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91 responses to “How to Make Elderberry Wine”

  1. Sadie

    Hi Hank,
    found your website (thankfully) last year just in time for the elderberry harvest. Made 5 gallons successfully. The wine is robust and drinks like a BIG zinfandel. I think the oak chips make it amazing. Reading through the posts, I was happy to see the clarification on the boldness of the wine can be curbed slightly. I currently have 25# prepped and plan on trying to recreate last years wine and another slightly lighter version. One thing I noticed with this wine, was how cloudy it initially was compared to other wines. I try to steer away from petroleum based polymers in the clarification process and used Bentonite clay. It worked like a charm and I’m not picking up any off flavors from it. Do you use bentonite clay for clarification? Thanks again for the informative and entertaining site!

  2. James

    Do you wash your berries? I just cut about 20 pounds from my bushes out back and will need to freeze them before I can get to wine making. I’d love to just chuck them in the freezer, but there is a lot of debris I don’t want to get frozen with them.



  3. Sam

    Hi Hank!

    Following your procedure for elderberries from our property. We’re starting the first ferment, but wondering about one of the later steps. You say to test the wine for oakiness after 3 months. Do you mean 3 months from starting the 2nd ferment (so 2 months would have been the secondary ferment), or 3 months after racking and putting into the carboy with oak cubes (total 5 months from starting the secondary ferment)?

    Thanks for the detailed explanation of the process!

  4. SARAH

    Hello, I decided to follow your recipe as it is the best one I have found yet.
    It didn’t go to plan exactly as it needed more sugar than your recipe suggested but wild fruit is unpredictable. I have however made a stupid mistake and I’m worried.
    I have added tartaric acid to my 3 gallons plus of Elderberry wine mix but didn’t need to as I did the acid test wrong. It has far far too much acid now. Have I ruined it?

    I hope more sugar water will fix it.


  5. Allen Morris


    Hello, hope all is well. I agree with others posting here, your recipe was the most detailed I could fine on the internet. This is my first try at making wine and have been trying to follow your recipe to a T. I had cold soaked the berries for three days and had a nice dark must. Now on day two, my must has turned red, sort of the color of the inside of a red grapefruit. Do you think the must May have turned bad? Thanks in advance for your reply.


  6. Tricia Lefever

    Hi Hank,

    I have steam extracted the juice from my elderberries. Can I still make wine with the juice, rather than the whole berries? I thought I might add some tannin, since the skins won’t be fermented. Any thoughts?

  7. Ian Dowlman

    Hi Hank,
    Just finished collecting, stripping and freezing elderberries (in Nottinghamshire UK). I have usually made a country style wine adding bananas and black currants to the wine which ends up as a smooth but Chianti type wine. Having read your notes on the web site I’ll try this now on a 3 gallon batch and see what happens against my usual method.
    Good site, I enjoyed reading the comments.

  8. Josh Homer

    This is my first foray into winemaking and so far am having fun. Thanks for the great directions and recipe.

    You mentioned that if you have extra after topping off your carboy to go ahead and put in another closely sized container. What do you do with it then? Also how should your new wine taste, can you get an idea of how it will taste once aged?

  9. Lisa

    Hello Hank,

    Great article on making Elderberry wine. I especially love the level of detail the instructions get. Unfortunately though I didn’t see your website until after I had already steam juiced my berries. So my question is do I just take 3 gallons of the straight juice or do I mix the juice with some water? If so, how much juice to water? Thanks and look forward to checking out the rest of your website.

  10. Ken warner

    Hi Hank: I have read that elderberries contain cyanide, what do you do to combat this? I have made elderberry wine for years and are just aware of this now… Thanks, Ken

  11. Elderberry: The Definitive Guide

    […] has one of the best recipes available, plus detailed information on the process. […]

  12. Don Williams

    Have 80 lbs. Brought to heat and simmered 10 min. Acid check ok, hydrometer check ok. Created must for three, 6 and 1/2 big mouth fermenters. Squeezed out all pulp well, only put in the juice. Fermented 7 days, transferred to carboys. Some say to leave about a inch of airspace. Some says no need to top off at this time. The day I transferred, I degassed all fast 1-2 min as one carboy did react with heavy fissing after transfer to carboy. That slowed down gas release to 1 bubble every 5-6 seconds on two of them and one stopped bubbling and no longer releases any gas. I had topped off that one. Did not top off the other two. The one with the previously heavy fissing is the only one with about two inches of foam (hydrometer 1004.) Temperature was consistent 68 degrees. Hydrometer is 999 on one that quit bubbling and was topped off. The one that was 1000 had been degassed 1-2 min, then quit bubbling then started back after a day at one bubble every 5-6 seconds. One gallon I did, quit bubbling on 4th day, transferred on day 6. Degassed also. Topped off. Been 2 days and had not restarted any bubbles. All was consistent 68 degrees. Mostly worried about not topping off the two as do not want to oxidize. Do I need to go ahead and sulfite those that quit bubbling, even tho it has been two days now since I first racked them? I realized I request a lot of help here.

  13. ingo ermqanovics

    I’ve held elderberries in the freezer for two years.
    Will these be still suitable for wine making?……..thanks

  14. Gary


    I followed your recipe, except for heating the elderberries, including a cold soak, and just finished the first ferment. I’ve run the wine thru cheesecloth, sieves, and a jelly bag and into the carboy for the secondary ferment. The seeds appeared to give off a very sticky tar like substance that was mostly collected in the separation process. The wine colour is a pale/light cloudy red. The cloudiness is likely from some remaining sediments. However, I was expecting a darker red similar to fresh elderberry juice. Is the light red typical, or was there too much water added?

    Before the first ferment, the juice started at 5 Brix and TA at 2 grams/litre. A lot of sugar and tartaric acid was added to reach my targets of 21 Brix and TA at 7 grams/litre. The TA increased to 10 grams/litre after the first ferment. What might of caused this? Thanks

  15. Jan Graabæk

    Thanks a lot for this blog. I just added oak cubes to my first batch. It’s 3 months now, and starting to taste pretty good. Can’t wait to taste it when the oak kicks in. Thinking about taking a couple of liters of it, and adding some honey to it, could be really tasty. Have you tried something like that?
    Regards Jan (Denmark)

  16. Dieter Dittrich

    Jan: a lot of people who don’t like wine, because of the dryness, will enjoy a glass of wine that is slightly sweet, try from 1 – 2 % sweetener by volume. Birch syrup would also work.
    Hank: Very nice recipe with good instructions. Steam juicing may create a protein haze in the wine, for syrup it wouldn’t matter. Also freezing after cleaning the berries helps with extracting the juice as the freezing breaks the cell walls.
    Cheers, Dieter

  17. Paul

    Hi Hank, we had a profusion of elderberries this year in Yorkshire I picked 43lbs and used your recpie, same as I did last year with pretty good results. Couple of questions if i may
    1 your recpie…. is it in Gallons USA? as I always end up with more liqour than i think I should.

    2 I have been using oak from a cabinet maker friend, which I toast lightly I use sticks 7mm square by 25cm long….. is this overdoing it?

    3 How low do you take the Specific Gravity? mine goes very low to 0.090 will this make it too dry

    4. I tried to check the acidity with a kit I bought, but it was really really difficult to see an end point in the titration because the wine was such a deep red. Is it OK to by a cheap PH meter and if so what pH do you think is best?

    Cheers Paul

  18. Martina Romanova

    Helo Hank,

    I made my first batch of wine last year with a different recipe in which it said to bottle the wine right after the first fermentation. I let it in bottles for recommended 6 month. I checked one of the bottles and its fizzy like a sparkling wine, I suppose it still has a lot of sediment. Is there any way how to get rid of the sediment now once the wine is bottled or will it get less fizzy in time?
    Thank you very much for your help.

  19. Chris ross

    I am desperate to know how the steam juicer people wine turned out and quantities used I have fifty pounds that have been waiting two years in the freezer and any advice on a juicing recipe would assist in my endeavours. And hank what of this protein haze you speak of, will pectin enzyme remove it? Great article allows all us simililarly interested people to share our experience, thanks!

  20. Slokiki

    Wine is about 10 months old and tastes pretty sour like unripe fruit. I do not know what Elderberry wine is supposed to taste like. In general, I like eldberries and I make tasty syrup from them. I made my first batch late July per your recipe. In October, it tasted really sour and like burnt rubber. On the advice of a local wine maker, I added some K-meta and racked it 10/17 and again 12/20. It has been sitting in 3 gal carboy with a few oak cubes since. Is this just a “rough” young wine or should I do something else to help it. Is it time to bottle age it? I don’t mind waiting.

  21. Leesa

    Hank, where can I get your wine? I make wine jelly and I think elderberry wine jelly might be interesting.

  22. Pamela

    Hi Hank,

    I wanted to ask if you had ever tried white/green elderberries for making wine. I’m not talking about unripe berries, but rather a variation of the mexican elderberry that produces berries that are a clear green color, rather like the color of gooseberries. I have three trees that give the green berries, and I’ve held off on using them much because I was looking for more of a ‘classic’ elderberry. Now I have a prolific young volunteer that produces larger and less bitter berries than any of my other specimens and I was hoping to utilize it. Thanks for any thoughts you might have!

  23. Alaskan Bob

    Hello Hank, Thank you for such detailed information. My only question is about the yeast, is it just one packet of yeast. I am going to be using the Red Star Montrachet 5gram yeast and just want to make sure one is enough. I thank you for your time and wish you a wonderful evening.

  24. Art

    You mention (as do many) to top off with a comparable wine to get the level to within half an inch of the stopper. Is there any reason you don’t use some of your own elderberry wine from a prior year?

  25. Peggy

    I’ve been following the recipe in “Guide to Better Wine and Beer Making for Beginners” and found your site as I wanted a recipe that didn’t call for raisins. Do you know why so many recipes call for using raisins? My book says to use citric acid 1 tbsp for a gallon using 3 lbs of fruit, which I have. Can I substitute if for the tartartic acid? I have done elderberry twice so far. The 2013 came out very sweet, like a dessert wine. The 2014 was better, I left in in the original fermentation gallon jugs for 10 months because I was too busy to attend to it. It was clear, dry and tastes just fine. I bottled the top 4/5 of each gallon, and drank the lees by combining the remains of several gallons together, letting the rank stuff settle more, decanting the top with a ladle. I liked it.

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