Sparkling Elderflower Champagne recipe

Elderflowers lend themselves extremely well to the creation of a sparkling "Elderflower Champagne". Nothing else in the countryside comes close. Making sparkling elderflower champagne can be as simple or as complicated as you like. If you are keen, you can mess about with champagne bottles, wires and disgorging and the like... or you can take a really simple approach.

Pick the elderflowers from bushes away from the road on a hot sunny day just after lunchtime when the flowers are dry and open. Trim the petals away from the stems until you have about a pint of elderflower petals. This weighs about 3oz.

Bring a gallon (4.5l) of water the the boil and tip over the elderflowers. Add the juice of 3 lemons and between 3 and 3.5lb of sugar, depending on how sweet you want the finished wine. Do not add raisins as many recipes dictate - they just make the drink cloudy. Instead, get a 1/4 pint tin of grape juice concentrate and add into the mixture. Add 1 crushed campden tablet, and then a generous dose of yeast nutrient.

To be honest, you can leave the grape juice concentrate out if you want and just make a lighter wine.

Add some yeast. This is the only important bit - make sure it is EC1118 champagne yeast - you can get this from any homebrew shop or online merchant. Ebay will do.

The mixture will soon start fermenting. Let it ferment for 3 or 4 days, and then strain the mixture into a glass demijohn, insert airlock and leave to ferment.

You need a hydrometer. Get one from Ebay or a homebrew shop. Each day drop the hydrometer into the wine and watch its progress. As the yeast turns the sugar to alcohol the hydrometer will drop lower and lower.

Check a couple of times each day. Once the gravity reaches 1010, syphon the fermenting liquid into plastic fizzy drinks bottles. Find the strongest 1 litre bottles you can - Coke is good. If you really want to do it without a hydrometer, just wait for the wine to start clearing from the top. IF you bottle too early the worst thing that will happen is a split plastic bottle and a bit of mess.

At this stage much of the yeast and gunk will have sunk to the bottom of your fermenting vessel so be careful when siphoning to leave the mess behind. Make an inch or two of room at the top of each bottle.

Put your fizzy drink bottles in a warm place with the tops screwed on very tightly. Leave for a further month.

After a month, take the elderflower champagne from the warm place and leave it in a cool place for a further month or two to settle out. Keep the bottles upright and do not disturb.


To drink the champagne, put a bottle carefully upright in the fridge with the fridge on the coldest setting and leave it there ideally for 24 hours. There will be a think deposit of yeast at the bottom of the bottle, but the main body of the elderflower champagne should be relatively clear.

Fetch a jug large enough to hold the contents of the bottle, and chill the jug (or glasses). Carefully open the bottle of elderflower champagne. Working quickly, decant the bottle into the jug slowly and smoothly in one go - stop pouring before the yeast sediment comes out. You now have a jug full of homemade fizzy sparkling elderflower champagne - make sure you drink it all at once!

Alternatively pour straight from the cold bottle into the glasses!