how to make elderberry wine
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5 from 8 votes

Elderberry Wine

This is the basic recipe for red fruit wines. It will work with blackberries, blueberries, plums, or any other dark fruit or berry. All these wines age very well, and do well with added oak. If you make them correctly and age them a few years, you can shock your wine snob friends. Serve it first, and tell them what it is later.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 3 gallons
Author: Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • 9 to 15 pounds elderberries, stems removed
  • 10 quarts water, spring water is best
  • 3 to 6 pounds of sugar (see above for exact amount)
  • Tartaric acid (see above for exact amount)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pectic enzyme
  • 3 teaspoons yeast nutrient
  • Wine yeast

Instructions

  • Crush the berries by hand, or pulse them in a food processor in batches just enough to break up the berries. Do not liquefy them.
  • Pour the crushed berries into a large pot with 10 quarts of water. Add 3 pounds of the sugar. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Heating elderberries makes them easier to digest, and helps set the color of the wine.
  • Pour the juice into a freshly cleaned 5-gallon bucket and let it cool to room temperature. Test the juice for acid and sugar. Both may be a little low, so be prepared to add another 1 to -3 pounds of sugar and possibly tartaric acid. Add tartaric acid to get the juice to about 7 grams per liter. You might not need to add any – I’ve had elderberry batches that needed no additional acid and, others that needed a lot. We’re dealing with a wild food, and wild foods are variable.
  • Add the pectic enzyme (and tannin, for blueberries and blackberries and blueberries), and chill to below 50°F in the fridge or with ice packs. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the juice to keep out air. Keep the juice covered and at this temperature for up to 3 days. The longer you cold soak, the more flavor you extract. (But you run a higher risk of oxidation, which will turn the wine an unappetizing brown, or of spontaneous fermentation, which can ruin the whole batch.)
  • On the third day, bring the juice up to room temperature. Add half the yeast nutrient as the juice warms. Once the juice is at room temperature, hydrate your yeast and add it in, then follow the above directions from here.

Notes

Note that prep time is only for that initial first day's work. Elderberry wine takes a long time to mature.