How to make elderberry wine

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Things You'll 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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