2018 Elderberry Batch #1

August 2018

This concentrate was a spur-of-the-moment purchase — I was thinking about elderberry and then I spotted the package in American Brewmaster. I didn’t even read the ingredients until I reached home.

I discovered that elderberry is third on the list, behind corn syrup and apple juice, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I had purchased it, figured it would ferment — and besides — I’ve fermented far worse things. 🙂

Part way through I decided to split the batch. Batch #1 is 3.5 gallons of plain elderberry. I’ll probably sweeten it slightly to bring out the fruit flavors, but will produce at most, an off-dry wine.

Batch #2 is the remainder (about 2.5 gallons) that will be fed sugar to jack the alcohol up to 18%, then it will be sweetened. The plan is to make a port-style wine. My notes (below) will show how this experiment progresses. Click here to see the log for Batch #2.

Fruit 1 gallon Vintner’s Best Elderberry fruit wine base
1 liter Global Vintners Inc red grape concentrate
Bentonite 2.5 tsp
Yeast Nutrient 5 tsp + 1 tsp added to Batch #2 (see below)
Yeast Energizer 1 tsp added to Batch #2 (see below)
Grape Tannin 2 tsp
Pectic Enzyme 40 drops liquid
Oak 1/2 lb toasted oak chips
Yeast Red Star Premier Rouge
Sulphite 1/4 tsp per racking after fermentation ceased
Sorbate 3/4 tsp at bottling

Following directions on the jug, I diluted the elderberry concentrate with 4 gallons water. For the first couple of quarts I used hot tap water to rinse the bottle — no point in wasting the goodness! The bottle said the SG should be 1.077. I got 1.076, but possible differences in dilution and temperature make this spot on. I was satisfied the label was correct.

Next added the red grape concentrate. The label said the brix would be 20-22, and I should dilute with 2.8 to 3.2 liters water. I used 2 liters warm tap water, which I used to rinse the bag. Again, no point in wasting the goodness! This brought the SG up to 1.078. I considered chaptalizing it up to 1.085 …. but decided to go with what I have.

I went with 2 liters of water instead of 3 as I’m looking for body and the 3/4 gallon extended the batch sufficiently that it will fill my carboy.

Added bentonite, yeast nutrient, grape tannin (just because), and pectic enzyme.

The oak chips were on hand and I decided to add it to see what it would do.

Sprinkled the yeast on top.

SG 1.078
Racked, moving the wine into a 5 gallon carboy and 1 gallon jug. Neither container was topped up, but fermentation was active so I didn’t worry about oxidation. 08/02/2018
SG 1.010
Racked. Filled a 3.5 gallon carboy with the basic elderberry. This is designated Batch #1.

The remainder is designated Batch #2.

SG 1.000
Racked. Topped up with commercial cabernet sauvignon. 10/13/2018
SG 1.000
Racked. Added 1/4 tsp sulfite and 3/4 tsp sorbate.

Sweetened with 3/4 cup sugar and bottled.

SG 1.007

Yield 15.5 bottles
Alcohol 10.6%
Residual Sugar 1.8 %
Winemaking Notes The first ingredient on the Elderberry concentrate label is corn syrup, the second is apple juice, the last is elderberry. The must smells good …. but the next time I do this, I’m going to look for a pure elderberry. It may make no difference, but the purist in me wants 100% elderberry.

I always add pectic enzyme to fruit wines. I’ve had to do it enough times when trying to clear the wine that it’s simply become a preventative habit. My local shop was out of powder, so I tried the liquid. It’s more expensive ($3 vs. $2) but the amount I used was tiny — this bottle will go bad before I use it up.

11/18/2018 My elder son helped me bottle today. Like with the metheglin, we saved a full glass of unsweetened wine as a control, then added 1/2 cup sugar to the wine, stirring vigorously to blend it. A little bit of sugar made a huge difference in taste. The base wine is a bit sharp, the sugar rounded it nicely.

Then we added another 1/4 cup, again mixing well. This softened it even more, and we discussed adding more sugar. Time is going to soften this one, so I decided to stop. If I didn’t have 2 gallons I’ve made into a more port-style wine, I might have sweetened more, but it should be good as it is.