Wild Elderberry Wine

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jtstar

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Author Jack Keller
Issue Apr/May 2009
Taming the Wild Elderberry

A Basic Elderberry Wine Recipe
This is a tried and true basic recipe for making a gallon (3.8 L) of elderberry wine. It will have good body and color and will not be too tannic unless you exceed the amount of berries specified or use very small berries – 1⁄8 to 1⁄6 inch (0.3–0.4 cm) in diameter.

Ingredient
3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg) elderberries
3.0 quarts (~3 L) boiling water
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) granulated sugar
12-oz. (355-mL) can red grape
concentrate (Welch’s, Old Orchard)
juice of 1 medium lemon
juice of 2 small oranges

1 tsp. yeast nutrient
2 Campden tablets
1⁄2 tsp. potassium sorbate
oak beans (optional)
1 sachet Red Star Pasteur Red, Lalvin
R2 or Gervin No. 1 Green Label wine yeast

Step by Step
Wearing rubber gloves, pour berries into a nylon straining bag in a primary fermentation vessel and tie the bag closed. If fresh or thawed berries, use the flat bottom of a wine bottle or a sanitized piece of hardwood to crush them; do not press hard enough to crush the seeds. Add grape concentrate, juice of the lemon and oranges, the yeast nutrient and sugar. Pour boiling water over everything and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover the primary. Make a yeast starter solution and hydrate the yeast while the water in the primary cools to below 90 °F (32 °C). Add activated yeast starter and re-cover the primary. Stir daily for three days, deflating straining bag if necessary. Lift bag, squeeze lightly (remember those rubber gloves) and discard pulp or save for a second run wine. Re-cover the primary and set aside one more day, then transfer liquid to a secondary. Liquid will be shy a full gallon. Affix an airlock and wait for vigorous fermentation to subside. If you intend to add oak beans, this would be a good time to do it. Add a finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, top up if needed and wait three weeks. Rack, transfer the oak beans if used, top up, and reattach the airlock. Wait for the wine to fall clear and then wait an additional month — or until oaking is finished. Rack, stabilize wine with potassium sorbate and finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, sweeten to taste if desired and reattach airlock. Wait 30 days and if no new fermentation or new sediment is evident go ahead and bottle. Wait a minimum of 6 months before drinking. Wine will continue to improve for several years.

Making a Second Run Elderberry Rosé

If you kept the pulp from the wine above, you can make a gallon (3.8 L) of second run wine in a dry rosé style. After this wine matures, drink it within two years.

Ingredients
Elderberry pulp from first wine
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) fully ripe bananas
12-oz. (355-mL) can white grape concentrate
(Welch’s, Old Orchard, etc.)
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) granulated sugar
2 Campden tablets
1⁄2 tsp. potassium sorbate
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
2 tsp. citric acid
Lalvin RC212 or any Burgundy wine yeast

Step by Step
Bring 2 quarts (2 L) of water to boil. Meanwhile, place elderberry pulp (in nylon straining bag) in the primary fermentation vessel and add sugar and grape concentrate in primary. Pour boiling water over contents of primary and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover primary. Put another quart plus one pint of water on to boil. Cut bananas, skins and all, into 1⁄2 inch slices and add to boiling water. Cover pot and boil for 25 minutes. Skim any scum off water and strain to remove fruit. Add banana liquid to primary and re-cover primary. When cooled to room temperature, stir in citric acid and yeast nutrients and activated yeast, re-cover primary, and set aside. Stir twice daily for 2 days – 3 if additional color requires it. Remove straining bag, squeeze lightly, transfer to secondary, add one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, top up if required, and fit airlock. Rack every 60 days until wine falls clear and no sediments form during 30-day period. Stabilize with potassium sorbate and one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and bottle this wine dry. Allow to age one year.

Dried Elderberry Wine
There are two times when dried elderberries are welcome – when wild elderberries do not grow locally and when wild elderberries are out of season. In both cases, dried elderberries can be used for winemaking. You can buy dried elderberries from most winemaking shops or pick plenty of wild ones and dry them in a dehydrator. This recipe makes one gallon (3.8 L) of wine.

Ingredients
4–5.25 ounces (110–150 g) dried elderberries
2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) sugar
7 pts. (3.3 L) water
12-oz. (355-mL) can of red grape concentrate
(Welch’s, Old Orchard, etc.)
2 tsp. acid blend
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
Montrachet yeast
(or other general purpose yeast)

Step by Step
Bring water to a boil and add sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and water clear. Wash the dried elderberries and put in a nylon straining bag with several marbles for weight. Tie the bag closed and put in the primary fermentation vessel. Pour the boiling sugar-water over elderberries and cover the primary. When cool, stir in one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, yeast nutrient and acid blend until dissolved. Re-cover the primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated wine yeast in a starter solution and ferment until the specific gravity drops to 1.010, stirring and squeezing the bag daily. (Remember the rubber gloves, to protect your hands from the pigments.) Transfer liquid to a secondary, attach an airlock and ferment to dryness. Rack every 30 days until wine clears and doesn’t drop even a dusting of lees over a 30-day period. Bottle and wait at least 3 months to enjoy. This wine will improve with age.

Elderflower Wine
The white or whitish-yellow flowers of all species and varieties of elder are pleasantly fragrant and impart a Muscat-like flavor. They are also edible and can be fried in fritter batter, added to pancake or muffin batter, cooked into pies and tarts, and added fresh to salads or many other food dishes. However, many would say they are best made into wine.
Elderflower wine is an acquired taste and not appreciated by everyone. Too many flowers will yield an almost undrinkable wine, so do not exceed the amount in the one-gallon (3.8-L) recipe below. This wine is great served chilled on a hot afternoon.

Ingredients
1.25 pt. (0.56 L) fresh elderflowers
12-oz. (355-mL) can white grape juice concentrate
(Welch’s, Old Orchard, etc.)
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) granulated sugar
2 tsp. acid blend
7 pts. (3.3 L) water
2 Campden tablets
1⁄2 tsp. potassium sorbate
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
your favorite white wine yeast

Step by Step
Thaw grape juice concentrate and put water on to boil. While water rises to a boil, separate flowers from stalks and wash to remove insects and dust. Put flowers, sugar and grape juice concentrate in the primary fermentation vessel and pour boiling water over them. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover primary, and set aside several hours until cool. Add acid blend, one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and yeast nutrient. Stir briefly. Re-cover the primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated yeast in a starter solution. Ferment six days, strain off flowers, pour liquid into secondary, and attach an airlock. Rack when specific gravity is at 1.005, top up and refit the airlock. After additional three months, stabilize with potassium sorbate and finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, sweeten to taste, wait 30 days, rack if needed or bottle. Age four to six months before tasting.
 

Brigitte

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Increasing the recipe?

Author Jack Keller
Issue Apr/May 2009
Taming the Wild Elderberry

A Basic Elderberry Wine Recipe
This is a tried and true basic recipe for making a gallon (3.8 L) of elderberry wine. It will have good body and color and will not be too tannic unless you exceed the amount of berries specified or use very small berries – 1⁄8 to 1⁄6 inch (0.3–0.4 cm) in diameter.

Ingredient
3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg) elderberries
3.0 quarts (~3 L) boiling water
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) granulated sugar
12-oz. (355-mL) can red grape
concentrate (Welch’s, Old Orchard)
juice of 1 medium lemon
juice of 2 small oranges

1 tsp. yeast nutrient
2 Campden tablets
1⁄2 tsp. potassium sorbate
oak beans (optional)
1 sachet Red Star Pasteur Red, Lalvin
R2 or Gervin No. 1 Green Label wine yeast

Step by Step
Wearing rubber gloves, pour berries into a nylon straining bag in a primary fermentation vessel and tie the bag closed. If fresh or thawed berries, use the flat bottom of a wine bottle or a sanitized piece of hardwood to crush them; do not press hard enough to crush the seeds. Add grape concentrate, juice of the lemon and oranges, the yeast nutrient and sugar. Pour boiling water over everything and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover the primary. Make a yeast starter solution and hydrate the yeast while the water in the primary cools to below 90 °F (32 °C). Add activated yeast starter and re-cover the primary. Stir daily for three days, deflating straining bag if necessary. Lift bag, squeeze lightly (remember those rubber gloves) and discard pulp or save for a second run wine. Re-cover the primary and set aside one more day, then transfer liquid to a secondary. Liquid will be shy a full gallon. Affix an airlock and wait for vigorous fermentation to subside. If you intend to add oak beans, this would be a good time to do it. Add a finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, top up if needed and wait three weeks. Rack, transfer the oak beans if used, top up, and reattach the airlock. Wait for the wine to fall clear and then wait an additional month — or until oaking is finished. Rack, stabilize wine with potassium sorbate and finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, sweeten to taste if desired and reattach airlock. Wait 30 days and if no new fermentation or new sediment is evident go ahead and bottle. Wait a minimum of 6 months before drinking. Wine will continue to improve for several years.

Making a Second Run Elderberry Rosé

If you kept the pulp from the wine above, you can make a gallon (3.8 L) of second run wine in a dry rosé style. After this wine matures, drink it within two years.

Ingredients
Elderberry pulp from first wine
1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) fully ripe bananas
12-oz. (355-mL) can white grape concentrate
(Welch’s, Old Orchard, etc.)
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) granulated sugar
2 Campden tablets
1⁄2 tsp. potassium sorbate
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
2 tsp. citric acid
Lalvin RC212 or any Burgundy wine yeast

Step by Step
Bring 2 quarts (2 L) of water to boil. Meanwhile, place elderberry pulp (in nylon straining bag) in the primary fermentation vessel and add sugar and grape concentrate in primary. Pour boiling water over contents of primary and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover primary. Put another quart plus one pint of water on to boil. Cut bananas, skins and all, into 1⁄2 inch slices and add to boiling water. Cover pot and boil for 25 minutes. Skim any scum off water and strain to remove fruit. Add banana liquid to primary and re-cover primary. When cooled to room temperature, stir in citric acid and yeast nutrients and activated yeast, re-cover primary, and set aside. Stir twice daily for 2 days – 3 if additional color requires it. Remove straining bag, squeeze lightly, transfer to secondary, add one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, top up if required, and fit airlock. Rack every 60 days until wine falls clear and no sediments form during 30-day period. Stabilize with potassium sorbate and one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and bottle this wine dry. Allow to age one year.

Dried Elderberry Wine
There are two times when dried elderberries are welcome – when wild elderberries do not grow locally and when wild elderberries are out of season. In both cases, dried elderberries can be used for winemaking. You can buy dried elderberries from most winemaking shops or pick plenty of wild ones and dry them in a dehydrator. This recipe makes one gallon (3.8 L) of wine.

Ingredients
4–5.25 ounces (110–150 g) dried elderberries
2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) sugar
7 pts. (3.3 L) water
12-oz. (355-mL) can of red grape concentrate
(Welch’s, Old Orchard, etc.)
2 tsp. acid blend
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
Montrachet yeast
(or other general purpose yeast)

Step by Step
Bring water to a boil and add sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and water clear. Wash the dried elderberries and put in a nylon straining bag with several marbles for weight. Tie the bag closed and put in the primary fermentation vessel. Pour the boiling sugar-water over elderberries and cover the primary. When cool, stir in one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, yeast nutrient and acid blend until dissolved. Re-cover the primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated wine yeast in a starter solution and ferment until the specific gravity drops to 1.010, stirring and squeezing the bag daily. (Remember the rubber gloves, to protect your hands from the pigments.) Transfer liquid to a secondary, attach an airlock and ferment to dryness. Rack every 30 days until wine clears and doesn’t drop even a dusting of lees over a 30-day period. Bottle and wait at least 3 months to enjoy. This wine will improve with age.

Elderflower Wine
The white or whitish-yellow flowers of all species and varieties of elder are pleasantly fragrant and impart a Muscat-like flavor. They are also edible and can be fried in fritter batter, added to pancake or muffin batter, cooked into pies and tarts, and added fresh to salads or many other food dishes. However, many would say they are best made into wine.
Elderflower wine is an acquired taste and not appreciated by everyone. Too many flowers will yield an almost undrinkable wine, so do not exceed the amount in the one-gallon (3.8-L) recipe below. This wine is great served chilled on a hot afternoon.

Ingredients
1.25 pt. (0.56 L) fresh elderflowers
12-oz. (355-mL) can white grape juice concentrate
(Welch’s, Old Orchard, etc.)
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) granulated sugar
2 tsp. acid blend
7 pts. (3.3 L) water
2 Campden tablets
1⁄2 tsp. potassium sorbate
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
your favorite white wine yeast

Step by Step
Thaw grape juice concentrate and put water on to boil. While water rises to a boil, separate flowers from stalks and wash to remove insects and dust. Put flowers, sugar and grape juice concentrate in the primary fermentation vessel and pour boiling water over them. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover primary, and set aside several hours until cool. Add acid blend, one finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and yeast nutrient. Stir briefly. Re-cover the primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add activated yeast in a starter solution. Ferment six days, strain off flowers, pour liquid into secondary, and attach an airlock. Rack when specific gravity is at 1.005, top up and refit the airlock. After additional three months, stabilize with potassium sorbate and finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet, sweeten to taste, wait 30 days, rack if needed or bottle. Age four to six months before tasting.
I am wanting to make the basic elderberry wine recipe but I want to end up with 5 gallons. Do I just add 5 times all the ingredients? Seems like I recall when increasing recipes you don't increase the yeast?
thanks.
brigitte
 

salcoco

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increase everything but the yeast, normal yeast is one gram per gallon, a small packet is 5 grams.
 

Julie

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And I would use more elderberries than what is called for. Nothing less than 4 pounds per gallon but 5 gives you a real nice wine.
 

jtstar

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Yes I am aware of your site and I love looking at your elderberry plants I would love to have plants like them some day
 

Brigitte

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Some more modern recipes on our elderberry winemaking webpage:) WVMJack

thanks WVMJack. I will head over there right now! my elderberries are all of the wild variety that I can find on the farm. I picked a few last night. the berries are falling off a little ..but they seem kind of small. we have not had much rain in the past month. I am not sure if they will be good for wine making or not?
 

Brigitte

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Thanks for all the help to everyone who replied to my question. I really appreciate it!
brigitte
 

WVMountaineerJack

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Why wouldnt they be good? If they have some juice in them they are good. Our absolute favorite is to dry the berries, make them into a mead with a little oak, quite a bold wonderful drink. Our berries have had some problems, 2 years ago a blight got the flowers, then last year the spotted drosophila got the fruit, this year leaf legged bugs ate a bunch but left us enough I hope to pick. WVMJ

thanks WVMJack. I will head over there right now! my elderberries are all of the wild variety that I can find on the farm. I picked a few last night. the berries are falling off a little ..but they seem kind of small. we have not had much rain in the past month. I am not sure if they will be good for wine making or not?
 

Brigitte

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Why wouldnt they be good? If they have some juice in them they are good. Our absolute favorite is to dry the berries, make them into a mead with a little oak, quite a bold wonderful drink. Our berries have had some problems, 2 years ago a blight got the flowers, then last year the spotted drosophila got the fruit, this year leaf legged bugs ate a bunch but left us enough I hope to pick. WVMJ
Hi WVMJack..
I looked at your site and watched the videos.. good stuff there! I really like the bucket method ...banging the elderberries on the sides of the bucket.
Still watching my berries.. most are still green or beginning to turn although the occasional bunch appears ripe. we finally got rain.. 2 inches in the last couple of days. Not sure if this is a good thing at this point for the elderberries.. hmmmm...
 

WVMountaineerJack

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Actually we like the baking grid on top of the bucket, less berries flying around hitting you in the eyeballs! WVMJ
 

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