I love elderberry wine but my favourite must be its sister, blackberry wine. It is not to everyone’s taste though some find it a little too much like blackberry cordial.
The bramble on which blackberries grow is a species-complex with over three hundred micro-species in Britain alone. This means that the blackberries they produce vary as much from plant to plant as they do from year to year. Like all foragers, I have developed a mental map telling me where the best blackberries are to be found, and also when is the best time to pick them. To be honest you do not need fat juicy blackberries to make a good wine, just those with a lot of flavour. You will certainly need to go equipped to pick them – bramble thorns are particularly vicious.
The recipe is the same as that for elderberry and there is no reason why you cannot obtain a little extra tannin by replacing one-third of your blackberries with elderberries. Blackberry and elderberry wine is a classic of the countryside. Indeed, elderberry and blackberry wines are often blended after maturity.
Makes about six 75 cl bottles
- Yield: 6 75cl bottles
- 1.5 kg blackberries
- 1.2 kg sugar
- 1 tsp pectic enzyme
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 5 g sachet red wine yeast
- Crush the berries gently (without crushing the pips) in the bottom of a fermenting bucket with a potato masher, add the sugar then pour on 4.5 litres boiling water. The hot water will kill all the bugs so no Campden tablet is needed. Allow to cool until just warm, then add the pectic enzyme. Once cooled, check the specific gravity and adjust if necessary. Cover and leave for 12–24 hours.
- Stir in the yeast nutrient, aerate, then pitch the yeast. Leave to ferment for a week, stirring every day except the last, then siphon or strain into a demi-john and fit an air lock.
- Rack off into a second demi-john when fermentation appears to have ceased. Bottle once the wine is clear if you want a dry wine or sterilise and sweeten as described here. Allow to mature for a year before drinking.