This blog is a record of the wine that I make and drink. Each flavour made and each bottle drunk will appear here. You may come to the conclusion that, on the whole, I should be drinking less.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Elderflower Wine 2012 - The Making Of ...

June is already proving to be a busy month, and today - Saturday 9th June - was really the only day I could dedicate to making elderflower wine. It is early in the season but next weekend is packed with concerts and the weekend after that could well be too late. I also need to fit 'Gooseberry wine' in somewhere.

Generally I go to Harewood to forage for my elderflowers. This year, however, to save both time and petrol, I thought I should check out the local playing fields on Stonegate Road. It was a good idea; this had elder trees flowering in abundance. Whilst going to Harewood makes elderflower gathering more of an event, there are definite attractions in picking them a five minute walk away.

I collected elderflowers from several trees and met virtually no-one whilst doing so. A large German Shepherd came sniffing around and I said "Good Dog", hoping that it was, rather than being the sort that would leap at my throat with a snarl. It trotted off again after its owner, and I continued with my foraging.

Picking elderflowers is the fun part of making this wine. Stripping them is not. I needed two pints for a double batch and my work rate is just less than a pint an hour. The last half-pint felt like it took forever. I helped things along by listening to Radio 4 comedy on i-player. John Finnemore's Cabin Pressure is very good.

Two pints of elderflowers and half a glass of sloe wine

I broke the stripping up by going to Sainsbury's to buy sugar and an extra litre of grape juice, but had to make do with 'Grape & Peach Juice Drink'. So, I put 2 pints of elderflowers in my bucket, then 5 lbs sugar, 1 litre of 'Grape Juice', 1 litre of the aforementioned 'Grape & Peach Juice Drink', 12 pints of cold water, one-and-a-half teaspoons of tannin, 1 teaspoon of pectolase, two crushed vitamin B tablets and two crushed camden tablets. I added the yeast and between a teaspoon and two of nutrient 12 hours later on Sunday morning.

Elderflowers in bucket
It all went into its two demijohns on Thursday evening, my 42nd birthday, when I should really have been revising for my first Accountancy exam tomorrow. It was a fast process, and Claire kept me company in the kitchen, mostly in friendly silence.

If you want to see how the first bottle of this turned out, click here


  1. you dont need to strip the elderflower. put everything in a big bin and start the process for a week, in exactly that, with a loose lid. it will ferment like a rocket and so contamination is not an issue. Then take the flavoured liquid off and ferment only that in demijohns. keep adding sugar once a week for a few months until you have great tasting rocket fuel.

  2. oh i should have said, cut close to the florets when picking and have the bucket or whatever close by to catch them. obviously too much stalk could give you an undesired bitterness.

  3. Hello Anonymous - Thank you for your tip. Certainly dispensing with the stripping of elderflowers would make this wine rather less tedious, and I shall try it next year. I wonder if the same applies to elderberries, which - if anything - is even worse than elderflowers. Since typing this post, the wine has cleared and has left only a small sediment, so I will probably rack the wine early in August. Please feel free to pass on any more handy hints!