Elderberry Wine Recipe
From Dried Elderberries
I love elderberries. The elderberry is a great medicinal herb, known for centuries in folklore for its healing abilities. I have been making elderberry syrup as a remedy for years, and I even made a video on how to make that syrup here. Making your own is far more economical than going to the natural store and buying that Sumbucus syrup.
I saw some elderberry wine at the store and wanted to try it. I didn’t care for it much, as it was made with honey and had such an overpowering honey flavor in the wine that took away from the elderberry. I saw some videos of herbalist John Gallagher making elderberry wine and thought I would want to give it a try. John picked blue elderberries himself and made his wine from them. John is a great herbalist and it is important to know that if you wanted to do the same thing, that you need to be absolutely sure that what you are picking is elderberries. Other plants have similar berries and are poisonous, so be careful if you wild craft your berries. Also, from what I understand, the Red Elderberry is poisonous, but the blue and black are fine to use.
I was already making the syrup from the dried organic elderberries that I got from Mountain Rose Herbs. I highly recommend Mountain Rose for any herbs, as they have the very best quality around. I have been a customer of theirs for years. They are green, look after the environment and give back to the planet. I love them.
I thought that if I could make elderberry syrup from the dried elderberries, why not wine? So, I gave it a shot and came up with this elderberry wine recipe. My first attempt making elderberry wine with dried elderberries didn’t come out too well. I used ended up using too many elderberries. I also made the mistake of adding grape tannin. The elderberries already have a lot of tannin, so it takes a while to age before it is ready, too.
After tweaking the recipe, I came up with this elderberry wine recipe. It came out very well. I did back sweeten it a little, not too much, though. It was a very pleasant wine after about a year of aging. The process I used is similar to making the syrup. The nice thing about this elderberry wine recipe is that the cost of the dried elderberries at the time of this writing from Mountain Rose is only about $12.50 a pound and they are much higher quality than you will find in any wine making shop.
A note of caution when making elderberry wine. Elderberries stain things really badly. So, wear clothes that you don’t mind ruining. Now is a great time to break out that shirt your Aunt bought you that you would never be seen in public wearing. Just a thought… Let’s continue with the Elderberry Wine Recipe…
So, without further ado, here is the official Sicilian Prince Elderberry Wine Recipe:
|Elderberry Wine From Dried Elderberries|
|Ingredient||For 3 Gallons||For 6 Gallons|
|Water (Clean Filtered, Distilled or Bottled)||3 Gallons||6 Gallons|
|Sugar||6.5 lbs||13 lbs|
|Dried Elderberries Best Quality||1 – 1 1/4 lbs||2 – 2 1/2 lbs|
|Yeast Nutrient||1 Tbsp||2 Tbsp|
|Campden Tablet||3 tablets||6 tablets|
|Acid Blend||1 Tbsp||2 Tbsp|
|Champagne Yeast||1 Packet||1 Packet|
This is how I make this elderberry wine recipe:
I put up a pot of water on the stove with half the water for the recipe in it and all of the dried elderberries. I bring it up to a boil and simmer it for about a half hour. Then, I pour the fluid and elderberries into a mesh bag in my primary fermentor and tie a knot in the bag..
While that is cooling off, I take the remainder of the water, put it back in the pot and bring that up to a boil. I add the sugar to it and stir until it is completely dissolved. I remove that sugar water from the heat after it is dissolved.
While that is cooling a little, I put my attention back to the primary fermentor with the berries. I take my very clean hands in sanitized gloves and a sanitized potato masher and smash the heck out of the elderberries. I squeeze and squeeze. When I have had all the squeezing I can take, I pour the sugar water over the elderberries in the primary fermentor.
Then, I put the top on the fermentor and let the must cool down to room temperature. This elderberry wine recipe can make a big mess, so be careful not to stain everything you own. Wear clothing that you don’t care if it gets ruined. Elderberries stain everything.
After the must has cooled down, the next step in this elderberry wine recipe is to add everything but the yeast and campden tablets. Give the elderberry must a good stir. After doing so, crush the campden tablets and stir them into the must. Place the cover on and wait a full 24 hrs before proceeding.
After the 24 hrs have passed, it is time to pitch the yeast. Before doing so, take a specific gravity reading. It should be close to 1.10. Write the number down in your wine making log. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the elderberry must and put the cover back on. I usually just sprinkle it on top and don’t stir it in. I believe that makes the fermentation start quicker. I usually put the airlock on the lid of the fermentor and put it aside for a few days.
Every two days, I stir with a cleaned and sanitized spoon. After about a week to 10 days, I check the specific gravity for 1.02 or around that area. When there, it is time to rack.
Now for the fun part of this elderberry wine recipe. You will need to find those clothes again that you don’t care about. Put on our sanitized gloves and try to carefully squeeze all of the juice out of the elderberries in the net bag. Make sure that you have gloves on because the elderberries will stain your hands. After you have squeezed out all of the juice you can, compost the elderberries.
It is time to rack the elderberry wine into a clean and sanitized carboy. Rack it over to the carboy, add some oak chips if you want to and put a bung and airlock on the carboy. Set the carboy aside for about a month.
After about month has past, I take a specific gravity reading. You should easily have a reading below 1.0. Transfer off the sediment to a clean and sanitized carboy, but the airlock back on. Set the carboy aside for 3 months. Make sure you check the airlock each month.
Three months later, I would stir out the bubbles. First, transfer to a clean carboy. Then, I add another crushed campden tablet, one for each gallon, and stir out the bubbles with a drill mounted mix stir. After degassing in this way, I use sparkoloid to clear the wine in this elderberry wine recipe. I use it according to the directions on the sparkoloid. Stir the sparkoloid in well and refit the airlock and bung. Set that carboy aside for 14 days to clear the wine.
After clearing, I filter this wine using a wine filter. You don’t have to in this elderberry wine recipe, but I would recommend it. Filter it into another clean carboy, put the airlock back on and let it sit for three more months.
Three more months later, it is time to make a few decisions about this elderberry wine recipe. Get your bottles cleaned and sanitized, along with your corks. Rack it to your primary fermentor and get your gear ready for bottling. Taste your wine to decide if you want to back sweeten. If you do want to back sweeten, the next step in this elderberry wine recipe is to add some sorbate according to the directions on the sorbate. I usually put 1/2 tsp of potassium sorbate per gallon of wine only if I intend to back sweeten this elderberry wine recipe.
The reason I wait this long to decide on back sweetening this elderberry wine recipe is that I want the tannins to mellow out a bit before I make the decision on sweetening. Just my preference. I kind of like this elderberry wine recipe on the dry side, but I usually back sweetened it a little to bring out some of the berry flavor. Just slightly off dry if I were to describe my preference.
If you intend to back-sweeten this elderberry wine recipe, please read my article on back sweetening wine for the procedure. Once you get it where you like it, bottle and cork your elderberry wine. Let the bottles stand upright for a few days before sitting them on their sides. Let the bottles age at least another 3 months before tasting.
I hope you have enjoyed making this elderberry wine recipe. The wine is delicious and I am sure you will want to make this one again and again.