How to Make Elderflower Wine

There has been a huge trend recently in the supermarkets and cafes for elderflower cordial and Elderflower wine and champagne.

If you have never tried Elderflower wine, it has a real taste of spring and summer, is amazingly refreshing and really easy to make.

All you have to do is get yourself some elderflowers and some basic equipment.
First, let’s look at the equipment you’ll need to brew your wine:
Brewing Bucket with lid
Demi-John & Air Lock
Thermometer
Spoon (Plastic or Stainless Steel)
- Pint Jug
Muslin bag (or a strainer)
Siphon (plastic tube)
- 6 Bottles and 6 corks
Hydrometer (optional if you want to test the strength of your wine)
 At Brewbitz, we have a Wine Making Starter Package that you can use to make your Elder Flower Wine.
And now the ingredients:
- 1pint of Elderflower petals (50g dried Elderflowers if out of season)
- 8 pints boiling water
- 3lb Sugar
- 1/2lb Raisins
- Grated rind of 2 Lemons
- Juice of the 2 Lemons
Campden Tablets
- 1tsp Wine Tanning (or 150ml of Stewed Tea)
- 1tsp Pectolase
- 1tsp All Purpose White Wine Yeast
- 1tsp Yeast Nutrient
You’ll need to take a trip to the hedgerows on a sunny morning so you can be sure to get lush fresh flowers full of nectar.  You’ll know if they are right to pick as you will be able to smell their aroma from a long way away.

Take some carrier bags and secateurs with you as you’ll need quite a few flowers.

Please remember to only take what you need, so you leave lots more nectar for the bees and other insects.   This means that the bees are happy and pollinate the flowers to give you lots of Elderberries in late summer, and then you can make some elderberry wine – a very rich full bodied red, that’ll blow your mind with how good it tastes.

So, what do elderflowers look like?  Take a look at our pic.  Elderflowers grow on a tree.  You are looking for a big head of white flowers on a scraggly looking bushy tree.  The flower heads should be pointing upwards and will be about the size of your hand.   The head is made up of lots of little white flowers on green stalks.  If you are not sure, then always ask someone that knows what they look like.

How many do you need?  Well, to make 6 bottles of elderflower wine, we need a pint of flowers once we have removed the stalks.  I have found this to be approx 2 full supermarket carrier bags.

To remove the flowers from the green stalks try the following;
- you can use a fork to pull the stalks through which then loosens the petals
- you can use scissors to cut the tiny flowers off the stalks
- you can rub 2 bunches together which helps the petals fall off
- you can pinch them all off
It takes time, but let me assure you, the effort is worth it.

Put the flowers in a pint jug and press down lightly and keep going until you have a full pint.

Throw away the stalks – great for the compost heap.

Now you’ve got all your ingredients, let’s get brewing!!!

Into a sterilised brewing bucket, we are going to add the 3lb of sugar, the Elderflowers, the raisins and the grated lemon rind.

Pour on the 8 pints of boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.  (The smell is amazing!)

If you are using stewed tea, now is the time to add it.  If you are using Tannin, then hold off until later in the recipe.

We need to leave it to cool to approx 20°C, so cover the bucket with its lid and leave it to cool.

Now add your lemon juice, tannin (if you have not used tea), the pectolase and 1 crushed campden tablet. 

Stir.

If you have a hydrometer, now is the time to take your first reading. Make a note of the Specific Gravity and keep this safe.  This will allow us to work out how much alcohol is in the wine once we have taken our last reading at the end of the brewing process.

Cover with the lid and leave for 24 hours.

Add the yeast and leave to sit on the top for 5 minutes, now stir in the yeast.  Put the lid on loosely and place the bucked in a warm place – approx 20°C for 7 days.  Stirring once a day.

For the first few days there will be a lot of bubbling of the wine in the bucket.  This will start to settle down and fewer bubbles will be bubbling up by day 7.

We now have to strain the wine to remove all the elderflowers, raisins, etc. Strain the wine into a sterilised Demi-John. You should fill the Demi-John to just below the neck.

Fit the air lock and put back into the warm place to finish fermenting.  The airlock should have a small amount of water in.  You will notice that bubbles will start to bubble through the airlock. This may take an hour or so, so don’t be worried if you don’t see the airlock bubbling straight away.

The wine should keep fermenting for another 2 weeks and you will notice that the bubbles decrease in frequency until no more bubbles are coming through the airlock.

It is now time to rack the wine.

Racking means taking the wine off the sediment in the bottom of the Demi-John and putting it into a clean, sterilised Demi-John.
If you don’t have a second Demi-John, we can use the brewing bucket, and then clean out the Demi-John and then transfer the wine from the bucket back into the clean Demi-John

To rack the wine, put the Demi-John on a table or kitchen worktop. Put the second Demi-John (or bucket) on the floor below.

Using the siphon, put one end into the wine (being careful not to touch the sediment at the bottom), and on the other end, suck until the wine reached your lips.

Time for a sneaky taste ;)  Not too much though – it’s not quite ready to drink yet.

Quickly put the end into the second Demi-John (bucket) and let the wine drain through.  Make sure you get all the wine from the top Demi-John, and remember not to disturb the sediment.

If you don’t have a second Demi-John and are using a bucket, then now is the time to rinse out your Demi-John and then siphon the wine from your bucket back into your Demi-John.

Once you have finished siphoning, you need to add 1 crushed campden tablet to the wine, stir, and refit the airlock.

Now put the Demi-John somewhere cool to allow the wine to clear and any suspended sediment in the wine to settle on the bottom.  This can take a few weeks, so make sure to leave it in a place where it will not be disturbed.

Once the wine has cleared, rack it into a clean Demi-John (bucket), and then bottle it.

If you have a hydrometer its time to take the next reading. It should be below 1.000.  You can now use your hydrometer to work how much alcohol is in your finished wine.

Give it a month in the bottle and pop one open and enjoy.  It’s best if you can leave it to condition for 6 months.

Remember to drink responsibly.