How to Make Elderberry Wine

Over in the UK, elderberries are one of the most common fruits used to make wine. Wine is traditionally made using grapes, but these aren’t easily accessible in the UK.

So, other fruits have been used to make this delicious alcoholic beverage. Elderberries have always been a popular choice in the UK as this type of fruit is readily available. 

Elderberries are also great for making wine with. They have very similar qualities to grapes, which is why they are so often substituted.

Elderberries have a delicious taste, and ferment excellently in the process of making wine. Once fermented, elderberry wine has a deep red color, and the process of making elderberry wine is actually fairly effortless. 

So, if you want to give a different kind of wine a go, then elderberry wine is a good choice. In this guide, we’ll be telling you absolutely everything you need to know about elderberry wine before making it. 

What is Elderberry Wine?

As its name suggests, elderberry wine is wine that is made using elderberries. The elderberry fruit is essentially a cousin of the grape, which is why this fruit makes such excellent wine.

Due to their rich color, elderberries produce a deep red wine that looks very expensive when it is poured in a glass. But, elderberries are a lot less sweet than grapes, so when you are producing this type of wine you must add additional sugar into it.

But once it has fermented, this wine tastes simply wonderful, so let’s take a look at how you go about making it. 

Finding your Elderberries

Before we take a look at how to make elderberry wine, we first need to discuss how you get your hands on elderberries. While they are abundant in the UK, they actually aren’t easy to buy.

And it is even more difficult to get your hands on elderberries in the USA. In the UK, elderberries aren’t really sold in grocery stores, so instead you must go foraging for elderberries if you want to use them to make wine.

In the USA, you will need to do the same thing. So, where can you go to find elderberries?

Elderberries are actually fairly easy to find. They are small dark purple berries that can be found in shrubbery. They are easy to spot as they hang in umbrella shaped clusters across the bushes, and are ripe between August and October every year.

Of course, you shouldn’t go foraging for elderberries unprepared, and it is very important that you take a very-detailed identification guide along with you.

Once you locate your elderberries, you can simply snip the clusters away from the bushes using a pair of scissors. As they are found in clusters, foraging for elderberries shouldn’t take very long once you locate and identify them. 

Everything you Need 

So, now that you know all about how to find elderberries, let’s take a look at everything else you need to make elderberry wine. Here’s a handy list to help you. 

Equipment you will need:

  • Potato masher
  • Airlock and bung
  • Siphon
  • Large pan
  • Straining bag
  • Small fermenting bucket
  • Demijohn

Ingredients you will need:

  • 4.5 liters of water
  • 1.1 kg of sugar
  • 1.2 kg of elderberries
  • 1tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 sachet of yeast 
  • 2tsp acid blend
  • 1 Campden tablet
  • ½ tsp pectic enzyme

Once you have gathered everything that you need to make your elderberry wine, then you can get started. Keep on reading if you want to find out how to proceed. 

How to make Elderberry Wine: The Recipe

Now that you have gathered all the equipment and ingredients that you need to make your elderberry wine, then you can get started. Follow these steps carefully if you want to make perfect elderberry wine. 

First things first, you will need to take your pan and fill it with water. You should then bring the water to a boil on the stove of your cooker.

Once the water begins to boil, you should add your sugar and stir it into the water until it dissolves. After it has dissolved, you should then bring the sugar/water mixture to a boil for a minute before switching off the heat. 

In the meantime, you can take the elderberries that you cleaned and prepared earlier, and place them in a straining bag. You should then place the straining bag inside the fermenting bucket.

After that, you can then take your potato masher, and begin to crush the elderberries inside the bucket. Please note that elderberries are very dark, and they will stain.

So, you should wear old clothes, and be prepared for your straining bag to become stained in the process. 

You should then take the sugar/water mixture that you have just boiled, and pour it over your crushed elderberries. While doing this, you should continue stirring the elderberries throughout.

After that, you should leave the mixture to cool for a couple of hours, before adding the yeast nutrient, crushed Campden tablet, and acid blend into the mixture before stirring thoroughly.

You should then cover the bucket and secure it with the airlock and leave the mixture for 12 hours. 

Once the 12 hours have passed, you should add the pectic enzyme mix and stir it in thoroughly before leaving it for a further 24 hours. When those 24 hours have passed, you should add the yeast onto the surface of the mixture. Don’t stir it, simply refit the airlock, then wait for fermentation to start. 

During the first week of fermentation, you should stir the mixture daily. Then, after 2 weeks, you should lift out the straining bag and let the wine drain from the bag.

Leave this wine to settle for a day, then siphon the wine into the demijohn. You should then allow the wine to condition for between 3-4 months, and after this it should be ready to drink. 

Summary

In short, this is a complete guide to how to make elderberry wine. We’ve included all the ingredients that you need, and the method to follow if you want to make delicious elderberry wine. 

Christina Day
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