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Elderberry or Bilberry Wine

Elderberries are excellent for making wine from.  Elderberry wine was sometimes called Englishman's Port. According to CJJ Berry's book, 130 New Wine Making Recipes, Elderberries were used to improve true port until the practice was made illegal. As with most fruit, there are plenty of interesting variations you can make that are quite simple yet very rewarding. We have listed our favourites below.

It is worth noting that Elderberry wine is quite harsh and dry when young, which can dissappoint some winemakers. However, if the wine is matured sufficiently, (upto 2 years) the harshness, caused by the high levels of tannin in the fruit, disappears. If you can not wait that long, the addition of a little sugar just before use creates a "near-miraculous improvement."

This recipes makes one gallon (4.5 L).

Equipment Required

  • 1 gallon starter kit
  • Glass Demijohn
  • Rubber Bung Bored
  • Airlock
  • Trial Jar
  • Pippette
  • Straining bag
  • Wine Bottles
  • Wine corks (Depending on bottles being used)

Recipe for Elderberry/Bilberry Wine


  1. Strip berries from the stalks using a fork, steel comb or similar device. Elderberry juice will stain, so take precautions to avoid getting it on your clothes.
  2. Crush the berries and any fruit recommended in the variations in to a bowl.
  3. Add grape concentrate, if required.
  4. Pour on 3.5 litres Boiling water, stir well and allow to cool.
  5. Add the yeast nutrient and citric acid.
  6. Cover and leave for 3 days plus in a warm environment. Ideally 20C.
  7. Pour into a tinted glass or stoneware jar to continue fermentation. This helps preserve the rich colour of the wine. If you havent got these, then cover with a paper back or cardboard box.
  8. After the initial vigorous fermentation is complete, top up with clean, boiled and cooled water and add a fermentation lock.
  9. Leave until fermentation is complete, then bottle in dark tinted glass bottles.