Wine making goes back thousands of years, with the earliest evidence of winemaking dating back to 7000 BC. Humans have been busy perfecting the process ever since. Here is a recipe for an easy elderflower wine that captures the essense of summertime. The best part is that this recipe is not complicated.
Made with the lacy, cream-colored flowers of the elderberry shrub (Sambucus nigra or S. canadensis), elderflower wine is a lightly alcoholic beverage with a delicate taste that just about anyone can make.
These beautiful blossoms grow all over where I live. Now that I know what to look for this time of year, all I have to do is drive down one of our country roads to see these beauties growing all along the roadsides. Just be sure that wherever you are harvesting from is free of chemical spays and pollutants.
To make a gallon of this wine you will need roughly 24 elderflower heads which should take you no time at all to pick. Any more than this and the wine can become a little too pungent.
Equipment Needed to Make 1 Gallon of Elderflower Wine
The equipment needed for this Elderflower wine recipe is fairly straightforward.
You will need the following items:
Ingredients for Elderberry Wine
- 24 Elderflower heads, flowers removed from stems
- 2.6 lbs. of Sugar
- 4 liters of Water
- 1 Campden tablet
- 1 Lemon
- 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 1/4 tsp Wine Tannin or 1 cup of strongly brewed black tea
- 1 Sachet of Wine Yeast (I used Montrachet, but you can experiment with this)
- Harvest 20-25 large elderflower heads. Trim the lacy florets off the stems with scissors or a wide-toothed comb into a sanitized fermenting vessel.
- Add the zest of one lemon being careful not to grate the white pith. Add this to the elderflowers in the fermenting bucket.
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large pot until the sugar is completely dissolved, then pour over the flowers and lemon zest. Allow to cool then add the campden tablet, yeast nutrient, tannin powder or black tea, and the juice of the lemon. Mix all together, cover fermentation vessel with a towel, and leave for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours pitch the yeast into the fermenter, allow the wine to ferment for at least 6 days until activity starts to slow down.
- After 6 days, strain the mixture and transfer the liquid to a sanitized carboy. Attach a bung and airlock.
- Let the Elderflower wine complete fermentation for 2 – 3 months, racking off the sediment every 6 weeks until liquid is clear and fermentation appears to have stopped.
- Once cleared you may wish to stabilize the wine (direction below) before bottling, this Elderflower wine is best sampled after 6 months but will last well for a year or two.
How to Stabilize Wine
Stabilizing wine basically means that you want to prevent any further fermentation in your finished product, which could result in exploding bottles. This is also an important step to take if you plan on back sweetening your wine, as sweetening your wine is likely to restart fermentation.
To do this, simply add 1/2 tsp. of potassium sorbate per gallon prior to bottling.