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Wales, United Kingdom
Documenting one couple's attempts to live a more self-sufficient life.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Elderflower champagne

It's now a year since my first experiments with homebrew and it feels that things have come full circle (for some reason, harvesting this year's dandelions didn't have the same impact on me). As soon as our elder tree started flowering, a couple of weeks ago, I got very excited about picking some flowers to start the next batch of elderflower champagne. There was just one problem...

Elder flowers playing hard to get

Actually, there were two problems. Not only were the flowers a long way from the ground, but the ground had a good covering of nettles and brambles. The second problem was tractable, though, and after a lot of careful work with the secateurs, I'd cleared a space around the tree. This didn't get me much closer to the flowers, though - more tools were needed. With the aid of the branch loppers (six foot long secateurs - effective, but difficult) and a step ladder (not to be recommended) I managed to pick a few heads of flowers.

I didn't really have as much as I would have liked, though, so I supplemented them with a few roses and three very small, unripe strawberries. The resulting mix was very pretty in the wine bucket.

Pretty flowers for making champagne

After last year's explosion, I've played safe and put it in plastic bottles, which are far less attractive than glass wine bottles. They're also bigger. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. One advantage of plastic is that you can judge whether the drink's getting fizzy by squeezing the bottle. I did, and the first one - the last one filled, that is, with less liquid and more yeast because it has the dregs from the bottom of the bucket - was getting very tight, so I opened it for testing.

First glass of elderflower champagne

It was most delicious! I then got carried away and opened a second bottle, which was still very sweet, but tasty nonetheless. I think I'm going to have to find a way of harvesting more flowers to make a second batch of this.


  1. I absolutely love champagne. I had no idea one could make it without a huge, expensive operation. I think you are officially my hero. Now, if only there weren't a continent and an ocean separating us, I would beg to come over and sample some myself!

  2. Whilst it's very tempting to leave you with the idea that I'm making actual champagne, honesty compels me to confess that this is actually nothing like it. However, it is fizzy wine, and it is very nice. You'd be very welcome to come and share some with us, if it weren't for that pesky ocean in the way!

  3. Fizzy wine, champagne--it's all the same to me (sorry, French folks!). The photo of the flowers and fruit is just beautiful. I must now learn how to do make this fuzzy wine champagne. I'll just add it to the list of stuff I need to learn. I think I'm up to 4,000 things. ha!

  4. This is beyond cool! I doubt I'll ever be this ambitious, but I love that you are. Your drink looks gorgeous.

  5. Be brave! It's surprisingly easy - the only equipment required is a bucket and it's ready in about ten days.


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