speciality yeast used for wild or floral wines, or a grape wine yeast of your choice, or simply any bread yeast you come across or like.
- Some yeast nutrient. It really helps, if you ever feel things have slowed down prematurely, or stopped, and your yeast is not happy, healthy or working hard transforming your sugar. If you need to kickstart a primary fermentation that has stopped, or if you want to give your yeast a boost to reduce sugar and increase alcohol, yeast nutrient can work wonders.
- 5-10 cloves for flavour.
- One or two 15 liter food grade plastic buckets, depending on how much wine you are making. These are available at all home wine making supply stores.
- A narrow mouthed glass jug, carboy or demi-john for secondary fermentation.
- Glass wine bottles that accept standard sized corks or screw on caps.
- Of course, closures of your choice as described above.
Method and Process
- For every 2 liters volume, ( 1/2 Gallon), of fresh ripe Elderberries, add 2 cups, or 500 ml. of Wild Grapes. The flavour, tartness, and the acidity of your finished wine will be evident in the juice you are preparing now. You can adjust this according to your own taste and experience.
- mush up all berries after measuring and prior to boiling.
- Boil 4 liters, (1 Gallon) of water and set aside 4 cups ,( 1 kilogram) of white sugar.
- Add fresh or frozen fruit to the water and boil for 20-30 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let sit till it is cool enough to handle.
- Pour liquid through a pillowcase or layered cheesecloth.
- Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the berries, then either compost the residue or return it to the land.
- Put your juice in a large pot, bring back to a boil, add sugar, cloves and wild ginger, or more wild grapes or wild grape juice, (if you think you need any more.), and bring to a boil. This is your first opportunity to taste and test your wine, to make any adjustments, (if you think you need to adjust anything). If you make a “sachet”, a cloth or cheesecloth bag with the spices or extra,(smushed), grapes inside it, you will not need to filter it again before primary fermentation. As I mentioned earlier, If it tastes great as a juice, it will likely taste great as a wine.
- Simmer for 20 minutes, let it cool till it is comfortable to handle, remove and squeeze out your sachet, (into the juice).
- Pour the warm juice into a food grade plastic bucket, (or two, depending how much you are making. (These are also available at wine supply stores).
- In a separate cup, jar or container add 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 1/2 cup warm juice. Stir in the yeast and wait for it to activate, froth, foam or bubble. When the yeast is nicely active, stir it into the sterilized bucket or buckets with your juice. If I end up having more than one bucket worth of wine, I will split the yeast mixture evenly between them.
- Cover with cheesecloth or towel to keep bugs out and allow air into the bucket. I use a large elastic band or two that fit the circumference of the bucket and hold the towel in place so it does not sag into the wine and contaminate it.
- Your wine should start fizzing within 24 hours. If it does not, repeat the yeast mixing process, and after stirring your yeast into the juice, add a teaspoon of yeast nutrient to kick start it.
- Leave it undisturbed for 1-6 weeks in a warmish place to work.
- When it ceases to make a fizzing or hissing sound then it is time to “rack” it to a sterile glass container and put an airlock on it for its secondary fermentation. (Or a balloon pulled over the mouth of the vessel poked with a pin a few times), See Dandelion wine recipe.
- After racking, siphoning off all the clear liquid, put it in a dark cool place for secondary fermentation. A basement is usually good. Let it sit for 2-4 weeks undisturbed.
- Rack it again to another sterile vessel or carboy, leaving the must undisturbed on the bottom of the carboy. Racking is one of the points in the process where you sacrifice some of the liquid, in case you wondered how 6 liters of the original liquid ended up being only 4 liters of wine.
- At this point you could let it sit undisturbed for another 2-3 weeks then siphon it directly into sterile wine bottles, cork the bottles after boiling the corks for 20 minutes, (using an upside down plate to hold the corks under the boiling water, they will want to float on top). Set it aside till December at the earliest. One year is considered by many to be the ideal amount of time for Elderberry wine to mature. Some people will rack their wine 4 or 5 times before bottling, separating the yeast smelling must from the wine. I prefer 2-4 rackings, 3-4 weeks apart. Some will run it through a vaccuum or pressure filtering system before bottling. Some lay their bottles on their sides to keep the corks moist, others just stand them up, your choice. There is a lot of information on DIY winemaking online, take advantage of it. It is always best to enter a project with as much understanding of the process as possible.
Good Luck! And remember to always take clear and legible notes. Your future self will thank you!!
Please feel free to leave me a note in the comments section if you have any questions at all. I am happy to hear from you and promise to get back to you.