First (and maybe last) elderberry wine

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ChuckD

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Today I checked my elderberry wine and it had a FG of 0.994 and a pH of 3.49 so I racked it into a three-gallon carboy. It was only a 6-day ferment... not sure if that is short but the wild grape wine I started two days earlier is only at 1.025. To be honest it tastes like garbage but I'm not panicking yet because the recipe I used from Keller said it needs to age at least a year and maybe two.

The part that has me questioning ever trying this again is, of course, the cleanup :mad: :mad: :mad:. I probably spent two hours cleaning green goo off of everything... and by everything I mean the equipment and anything I may have accidentally touched while cleaning up equipment! including the bathtub and bathroom floor! That is some seriously sticky sh!t. By the end I had my process down... spray liberally with Pam, wipe with a paper towel, spray again and wipe with a new towel, spray again and wash with soap and water, then finish up with rubbing alcohol! I didn't even consider dealing with the straining bag... that one went straight in the trash.

This better be some seriously good wine.

Edited to add.
This was supposed to be in the beginner's forum because that's what I am. I would also like to thank everyone on this forum. I bought six wine making books prior to my first batch last year. I found this site about a week ago and I can honestly say I have learned more from this site than all of those books combined.

Thank you all!
 

Rice_Guy

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ALL wine tastes objectionable when it has just finished and yeasties are floating and dissolved CO2 is high.
Elderberry made in Concord grape is one of my favorite wines. The concord contributes aromatics/ fruity notes and acid. The elderberry contributes long lasting tannic/ bitter notes (flavor balance) ,,,, tannin is a weird animal. It complexes with itself and the flavor evolves changing from an initial bitter (small molecule) to an astringent (longer molecule) and eventually tasteless/ possibly as precipitate on the bottom of the bottle.
Today I checked my elderberry wine and it had a FG of 0.994 and a pH of 3.49 so I racked it into a three-gallon carboy. It was only a 6-day ferment... not sure if that is short but the wild grape wine I started two days earlier is only at 1.025. To be honest it tastes like garbage but I'm not panicking yet because the recipe I used from Keller said it needs to age at least a year and maybe two. . . . This better be some seriously good wine.
 

wine newbee

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Wow! A cautionary tale. I actually bought 2 e'berry plants a couple of years ago (before I even know what the plants looked like in the wild). Since I've seen them grow on my place, I've seen zillions of 'em all along ditches in rural areas. Could've saved the $30 I spent! I was thinking of trying to make the e'berry wine. Now .... pretty doubtful. The grape, honey and paw paw wines are probably enough ......

Mitch
 
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Rice_Guy

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@wine newbee if you have a European variety you should like the flavor more.

Interesting... do you know which cultivars you have? My American elders are 'Nova' and 'York'; I think the European one is 'Korsor', but I got it as a cutting from a local seed and scion exchange, so not 100% sure of its provenance. The European plant flowers earlier than the American ones, but is later to ripen - though that might be because it's in a more shady spot in the garden. The European plant also has a much more prominent floral bouquet - it seems to me that 'Nova' and 'York' flowers have almost no scent at all...
 
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As a beginner, I made Elderberry from bushes that grew on my parents property in Upstate NY. I hadn't made it in decades until I made a batch a few years ago from concentrate.

My d-in-l and her mother love the Elderberry, so I'm planning to make another batch, using a better concentrate. I discovered that elderberry grows in my area, but I don't have access to any.
 
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ChuckD

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I made mine from elderberry plants growing along my driveway. The clusters were up to 10” across and hanging to the ground this year. I couldn’t resist. I like to whine but my memory is short. Especially if the wine is good. If I see that kind of production again… who knows? But I’ll make it a five gallon batch. Cleanup is the same.
 
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But I’ll make it a five gallon batch. Cleanup is the same.
Make 10. It takes time to age and after waiting several years, 2 cases goes very quickly.

Do you have the same green goo problem from concentrate? How about dried berries?
I had no cleanup problems. However, I used Vintners Best, which includes apple and pear juice -- it's not pure elderberry. I didn't realize that until after I started the wine. That said, everyone liked it, so it was a success.

I've been looking for Vintner's Harvest, which is pure elderberry, but can't locate it. My LHBS said elderberry has gotten popular so he has a hard time getting it.
 

Scooter68

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I've been looking for Vintner's Harvest, which is pure elderberry, but can't locate it. My LHBS said elderberry has gotten popular so he has a hard time getting it.
Vintner's Harvest seems to have become harder to find of late (Last 18 months or so) Not sure why, perhaps a fall off in demand due to other brands that offer a blended concentrate? Personally I've had good luck with all the Vintner's Harvest I've tried other than just not caring as much for the taste of Red Raspberry.
 

ChuckD

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Make 10. It takes time to age and after waiting several years, 2 cases goes very quickly.
Your logic is unassailable :)

I haven’t made any one gallon batches for that very reason. Seems Like too much work for such little reward. In fact those three gallon carboys are looking mighty small now.
 
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I haven’t made any one gallon batches for that very reason. Seems Like too much work for such little reward. In fact those three gallon carboys are looking mighty small now.
Small batches are good for experimentation, especially when you are first starting out. But 5 bottles can go SOOOOOO fast it makes your head spin. For me anyway.

Although keep in mind that folks on this forum make wine in quantities of 1 gallon per year up to 200+ gallons. We have a lot of different interests, desires, and needs.

Overdoing it is a very real thing -- I did so when I first got into grape wines -- producing FAR more whites in 2 years than I could drink in 4. Even with a lot of willing friends, it was way too much wine. Other folkss have noted the same thing recently -- it's important to learn what you want, what you need, what you have capacity for -- and how these points are different.

At this time I'm making two ~20 gallon batches of my primary reds, plus another 20 to 40 gallons of other wines. I'm keeping an eye on my capacity to store bottles, as that is the overriding factor.
 

photoguy

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Am sorry to hear about your experience. I made elderberry wine last year for the first time and thankfuly avoided the green goo though I was expecting it. Bottled it less then a month ago and it turned out nice, soft flavor. Nothing I imagined it would be. So I'm happy with it. Would I do it again? Yes! Only this year was so dry the birds got all the berries even before they had time to rippen. I usually pick choke cherry, cranberies and elderberry and this year got none at all.
 

ChuckD

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I can see making small batches if you are experimenting. Right now, I'm just starting and have an empty cellar!! If I can get a couple hundred bottles in stock maybe I can dial it back a little (right). I'm having a lot of fun with the whole process of harvesting my own (or wild) fruits and producing a wine that, so far, other people actually want to drink. I don't think I'll be producing any hundred-gallon batches but getting a 20-gallon brute and making 10 gallons at a time sounds about right. Before I do that, I'm going to need to stock up on carboys and get a wine room that doesn't have a toilet in one corner and a shower in the other. As luck would have it, I'm putting an addition on the house next year and I'll have some new basement space to fill :D.
 

wine newbee

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@wine newbee if you have a European variety you should like the flavor more.
Hi -- no idea as to the varietal(s); the guy I bought them from (at the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh) had just dug some up from a roadside ditch. Which is what I should've done -- had I researched and found exactly what the plants looked like, and their standard habitats ....
 

Newbie Mel

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I would like to try Elderberry and think I have some growing on my property. However my mother in-law says they are poke berries and poisonous! Any tips on identifying the difference between elderberry and poke berry?
 
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Any tips on identifying the difference between elderberry and poke berry?
I found a page on Mother Earth Living that has videos showing how to tell the difference:


The fruit and stems are different, as elderberry are the size of BB's while pokeberry are larger.

Elderberry:

elderberry.jpg


Pokeberry:

pokeberry.jpg
 

wine newbee

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And from what I understand, e-berries have to be "processed" -- not a good idea to eat them in their natural form. That should go for using them in making wine, too -- I'm guessing.
 

Malach58

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Today I checked my elderberry wine and it had a FG of 0.994 and a pH of 3.49 so I racked it into a three-gallon carboy. It was only a 6-day ferment... not sure if that is short but the wild grape wine I started two days earlier is only at 1.025. To be honest it tastes like garbage but I'm not panicking yet because the recipe I used from Keller said it needs to age at least a year and maybe two.

The part that has me questioning ever trying this again is, of course, the cleanup :mad: :mad: :mad:. I probably spent two hours cleaning green goo off of everything... and by everything I mean the equipment and anything I may have accidentally touched while cleaning up equipment! including the bathtub and bathroom floor! That is some seriously sticky sh!t. By the end I had my process down... spray liberally with Pam, wipe with a paper towel, spray again and wipe with a new towel, spray again and wash with soap and water, then finish up with rubbing alcohol! I didn't even consider dealing with the straining bag... that one went straight in the trash.

This better be some seriously good wine.

Edited to add.
This was supposed to be in the beginner's forum because that's what I am. I would also like to thank everyone on this forum. I bought six wine making books prior to my first batch last year. I found this site about a week ago and I can honestly say I have learned more from this site than all of those books combined.

Thank you all!
I’ve read a lot about the “goo”, so I buy the dried elderberries. Actually got a 5# bag recently from Austin Homebrew on a discount sale. My favorite combinations are an Eldeberry-BlackBerry Port, and a Eldeberry-Raisin Port style. I’m not a fan at f it dry, I backsweeten it with honey if I make any. 🍷
 

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