Tip: Before making the wine, strip the Elderberries from the stalks and crush them into a large pan. Bring to the boil. You will notice a layer of scum emerges as the berries boil. Skim this off and discard. It is excess tannin and will reduce the time needed to mature the finished wine.
Crush the berries into a pre-sanitised fermenting bucket. Pour 3.5 litres (6 pints) of cold water over the contents together with the rest of the ingredients. Rinse the wheat or barley in a sieve under tap water to wash and add to the bucket whole (do not crush the grains as this will release unwanted starch). Stir thoroughly. Cover the bucket with a cloth and leave it to ferment in a warm place for 5 days.
Stir the contents of the bucket daily. Then strain into a 1-gallon demijohn through a nylon straining bag. Press as much as possible to retrieve the juice and discard the pulp/grains. It may be necessary to top up with cooled boiled water to 4½litres . Fit a bung and airlock and leave in a warm place to continue to ferment out completely.
Fermentation should be complete in 2-5 weeks. It should then be checked with a hydrometer. The hydrometer will indicate the remaining sugar level and finishing levels are as follows:
- Dry Wine-0.990-0.996
- Medium Wine-0.996-1.009
- Sweet Wine-1.009-1.018
You should aim to ferment the wine to 0.996. At this point all the sugar will be converted to alcohol and bubbles will stop emerging from the airlock. This indicates that the fermentation is complete. The wine will be dry but you can then sweeten it to taste with Wine Sweetener or Glycerol (which smoothens the wine). These products are non-fermentable so will not risk any post-fermentation which could occur if sweetened with sugar.
Finishing your Wine
At the end of fermentation add 1 crushed Campden tablet and half a teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon. Leave in a warm place for 3 days to kill off the yeast. Then the wine should be left to clear in a cool place (15C) before siphoning from the sediment.
Country wines may not clear on their own and we recommend the addition of finings. Harris Winefine finings are very effective. When clear you should pass the wine through a Vinbrite filter to obtain a professional finish before bottling.
Bottling your wine
The wine should now be bottled and stored in a cool dark place to mature for 6-12 months. During this time any rough tastes will be smoothed out and the wine will improve in bouquet and flavour. Elderberry wine is a quintessential English Country Wine that produces a deep rich red fruity style.