Things do not bode well for this wine. And I am cross. Only 12 bottles-worth! For years I have been making triple batches of elderberry wine, yet this year it is only a double. It would not even have been that had Claire not convinced me that 5 lbs 6 oz of fruit was only a little way from the 6 lbs that I really needed, and that freezing what I had picked would be inconvenient. She pacified me with cake, but I am still cross. I predict a thin, sub-standard twelve bottles of elderberry wine. But we shall see.
Anyway, Autumn has come early this year - the trees were starting to colour in mid-August and all fruit is early. As I am Doing Stuff for the next few weeks without a break, today - Monday, 5th September - was the only convenient time to begin this wine. I might struggle for elderberries if I had left it another fortnight.
I drove to Hetchel Woods and decided to do the three-and-a-bit mile walk associated with this wine rather than go straight for the elder trees. It was, after all, a sunny Autumn day. Or it was for about the first twenty minutes of the walk. I watched the light dim rapidly as heavy rain clouds accumulated. I then stood under a tree for ten minutes, pretending that this gave me adequate shelter as water cascaded around me. I should have known then that not all was going to plan for this wine.
When I got to my usual field, the rain had stopped but my feet and legs were wet. There were plenty of elderberries and, according to past instructions, I picked a plastic bag and a half's worth, knowing that this would be nine pounds of fruit, and wandered back to the car - ignoring several opportunities to pick more.
Back home I started stripping the berries from their stalks and became monumentally bored in the process. Radio 4 helped a little. Weighing the elderberries was depressing. I didn't even pick enough for a double batch. Not really. Bah! So I have mashed what I did pick with greater ferocity than usual, on the basis that this may release more juice, and I have covered the resultant pulp with 12 pints of boiling water.
I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase the next morning. I was going to strain the elderberries and add the sugar on Thursday night, but I came back from Madeleine's at 10. The process would have taken an hour and a half, so I thought "Sod it" and just added 5 ½ lbs sugar, leaving in the elderberries. I doubt it will make much difference.
I sieved this into demijohns on Monday morning, 12th September - which took less time than anticipated. I had to top each demijohn up with about half a pint of water. It is a fabulous dark purple colour, so at least something has gone right.