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Blackberry and Elderberry Wine Recipe

Here is our recipe (well my Grandmothers actually) for Blackberry and Elderberry wine. This makes a lovely warming drink around Yule (although if you can manage to keep a bottle for a year or two, it becomes quite special.

Elderberries are rich in Tannin and that helps the wine mature nicely, the citrus fruits help improve the acidity. With the quantities of ingredients we've given below you should end up with a nicely balanced wine containing about 10% alcohol.

With the exception of the fruit which you will probably want to harvest yourself, all of the ingredients and equipment are available from large supermarkets although there are many online specialist home brewing retailers if you have any trouble locally.


  1. 2 1/2 lb. Blackberries
  2. 1/2 lb. Elderberries
  3. Juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
  4. The juice of 1 medium sized orange.
  5. 3 lb. sugar
  6. Burgundy style or general purpose red wine yeast (Sachet with nutrients)
  7. Campden tablets
  8. 1 Gallon water


You can get by with less, but here is the equipment we would suggest for anyone starting out (most of it only ever has to be bought once):

  1. 1 x 2 gallon plastic bucket or bin (preferably food grade white plastic if possible)
  2. 1 x plastic or glass demijohn (2 would be better)
  3. 1 fermentation lock (obtainable from any wine-making shop, online).
  4. 1 wooden or plastic spoon for stirring.
  5. 3 - 4 feet of plastic tubing
  6. 2 x muslin bags or cloths.


  1. Absolute cleanliness is critical to wine making, so make sure all equipment and utensils are washed and sterilised thoroughly before use. You can use Sodium Metabishulphite (obtainable from any wine-making store - even Tesco do it now). If you can't get that, use babies bottle sterilising tablets from any chemist or supermarket. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for quantities and rinse thoroughly once the equipment is sterile.
  2. Rinse the fruit to remove any bits - try not to break squash it or you will lose precious juice.
  3. De-stalk the elderberries and place all the fruit in a sterile fermentation bucket and crush all the fruit to expose the juice and pulp (a plastic potato masher is perfect for this if you have one) but anything that will roughly break the fruit up will be fine (remember to sterilise any utensils before use). Don't use a electric blender, the aim is to break the fruit up not to produce a smoothie.
  4. Pour in 4 pints of cold water
  5. Boil 2 1/2 lbs. of sugar in 2 pints of water until fully dissolved, then allow to cool before adding it to the fermentation bucket.
  6. Add the lemon and orange juice and stir well, cover carefully and put to one side while you prepare the yeast.
  7. Half fill a teacup with water at around room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the contents of the yeast sachet and stir briefly then cover and place somewhere warm for about an hour - during which time it should develop a nice frothy head.
  8. Pour the yeast mixture into the fermentation bucket and stir briefly to distribute it. Cover and leave to ferment for 4 days.
  9. After the initial 4 day fermentation (which will be quite vigorous to start with) strain the wine liquid through a couple of layers of muslin into a sterile Glass or clear plastic 1 gallon demijohn.
  10. Boil the remainder of the sugar (a little under 1/2 lb. ) in a pint of water the allow to cool to room temperature before adding it to the rest of the wine liquor. If necessary, top up with cold water to the bottom of the neck of the demijohn (you must leave this small air gap). Seal the demijohn with a wine-making airlock and put somewhere warm (traditionally an airing cupboard - nowhere too hot though) and leave to finish fermenting (usually another week or 10 days). Bubbles will stop rising through the airlock and the wine will start to settle (and even clear if you are lucky).
  11. If you have the luxury of a second demijohn, siphon the wine off the sediment (try not to disturb the sediment if you possibly can - takes a little practice but the more you can leave behind, the better will be the end product).
  12. Add a couple of crushed Campden tablets (this deactivates any remaining yeast and ensures fermentation has truly stopped - it also acts as a mild preservative.
  13. Occasionally fruit wines can develop a haze which prevents them from clearing fully. There are many techniques for clearing this this type of haze ranging from adding pectolase, to fining and filtering. If a haze develops, what you do about it will depend on how much of a perfectionist you are the wine will still be perfectly delicious and drinkable even if it has a slight haze and since this particular wine is a deep fruit red, you may not even notice.
  14. After another couple of weeks clearing, the wine can siphoned into bottles (you'll need about 6) Screw caps are most convenient for your first batch but even plastic lemonade bottles will be adequate if the wine is going to be drunk young (though it will improve with age).
  15.  Label each bottle with wine type and date bottled.

Enjoy it with your family and friends.

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