May wine, also known as Maitrank, Maiwein, Maibowle, and Waldmeisterbowle, is the name of a German beverage that uses aromatized wine as a base. It was traditionally made with inexpensive German white wine, but I have to admit, that I’ve made it with all sorts of white wines, pretty much whatever kind I have on hand…all with good results. May wine is served in the spring, traditionally on the May Day holiday, or in this case Beltane.
What is Beltane?
Beltane, the Gaelic festival that heralds the beginning of spring, is all about celebrating the end of winter and the abundance of springtime: fresh food, good weather, and summer to come. It’s an excellent excuse for a party even if you’re not pagan and a great time to celebrate fertility, love, passion, and the abundance of life. What better way to start off the festivities than with a refreshing glass of sweet wine infused with herbs and fruit! I hope you enjoy this recipe for May Wine!
To learn more about the festival and celebration of Beltane, take a peek at this article: How to Celebrate Beltane: Feasts, Fires & Full Awakening
Like any good Spring potion, it’s meant to be consumed in the shade of an oak tree, after a picnic feast with friends, or under the light of the moon on Beltane Eve.
May Wine recipe:
*Woodruff is easy to grow in a shady spot in a garden or in a container. It is a good ground cover and a pretty plant.
- 1.5 liters of an inexpensive, young, mildly sweet or fruity white wine, such as Chablis, Chenin blanc, Riesling, Rhine, or Moselle. (one bottle).
- 20 sprigs of woodruff leaves and blossoms, washed and stems removed
- 2 tbsp local honey
On the day before the May wine is to be served, place the woodruff leaves and flowers in a container large enough to hold all the wine, then add the white wine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1.5 liters (1 bottle) of extra dry Champagne
- Choose a light white wine, the younger the better.
- Pour into a container large enough to hold all the wine and flowers.
- Add sweet woodruff (about 20 sprigs). Woodruff is easy to grow in a shady spot in a garden or in a container. It is a good ground cover and a pretty plant.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of honey.
- Cover it.
- Let it rest in the refrigerator overnight so the wine is infused with the herb’s essence.
- Just before serving, place a block of ice and the fruits in a punch bowl. Strain the white wine as you pour it over the ice and fruits. Add the Champagne. Decorate with woodruff leaves and white flowers that have been rinsed off. You can also make the punch without the fruit, and just pour it from a nice pitcher. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it!
Serving May wine at your next Spring celebration will only make those festivities more magical. I really hope you give it a try this year because it’s just so fresh, light, and wonderful! Everyone I’ve ever served it to has loved it. And since there aren’t many rules pertaining to this beverage, play with the wine and herb combinations until you find what you like best. It’s sure to be an instant classic for you too!
A Few Words About Sweet Woodruff
In the margins of woodland paths, woodruff grows wild and white on green. Protected under trees, it releases the ghost of its scent. A spiral of tiny, fragrant flowers dapples delicate white petals over a mass of green leaves with each breath of wind in May and June.
I adore this lovely little herb known as “the master of the forest” in Germany. It has the sweetest teeny white flowers in the spring and likes to spread voraciously throughout the garden if left unchecked from year to year. I love it in the shade garden where it tends to thrive as an under-tree ground cover. An added bonus is that it is deer-resistant and is considered one of the few rabbit-proof flowers.