…and your father smelt of elderberries!
It never fails. Whenever we share about anything elderberry, people chime in with this infamous line from the British TV show, Monty Python and the Holy Grail “Your mother was a hamster…”
Recounting of various renditions and scenes typically follow along with a rip-roaring ruckus of fond memories ensue.
For many, the tiny purplish black berries elicit fond memories of country lanes, grandma, and fried elderflowers. And for others—many others—it’s that memorable line from the Monty Python show.
“Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”
This Monty Python scene was indelibly etched in many of our memories. Followed by the ridiculous scene of farm animals being catapulted into the French castle built on an English countryside.
Our kids have the lines memorized and while I’m not big on slapstick, the other 3/4 of our family love it. Meanwhile, I love hearing their raucous laughter as these scenes that never fail to tickle their funny bones. Then, for days after, we’re hearing that line… “Your mother was a hamster…”
Monty Python and the holy grail – ‘your mother was a hamster’ scene.
In 1969, while the US became famous for Woodstock, the British became famous for Monty Python. There’s probably some interesting psychology to break down on that one while some sipping elderberry wine. 🍷😋
Elderberry Wine is Wonderful
The Monty Python film “elderberry” insult however, is not one that holds water today… or wine! In this bygone era, elderberry wine was drunk by poor folk who couldn’t afford wine from grapes. In fact, elderberries used to be called “poor man’s grapes”.
Today, elderberry wine or mead is virtually an exotic, hard-to-find specialty wine. If you can find it, elderberry wine is wonderful to have on hand, and a novelty at any gathering.
Your contribution to the Thanksgiving wine offerings might be most memorable if it’s an elderberry wine.
Elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world.
Elderberry wine is one of the favorites in our family. It’s distinctly unique elderberry flavor is not as sweet as most fruity wines, yet it is uniquely, smooth and pleasing to the palette, with that taste-like-no-other, elderberry.
If you have elderberry bushes, you may want to make your own. If you don’t, or if it’s not harvest time, you can buy dried elderberries and make it or you can buy the wine.
No longer the wine of peasants, today, elderberry wine is an exotic specialty wine, favored for flavor, nostalgia, and the health benefits of elderberries.
How Does Elderberry Wine Taste?
If I had to give elderberry a flavor description, it would be elderberry wine tastes like a cross between a blueberry, blackberry and a hint of concord grape. My husband, Coleman, expressed it more eloquently:
The deep rich, purple-black elderberry wine, has a summery bouquet, with a light, silky sweetness that is slightly jammy. It is smooth and lacks the tannin bite of some grape wines. In one word? Delicious!
~Coleman Alderson on Hidden Legend Wild Elderberry Wine
Where to Buy Elderberry Wine
- Honey Wood Winery
- Total Wine
- Three Lakes Winery
- Deer Creek Wine
- 1000 Corks
NOTE: some states prohibit wine shipments, which you will see on each site.
- Total Wine stores
- Whole Foods
- Fresh Markets
NOTE: If your grocer doesn’t carry any, you can always trying requesting it. Smaller retailers and chains may have the latitude to make special orders.
We’ve searched at local grocers and farmer’s markets, but the first place we found elderberry wine was on Amazon. However, it seems that Amazon no longer sells wines.
The NV Hidden Legend Elderberry Mead we first bought on Amazon, that doesn’t seem to be available now.
The other elderberry wine that was sold on Amazon, HoneyRun Elderberry Wine couldn’t ship to NC at the time. So we contacted Honey Run directly.
Here’s what the helpful folks at Honey Run Winery said:
“We encourage our NC residents to find it in a store by calling [your local specialty/imports wine distributor, ours is in Raleigh, NC: Ararat Imports at] 919-212-3313. You can do a broader internet search for HoneyRun Mead (also try Honey Run Mead) or HoneyRun Honeywine. You can find some East Coast retailers who have obtained the licenses to ship to about 30 States. There is more information on our direct website too. Let us know if you need more help.” 1)https://www.honeyrunwinery.com/scripts/winePg.cfm?wn=3
We would love to try their “Grey Label Elderberry”. But… looks like we can’t get that shipped to NC either: “It is less sweet than the Elderberry we normally retail. We are exclusively selling it direct to customers in CA DC IA MN NM NV OR WA.”
So, if you live in CA, DC, IA, MN, NM, NV, OR, or WA, you can order specialty wines like elderberry wine directly from Honey Run Winery.2)https://www.honeyrunwinery.com/scripts/winePg.cfm?wn=3
Make Your Own Elderberry Wine
If you have access to ample edible elderberries, you could try making your own elderberry wine. To do it right, takes time, patience and care. But if you’re going to do it, you might as well take the time to do it right for the best possible outcome.
Winemaking is an art that requires TLC and patience.
Elderberry Wine Recipes and The Art of Wine Making
Below is one YouTube video and two websites with extensive recipes and instructions on how-to make elderberry wine. If you want short, succinct how-to information with still shot photos, check out the video first.
If you’re the type who enjoys really diving into the finer details of elderberries and the winemaking process, you’ll want to visit the recipes below after viewing this video.
HANK SHAW on HONEST-FOOD.net:
Naturalist and chef, Hank Shaw, has a wonderfully thorough article on how to make elderberry wine on his website, Honest-Food.net.
In addition, there’s another really thorough article, instructions and professional quality recipe on how to make elderberry wine in this article on WineMakerMag.com.
“I make elderberry wine only from the Western blue elderberry, Sambucus Mexicana. You can also use the Eastern blue elderberry, S. nigra.
Do not make wine from red elderberries.
~Hank Shaw, author, chef, hunter, forager, gardener, Honest-Food.net
Which Elderberries are Good for Wine?
The two most common types of elderberries used for food and medicine are the European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). These are edible elderberries… meaning the ones you can eat raw or cooked.
There are many disagreements as to whether you can consume the Sambucus nigra and canadensis raw, so read up on it and test it carefully in tiny quantities first.
The American elderberry is the wild species often found growing in old fields and meadows. Canadensis can grows 10 to 12 feet tall and wide, and is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.
Elderberry plants are also popular for the permaculture landscapes and living edible hedges. We love the idea of edible hedges!
For more on the benefits, uses and recipes for elderberries and elderflowers, you may enjoy this article. For information on growing elderberry plants for profit, we have an extensive interview on our sister site, PlantingForRetirement.com.
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always kept plants, been interested in medicinal herbs and nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. I assist in our family gardening projects primarily (at present) through the sharing of information through our websites and newsletters.
As a family we’re steadily expanding our gardening, experimentation and knowledge around all things gardening, edible landscaping, fresh organic foods and self sustainability and hopefully, farming in our future. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community. I also own and manage theiCreateDaily.com.
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