How to make elderberry wine

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How to make elderberry wine
Elderberries can be used to make wine. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Elderberry plants are shrubs or small trees in the Sambucus genus. Up to 30 species exist, but wine is usually made from the Blackberry Elder (Sambucus melanocarpa) or the Red-berried Elder (Sambucus racemosa.) Elderberry wine is one of the few fruit wines that actually resembles wine made from grapes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1.4 kg (3 lbs) ripe elderberries
  • 910 g (2 lbs) fine sugar
  • 4 litres (3 1/2 qts) water
  • 12 ml (2 tsp) acid blend
  • 6 ml (1 tsp) yeast nutrient
  • 3 ml (1/2 tsp) pectic enzyme
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • Montrachet wine yeast

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  1. 1

    Wash the elderberries and remove the stems while rejecting the unsuitable ones. Boil the water and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Put the berries in a nylon straining bag, tie it and place it in the first container.

  2. 2

    Mash the elderberries while wearing sterilised rubber gloves. Pour the boiling sugar water over them and cover. When this mixture has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, add the acid blend, crushed Campden tablet and yeast nutrient.

  3. 3

    Cover the primary container and wait for 12 hours. Stir in the pectic enzyme, cover the primary container once again and wait another 12 hours before adding the yeast.

  4. 4

    Stir daily for 14 days and gently squeeze the bag while wearing sterile gloves, re-covering the container each time. Drip drain the elderberries without squeezing and add this juice to the primary container. Rack the wine into a second container and fit an airlock.

  5. 5

    Store in a dark place and ferment for two months. Rack the wine again, top up and refit the airlock. Repeat this step two more times.

  6. 6

    Stabilise the wine and wait for 10 days. Rack the wine again, sweeten to taste and pour into bottles. Store the containers in a dark place for one year.

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