Elderberry Wine

Glass of homemade elderberry wineFollowing up yesterday’s Wine Stories post, today I opened up a bottle of the elderberry wine and tried it.

It’s not bad!

It’s much more like a sherry than anything else. The aroma is quite good, almost exactly like what I’d expect a good dessert sherry to smell like, with a strong hint of brandy. The flavor doesn’t live up to this, though; there are a bunch of different profiles going on in there: a sweet-ish sherry, some fusel alcohols, mild-but-tart fruit, a mead-like dry character (my wife suggested it reminded her of mead). They clash a bit, but all in all it turned out much better than I could have hoped.

5 Replies to “Elderberry Wine”

  1. I would have guessed it would be redder, too. I’m thinking the amount of time it’s been aging has mellowed the color as well as the flavor.

  2. I have been making (attempting to make) elderberry wine since the early ’80’s. It has been some of the best wine I have ever tasted. Supposedly even better if you can let it ‘age’. Mine is usually gone before the next season, so who knows how much better it could be.

  3. i would just like to know if anyone knows how to make a good simple elderberry wine as i am trying it for the first time, thanks

  4. I made a number of batches of elderberry wine between 1991-1993 from berries harvested in Davis, CA. The recipe was roughly:

    4 gallons crushed ripe elderberries
    1.5 gallons boiling water
    ~14 pounds sugar
    Champagne yeast (once primary cooled)

    With that much sugar, some of these batches came out much too sweet for my taste, but they’ve aged very well (I still open 1-2 bottles/year). The wine is rich, heavy, and held its color very well.

    This last year (2004), I tried once again and used considerably less sugar (10-12 pounds) and the results after only eight months’ carbouy aging is excellent! The young wine is very rich, DRY, and sustains its flavor well after each sip.

    For a delicious variation, use 3 gallons crushed elderberries with 1 gallon crushed blackberries. Adds a whole new dimension with the flavors propping each other up.

    Lastly, let it age for as long as you can stand to. It’s well worth it. Make a lot more and it gets easier.

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