The Elderflower Season appears to be over - around this way in any event for this year. But that doesn't mean the end of Elderflower Wine. This wine so the recipe says can be made at any time of the year, it makes a delicately fragreant sparkling wine. Dried elderflowers if you haven't dried them yourself can be obtained from most winemaker supply stores, herbalists, health food stores and some chemists.
This recipe might also give those of you a chance who have missed out on this year's harvest with a lovely wine. In fact Elderflower is one of my all time favourites, along with nettle, plum and gooseberry wines.
1oz/30 g of dried elderflower
1lb/450g minced sultanas or 1/2 pint/280ml white grape concentrate
1 1/2 lb/675g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon/5g of citric acid
1 teaspoon/5g pectic enyzme or liquid equivalent
Pinch of Tannin powder
1/3mg Vitamin B Tablet
Champagne or Perlschaum yeast
Make a syrup with the sugar by bringing it to the boil with 1 pint /560ml of water. Put the dried elderflowers, acid, tannin and sultanas or concentrate into a sterilised bucket and pour on the hot syrup stir well and cover.
After half an hour add 6 pints/3.4 litres of cold water and then stir in the crushed vitamin B tablet, pectic enzyme and yeast. Cover closely and stir daily for 3 days. Strain the liquid into a demijohn and fit the bung and airlock. Half-fill the airlock with water and few drops of sulphite solution to keep the airlock sterile,
Leave the "must" to ferment until it has completely lost all sweetness. A sample that has been well stirred to disperse the dissolved gas should register a specific gravity of 0.995 or less on the hydrometer.
Rack the wine but do not add teh usual crushed Campden tablet or a teaspoonfull of sulphite solution. Instead stir in 1 oz/30g sugar, dissolved in a little hot water then top the demijohn up to the neck with cold water and stir well. This is important.
As this is to be a sparkling wine do take care to bottle it in only bottles made for the purpose, bottles designed to take tremendous internal pressure. Champagne or sparkling wine bottles must be used free from any chips or scratches. Ordinary wine bottles may well burst under the gas pressure generated by the secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle,#
Syphon the wine into the bottles laeving a space of about 3 inches/7.5 cm measured from the top of the bottle. Cork with a plastic stopper and fasten the cork in place with wire. Very professonal wine cages or muselets can be bought. These do the job perfectly and can be re-used over and over again with just the occasional replacement of the piece of wire that goes round the neck of the bottle. Store these bottles upright and the yeast willl stay in the punt of the bottle when the wine is poured 2 to 3 months later. Drink it slighly chilled an hour in the refrigerator door should be enough, and do ease the stopper out of the bottle with a cloth in your hand. It will still make a pleasing pop when withdrawn but can't fly off and do any damage. Pour as much of the wine as possible without clouding into a glass jug from which it can be poured as required in the wine glasses. Sparkling wines are best served in tall champagne glasses known as flutes except perhaps at party times avoid those shallow saucer like glasses usually sold as Champagned glasses, their lack of depth and large surface area allow the wine to lose its sparkle all too quickly.