How to Make Elderflower Champagne
I know we cant call it champagne as it hasn't come from the specific area in France, but this is what it has always been called. It helps differentiate it from being sparkling elderflower wine, as elderflower wine is very different in flavour although its made from almost the same ingredients.
It take a little patience and a little knowhow, but our recipe and video guide will help you make the best elderflower champagne you can possibly make.
First, you are going to have to go out, find an Elder tree with lots of blooms, sniff each bloom before you pick it. If it smells funny, leave it and move on to the next bloom. Pick some elderflowers, and take them home.
Remember to never pick blooms below waist height (animals mark their scent) and to leave some blooms to turn into elderberries for another great wine making opportunity.
Scroll down and watch our video of Davin taking you out into the fields to find elderflowers and then back to the kitchen to brew up some amazing wine.
1pint of Elderflower petals (50g dried Elderflowers if out of season)
8 pints boiling water
1.15kg (2 1/2lb) Sugar - 50% Granulated (Supermarket) Sugar & 50% Brewing Sugar
Grated rind of 2 Lemons
Juice of the 2 Lemons (Or 2 tsp Citric Acid)
2 Tbsp Quality White Wine Vinegar
1tsp Wine Tanning
1 Sachet Sparkling / Champagne 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 they are poisonous – great for the compost heap.
Into a sterilised brewing bucket, we are going to add the sugar, the Elderflowers and the grated lemon rind and the juice.
Pour on 4 pints of boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. (The smell is amazing!)
Pour on 4 pints of cold tap water and stir.
Add the tannin and stir.
Add the White Wine Vinegar and stir.
Put the lid on the bucket and leave it to cool to approx 20°C.
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 sparkling wine once we have taken our last reading at the end of the brewing process.
Add the yeast nutrient and stir.
Add the yeast and stir it in.
Put the lid on loosely and place the bucket 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.
Take a sample with your hydrometer and check the specific gravity. We want a reading of 1.010 or below. If it's not got as low as 1.010, then pop the lid back on and leave if for another day or 2 and check again.
We now have to strain the wine to remove all the elderflowers, raisins, etc. Strain the wine into a sterilised bucket through a straining bag and then get rid of the elderflowers.
Sterilise your bottles. Remember, they must be suitable to hold a carbonated liquid or they will explode.
Siphon your elderflower champagne into your bottles.
Seal the bottles.
Put the bottles in the warm place for 1 week at 20°C. This will allow the fermentation to finish in the sealed bottles. The yeast will have continued to eat the sugars and turned them to alcohol, but more importantly at this stage is that they also create carbon dioxide. As the bottles are sealed, the gas is trapped and dissolves into the wine making it fizzy.
Now put the bottles somewhere cool - below 18°C to begin to clear. This will take approx 1 month. The sediment will sink to the bottom and will form a layer that will stick together. It is important not to shake the bottles as you want this sediment to remain at the bottom.
After a month or ideally 2, pop a bottle in the fridge and let it chill.
Pop open a bottle and pour into champagne flutes, trying to pour gently in 1 continuous pour so as not to disturb the sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
You will loose a tiny amount of champagne to the sediment, so don't try and get it all out.
Sit back and enjoy your glass of bubbly.
Remember to drink responsibly.