Elderflowers, along with blackberries and sloes, have become foraging staples for us in the last few years. Last year we made a small amount of cordial from the trees that are dotted amongst the hedgerows that border our field, but we were somewhat limited as the season was already drawing to a close when we moved in. This year however, we've been able to step things up a notch and make a couple of batches of sparkling elderflower wine (also known as elderflower 'champagne') in addition to some more cordial.
We took the above photo during our first taste test of the first small batch of five litres. Sufficed to say that the taste test was passed with flying colours so we thought we'd let you know how we made it in case you fancy brewing your own whilst there's still some elderflowers left on the trees.
How to make elderflower champagne
After searching the internet it appears that the River Cottage recipe for sparkling elderflower wine is a popular choice so we decided to use that as a base. We'd suggest you follow the recipe as it is, with the following exceptions:
The recipe only calls for florets from eight sprays of elderflower. We really like the taste of elderflower so upped this to 20.
Whilst the recipe mentions that you can leave things to chance by relying on wild yeasts to ferment your brew, this really isn't worth it as you can end up with a yeast that completely spoils the flavour. For consistent results use EC-1118 Champagne yeast.
There's a mention of using champagne bottles for bottling but, whilst nice for presentation, they make it impractical to release any excessive build up of pressure inside the bottle and/or inspect your brew to check that things are progressing as you'd like. We'd suggest that used tonic water bottles are perfect for the job and carry much less risk of explosion.
If you decide to make your own batch of sparkling elderflower wine after reading this post then we'd be really keen to hear how you get on. Happy brewing!