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Your Mother Was a Hamster…

…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, and a rip-roaring ruckus of fond memories ensue.

People are passionate about elderberries!

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 our memories by the following scene of farm animals being catapulted into the French castle built on an English countryside.


The insult however, is not one that holds water today. Unlike this bygone era when elderberry wine was drunk by poor folk who couldn’t afford wine from grapes, today, elderberry wine or mead is virtually an exotic, hard-to-find specialty wine.

Today, elderberry wine is an exotic 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 Wine

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. We’ve searched at local grocers and farmer’s markets, but the only place we’ve found it so far is on Amazon, and even those sellers often run out, or else they don’t ship to most states.

How Does Elderberry Wine Taste?

elderberry wine
NV Hidden Valley Elderberry Honey Mead

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

You can buy NV Hidden Legend Elderberry Mead on Amazon. However, last year they ran out and were out from fall to summer, so make sure you get yours in case the demand exceeds supply again.

There’s currently one other elderberry wine on Amazon, but it’s only currently showing available for shipping to just three states: D.C., Nevada and Oregon as of this writing: HoneyRun Elderberry Wine.

We contacted the HoneyRun folks and here’s what they said:
On Amazon, we ship to CA, OR, WA, NV, DC.  We encourage our NC residents to find it in a store by calling 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)

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.”

?The hunt is on! ?

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.

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.

These elderberry plants are also popular for the permaculture landscapes and living 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,

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