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The Best Elderberry Wine 5 Gallons Recipe

Michael Gonzales
December 28, 2023

All wines require some amount of acid to ensure yeast can thrive, bring out flavor, and balance residual sweetness. When making wine at home, use an acid blend specially tailored for winemaking – powdered acid blends should work fine!

An ideal one gallon glass carboy x2 features a narrow neck to minimize air exposure during fermentation (primary and secondary), along with rubber stopper and water lock for additional security.

Ingredients

Elderberry wine should have a smooth and balanced flavor profile with adequate acid levels and reasonable sugar levels, while remaining rich in antioxidants such as vitamins C, fiber, and antioxidants. Making elderberry wine is easy and enjoyable–perfect as either an afternoon treat on its own or used to craft other beverages! While grapes may be better known for producing fine wines than elderberries can too when fermented carefully.

For optimal results, select only ripe berries that are free from mold or damage, plump in texture and rich with sugar content – the more ripe the berry is, the higher its sugar content will be and thus creating an excellent foundation for winemaking. If fresh elderberries cannot be found, dried elderberries may also work, provided that these dried elderberries have been completely sterilized prior to adding them into your mix.

Start wine making: Mix berries and water together in your primary fermentation container, mix thoroughly and allow it to sit for three days while stirring daily. On day four, strain out your mixture into secondary fermenter where you will add one crushed Campden tablet, two packets of yeast, sugar and stir to dissolve sugar before attaching an airlock and leaving it ferment for at least 30 more days.

After your wine has finished fermenting, rack it back into a clean carboy or jug to remove any gunk that has formed and produce clear wine. If you don’t have a clean carboy available to you, use a siphon to transfer its juice directly into glass bottles; beginners will find this tool especially helpful. For best results, store in a cool dark location for at least six months prior to bottling or siphoning off into bottles for storage.

Make elderberry wine using a concentrate is another option if fresh berries are unavailable or you simply lack the time and desire to do everything yourself from scratch. A concentrate still requires water and sugar addition, but will save time from crushing and blending all those berries yourself.

Preparation

If fresh elderberries are unavailable, dried elderberries can still make an excellent dark fruit wine that will give the same delicious results but with reduced effort and time required. The process for producing this wine remains similar but takes less time overall.

As with making grape or elderberry wine, the first step of producing your finished product should be ensuring all equipment and tools are clean and sterile. This includes your bucket for making wine production, the brewing siphon, bottles for bottling and bottle corker with clean corks to seal them all properly for storage of finished product.

Elderberry wine made at home can be as delectable as any wine produced from grapes. Elderberry wine can make a delightful winter wine to share with friends around the firepit or relax on your couch; and with enough ageing and maturing it may even stand in for stronger red grape wines like Mourvedre and Petit Verdot!

Before beginning your winemaking endeavor, it’s advisable to carefully remove any overripe or decayed berries – this will help prevent off flavors from sneaking their way into your final product and could save yourself headaches down the line!

Before creating wine from your berries, remove any stems. Stems contain cyanide-inducing glycosides which can add bitter notes to your final product and are extremely sticky – leaving behind gooey residue on hands and fermenting buckets that is difficult to clean off, leading to mold growth or off flavors in finished wine products.

After thoroughly washing and rinsing the berries, you can begin the process of producing wine. Place them into your fermenting bucket with enough water to fill it before adding sugar and stirring until dissolved; lightly stirring to prevent gunking during fermentation and using your hydrometer to read its sugar content (called brix) can tell when your wine has reached your desired sweetness level – at this time reracking with bottles using a sanitized siphon that you can buy at most homebrew shops.

Fermentation

Elderberries may not have the same glamour as grapes, but they make for an excellent fruit to craft wine from. With careful aging and oaking techniques, elderberry wines can resemble some of the more intense and deep red wines (Mourvedre and Petit Verdot are two examples) with ease; but perhaps best of all – elderberry wine production doesn’t require any special skills!

Step one of making wine begins by stemming and juicing your berries. Since stems contain glycosides that can create cyanide, it is necessary to extract these before beginning winemaking. While this task may seem tedious and cumbersome, removing stems is vital in order to avoid creating bitter tasting wine.

Once your berries have been cleaned and juiced, place them into a clean fermentation bucket and mash them using either a potato masher or pestle and mortar. Be mindful that juice may stain hands and clothing; rubber gloves may come in handy here. Once crushed, add sugar and yeast (the recipe requires starter culture; however you could substitute an active dry yeast pack if this seems daunting).

yeast will begin fermenting the sugar into alcohol and CO2 gasses, producing alcohol and increasing oxygen exposure in the process. A winemaker should install an airlock and rubber stopper on top of their fermenter in order to control CO2 emissions, thus limiting oxygen exposure that would otherwise turn wine into fruit vinegar during secondary fermentation.

Once the yeast have completed their work, your wine is ready for aging. For optimal results, allow the primary fermentor to sit for several weeks before moving it to the secondary fermentor; once transferred, stir regularly during transfer until clear with pleasant aromas is reached.

Potassium Sorbate should be added to wine before backsweetening and bottling to stop yeast from producing more sugar, thereby creating off flavors. This will prevent more fermentation happening as more yeast reproduces and processes sugar into new yeast cells that could potentially create off flavors in your wine.

Bottling

Once your wine has reached a stable specific gravity, it’s ready for bottling and should be stored in a cool dark location for further aging. This process could take anywhere from six months to one year before you’ll be sipping your homemade elderberry wine!

Wine should always be stored in wine bottles with corks; without one, Grolsch flip-top bottles work just as well; otherwise the best solution would be purchasing an electric wine corker and fresh corks. You will also require a brewing siphon to transport your wine from one container to the next as pouring the liquid would add oxygen which can turn to vinegar (and not alcohol) over time; siphons also remove sediment more effectively than pouring does.

Before bottling elderberry wine, first ensure your bottles and bungs have been cleaned of any contamination or dust particles. In case any become damaged during fermentation, spare bungs might come in handy; keep these on hand just in case one breaks.

Once your bottles have been thoroughly sterilized, siphon the wine into them carefully leaving any sediment behind. Add another crushed Campden tablet as an extra safeguard against oxidation of your wine.

Next, add sugar. If your wine is sweet, more sugar will likely be required than for dry wines due to their higher concentration of sweetness needing to counteract acidity.

Hydrometers can help you determine the brix of your wine by measuring its sugar content; generally speaking, you’ll need at least 20 brix before bottling.

Brix levels will depend on several factors such as your choice of yeast strain, fermentation temperature and preferred sweetness levels; on average however, you should aim to achieve an ABV level of 5.5% ABV or greater in your final beer product.

Important to keep in mind is that elderberries, their stems and uncooked berries are toxic when left raw, therefore only picking elderberries from your property’s own elder bushes using pruning shears is appropriate for picking them. Furthermore, touching any part of this plant could potentially be toxic too.

Author

  • Michael Gonzales

    Michael has a diverse set of skills and passions, with a full-time career as an airline pilot and a dedicated focus on health and fitness consulting. He understands the importance of balancing a busy lifestyle with maintaining a healthy mind and body, and is committed to helping others achieve the same success. Michael's expertise in health and fitness is not just limited to physical training, but also extends to nutrition, stress management, and overall wellbeing. He takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, helping clients to achieve their goals in a sustainable and fulfilling way. With a strong desire to inspire and motivate others, Michael is always ready to share his time and knowledge with those who seek his guidance. Whether in the air or on the ground, Michael is dedicated to helping others live their best lives.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-gonzales-07bb4b31/ [email protected] Gonzales Michael

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