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The Best Yeast For Elderberry Wine

Michael Gonzales
January 10, 2024
The Best Yeast For Elderberry Wine

Elderberries can be more stubborn than grape wine when it comes to wine-making, due to the large amounts of tannins present which may overwhelm their fruit flavors if not managed appropriately.

Stem and crush the berries with a potato masher before adding boiling water and sugar until all has been dissolved.


European elder (Sambucus nigra) and American elder (Sambucus canadensis) are two species commonly used for wine production, both found throughout Europe and North America. Both contain harsh tannins which are best extracted through alcohol maceration. Extending fermentation too long could result in bitter wines; tannin-rich fruit tends to oxidize quickly so many winemakers prefer using only small amounts of must when fermenting this fruit.

Most fruit wines require some form of acidity to create a conducive environment for yeast growth and balance the residual sweetness. You can use powdered acid blends designed specifically for winemaking or lemon juice; most recipes call for around one teaspoon per gallon; however, since elderberries have an alkaline pH, additional acidity should be added based on your needs.

Yeast Nutrient provides nourishment to yeast throughout fermentation to ensure it stays healthy and produces more alcohol, an essential step if you want your wine to have good mouthfeel. You could substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon juice as an alternative if none is available.

Campden Crush Tablets are essential when working with wild fruits such as those found on an orchard or farm, to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria and keep wild yeast at bay during fermentation. They should always be present if any potential contamination arises during production of fermented must.

Pectic Enzyme breaks down pectin in fruit to clarify wine. While not strictly necessary when dealing with low pectin fruits such as elderberries, Pectic Enzyme can still help avoid that pectin haze that plagues many wines. You could try substituting 1 teaspoon of citric acid or even fresh squeezed lemon juice as an alternative solution.

An Elderberry wine needs extra headspace during fermentation; therefore a 7.9 gallon fermenter is the ideal vessel. Plastic should be preferred over metal as vinegar reacts with copper to cause metallic tasting wines.

Add equal parts water and sugar to a fermenter and combine until all of the sugar has been dissolved. Place dried elderberries in a nylon straining bag weighted with several marbles before placing it into your primary fermenter. Pour sugar-water over your elderberries as well as yeast nutrient and acid blend into primary before covering and setting aside until cool.


Elderberries contain an abundance of tannins that can quickly overpower winemaking processes if left unmanaged, which has rendered elderberry wine difficult to bottle compared with more straightforward fruit wines such as blackcurrant or blueberry. But don’t be discouraged; once aged and mellowed out, elderberry wine becomes every bit as enjoyable, sharing its characteristics with red grapes such as Mourvedre or Petit Verdot.

For making this type of wine, the optimal method begins by collecting its juice. First, wash and crush your berries carefully while wearing protective gloves to avoid skin contact; you may use either your hands or a potato masher – however this step must be done delicately so as to not release too much tannic acid that could ruin the finished wine product.

Once the berries have been mashed and placed into their fermentation bins, pour over the boiling water mixture and stir thoroughly to dissolve all of the sugar completely – this step prevents gunk from accumulating on top of must (unfermented fruit juice) during fermentation.

Start by mixing together yeast and acid blend. Additionally, adding yeast nutrient can be helpful as this will eliminate potential harmful bacteria while helping control wild yeast proliferation. Crushing Campden tablets is another good idea as this will kill any potentially harmful bacteria while keeping wild yeast at bay.

Once mixed, cover your fermentation bin and allow it to set for several hours before taking its initial specific gravity reading with a hydrometer.

The ideal SG should be approximately 1.020. If it exceeds this figure, additional sugar should be added back before fermentation is complete. Otherwise, wait until your alcohol content reaches 15% before bottling; tartaric acid can also be added at this stage to enhance flavor and balance; adding tartaric acid as part of this optional step is available from some pH testing kits to determine acidity levels in musts.


Elderberry wine requires longer aging than most fruit wines to properly mature and smooth out its harsh tannins, so the process should last six months to one year until reaching peak flavor and smoothness.

As when making any wine, when creating elderberry wine it’s essential to select plump and fully-ripened berries that are free from mold or damage, pure water must be used when extracting juice for your winemaking process as other types of water can alter its acidity levels and cause disproportion in your final product. It is highly advised to use Brewing Sanitizer which provides one step no-rinse cleaning of all your equipment prior to starting winemaking activities.

Once the berries have been washed and crushed, it is essential to remove their stems as these will contribute an unpleasant bitter flavor to your wine. Once all stems have been extracted from the crushed berries, strain through a fine mesh sieve in order to extract all skins; this will ensure the color remains true and helps avoid an undesirable haze caused by too much pectin in your finished product; purchasing a pectic enzyme could also prove helpful here.

On day two of fermentation, it is imperative to churn the juice at least twice and up to four times per day in order to aerate and expel hydrogen sulfide, which could otherwise ruin your wine. Furthermore, this process speeds up fermentation while simultaneously improving quality.

Aerating juice can also help lower the alcohol level in your finished wine, by adding a small amount of sugar and stirring it up. After this is complete, wait for yeast to consume all that sugar and produce alcohol as a by-product.

Once your wine reaches an alcohol content of around 14%, secondary fermentation begins. Once started, add remaining yeast nutrients and remaining sugar to the ferment. Make sure that at least once daily you aerate and stir up gently the juice for best results. After approximately three weeks you should rack and age in a carboy for 3-6 months more before bottling.


Elderberry winemaking is relatively straightforward, though requires some investment in equipment. With the right tools you can craft delicious bottles that will benefit from further ageing – in addition to those listed below, these include:

One Gallon Glass Carboys (2 Carboys) A narrow neck fermentation vessel known as a carboy holds wine during primary and secondary fermentation to reduce oxygen exposure, helping prevent it from turning into fruit vinegar. Glass carboys provide the safest and hygienic method of fermenting your wine; you can purchase them individually or as kits complete with rubber stopper and water lock.

Cleaning Brush and Soap These items are essential in maintaining clean equipment to make wine. Cleaning both before, during, and after each use helps prevent the growth of bacteria which could cause your wine to taste off. Furthermore, each time you open up your fermenter you will require new rubber stopper and water lock as these components can easily become contaminated over time.

Stemmed Elderberries (Fresh or Frozen) This recipe can use fresh or frozen elderberries; however, using frozen ones makes stemming easier while decreasing wasted juice.

Sugar: 2 1/2 pounds are necessary to sweeten wine properly, which you can purchase either online or from local brew shops.

Campden Tablet This tablet can be used to add acid blend and yeast nutrient to wine, following the directions on its package for proper dosage and stirring.

Pectic Enzyme This recipe may require the addition of pectic enzyme to aid with sugar dissolution in your wine and help avoid an unappetizing cloudiness that sometimes appears in wines.

If you decide to bottle elderberry wine, a brewing siphon and clean bottles are necessary. A brewing siphon provides the easiest and safest method of moving it from your carboy into bottles without pouring, while also helping avoid sediment contamination in each bottle of wine. Furthermore, corkers and corks of various sizes will be needed.


  • 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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