Elderflower Champagne – Part 2 (Bottling)

bottling day
what you’ll need to bottle

The champagne has been fermenting away for a few weeks and the yeast has done it’s job and eaten all the sugar to turn it into alcohol. I’ve taken my readings and made sure that fermentation has finished and I can also tell that it is 8.5% ABV. I’ll explain later how you work out the alcohol using your hydrometer readings.

Now it’s time to bottle the champagne and make it fizzy – after all if it isn’t fizzy, it isn’t champagne.

Bottling champagne is a little bit different from bottling beer, you need slightly different equipment and some brute strength.

You need the following;

  •  Champagne bottles
    this is important. You can’t just use any bottle to bottle something which is carbonated, especially not to the levels that the champagne will be carbonated as the pressure will cause your average glass bottle to explode. You need to make sure you have proper champagne bottles, they are slightly heavier and will stand up to the pressure much better.
  • Corks
    I’ve gone with plastic corks that I can force into the bottle without a corking machine.
  • Cages
    these hold the corks in place so that the fizz from inside the bottle doesn’t force the corks out.
  • Some sort of tubing you can use to siphon the wine into the bottle (I like to transfer the wine to another bucket through a piece of muslin first and then bottle the filtered stuff from that new bucket).
  • Sugar
    to feed the yeast and make your champagne fizzy

 How to work out your alcohol content

  1. Take note of the reading you took before adding the yeast to your wine (example Start reading = 1075)
  2. Take note of the reading you took that let you know that your wine was finished fermenting (example Final reading = 998)

The alcohol (by volume) is simply the number of fermented units (start minus final) divided by 7.4. So…

Alcohol =

(1075-998) / 7.4 = (77) / 7.4 = 10.4 %

I suspect that if you follow my recipe, your wine will be between 8.5% and 9%.

 

How to make your wine fizzy

If you were just making wine, you could stop here. Bottle your wine and enjoy, however as we’re making champagne or sparkling wine we need to make our wine fizzy. Now I can imagine you are wondering what sort of fancy machine is involved in making this happen? Well it’s so much simpler than that.

To make wine fizzy, we simply add sugar and let the yeast that’s left in the wine eat the sugar and as a by product of eating sugar, create co2. Simples.

This is why I mentioned earlier that you needed proper bottles. We are going to add our wine to the bottle with a set amount of sugar, cork it and let leave it alone and let the yeast do its stuff.

Now the more sugar you add, the more co2 the yeast will produce and the more fizz you will get, but be careful, adding too much sugar and you could end up with bottles exploding under force.

I added 9 grams for each 750ml bottle.

Now we put it away and forget about it.

 

 

Bottles of Elderflower Champagne
Bottles of Elderflower Champagne

 

 

Did it work?

Yep. It worked a treat.
I know have some bottles of lovely, sparkly elderflower champagne to enjoy over summer.

The trick to having this lovely drink look all clear is to store it away and forget about it. I’ve had mine sitting for a couple of months now and it’s crystal clear.
Perfect for a sunny day in the garden.

Homemade Elderflower Champagne or sparkling wine

Related Post

Elderflower Champagne – Part 1

The full process in step by step videos

Next
Previous

24 Comments

  1. Pete (Birmingham)

    Hello, this is by far the most informative and easy to understand write up on making elderflower champagne (I’ve been researching since Xmas in anticipation of the flowers). I did read your blurb as “two girls in Surbia” and was impressed with your English, but after a closer read I see you are in the UK too. The only thing that concerned me about the process is the exploding bottles so I am going to follow your instructions, other than substituting dried for fresh elderflowers. Did you get a good amount of fizz when opening? How long would you recommend leaving it for as a minimum? I am surprised of the length of time you leave the elderflowers in before straining, does yours still have a distinctive elderflower taste? Mine is 2 days in and is still sat steeping.

    Thank you for all of the info and pics.

    Pete

  2. Hi Pete,
    I would absolutely recommend letting the fizz ferment out properly before bottling. The risk of bottle bombs otherwise is just too dangerous.

    Ours had a fantastic level of fizz, it is all about how much sugar you add to the bottles. Have a look online and you’ll find numerous calculators which will help you work out what you need.

    Ours was tasting great after few months but the longer you leave it the better it gets. The elderflower comes through nice.

    We have two bottles left which we will enjoy at our wedding next month. They should be great by then.

  3. Pete (Birmingham)

    Well Congratulations (both on your pending nuptials and the success of the fizz). Will definitely follow your advice. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    Pete

  4. Pete (Birmingham)

    Hello Eli, another quick question. I am back from holiday and find that the fermentation has stopped (finally). There is a large build of yeast sediment at the bottom, when I syphon into my prepared bottles and add my sugar, do I try to do so without disturbing the sediment, or will that result in insufficient yeast in my bottles for the second ferment? The scientist in me thinks that I should syphon without disturbing so I don’t have lots of dead yeast and sediment in my final product, but spike each bottle with a couple of ml of resuspended sediment to make sure that there are at least some yeast cells in my bottles. Did you stir it up and resuspend prior to bottling? Am I overthinking this?

    Thanks, Pete

  5. Hey Pete.
    Try not to disturb it.
    There will still be plenty of yeast. Don’t worthy.

  6. Pete (Birmingham)

    Brill. Thank you. I feel like I owe you a bottle for all of your help. I will toast you before the first sip!

  7. No problem Pete.
    Enjoy the product of all your hard work.
    :0)

  8. So how has it gone so far?
    Eli

  9. Hi I’m worried my elderflower champ will be too dry, my reading is .994 about 10%alcohol , I’m hoping to bottle tomorrow, just want to check the reading is the same. I’ve been away for a few days , so not sure if the readings have settled.
    Is there anything I can do to sweeten?
    Or do you think it will be the typical champagne kind of dry ! Dry! Xx thanks!!

  10. Hey Alison,
    OK don’t panic. Even dry it will taste great but you can sweeten it.

    You can add non fermentable sugar to it to sweeten it, this is what people do with cider and wine. It has to be non fermentable though, otherwise you’ll end up with it being too fizzy.

    Check out your local homebrew shop for this.

    When are you planning to drink it?

    Eli

  11. Hi,
    Thank you for your reply,
    That’s good to know! I’m might do half with the sugar and half without! And see what happens?
    I don’t know when to drink it ? I’m in no rush, But I am tempted to leave it a few months as you did!!
    It’s my first time at anything like this?!
    I too, like others, have spent so much time looking on the Internet for a good recipe.
    Your way and information, seemed a good choice, especially as you understand , to leave the elderflower plonk to completely finish fermenting, and with the tip! For creating bubbles!!

    The only thing I’m still unsure of ? is the plastic corks? And how long I can leave the champers stored for?
    As on the grape vine! People say don’t store with plastic corks?
    I have already bought champagne bottles plastic corks and cages.
    I tried to look for champagne cork, corks!
    But they are tricky to find? Plus then you need to buy the thing to get them in the bottles? And I wasn’t sure how long you can store elderflower champagne for?
    So decided to stick to your way, as I know I would like to drink them sooner , rather than later?!
    Maybe I could save them for Christmas time?
    Would this be ok?!
    Thanks for your information and time xx
    Ps this is the first time I’ve ever posted anything! Thank you

  12. Hey Alison,

    Don’t worry about using plastic corks. That’s what I use and they are perfectly fine.

    As long as you have sanitised everything including the corks, the bottled fizz should last for ages.

    I still have some of that original batch left and that’s over a year.

    Good luck
    Eli

  13. Hey Alison,
    A wee update for you.
    We drank one of our last bottles last night, 18 months old.

    Delicious. Slightly sweet, delicate almost peachy flavour, lovely fizz. Most enjoyable.

    Can’t wait to hear how yours turns out.
    Eli

  14. How did it turn out Pete?
    Eli

  15. Silly question. A lot of articles online state to bottle the wine when it’s down toward .995. My batch of Elderflower has stopped at 1.020 (OG was 1.083) giving me 75% attenuation. Is that correct and will it be okay to bottle? My yeast would need to convert 100% of the sugars if I got down that low which surely is impossible. I used Lalvin champagne yeast btw!

  16. I always give the same advice for all brewing, regardless of the beverage and its mentioned in the first blog post about making the wine: http://www.eliapplebydonald.co.uk/blog/elderflower-champagne-part-1/

    After you think fermentation has stopped, take readings of your specific gravity. If you get the same readings for three days in a row, then your fermentation has stopped.

    Trying to achieve very specific numbers doesn’t work unless you are very experienced as all sorts of things affect the fermentation of your brews.

    Hope that helps,
    Eli

  17. Hi Eli, I set my batch away on the 17th June and its still fermenting (it wasn’t to your recipe, as I took it from a book and only found this article once I had concerns over bottling whilst the mix was still so active), as such the elderflowers have remained in the mix and I removed them after 9 days, as I started to worry that the flowers could introduce off flavors. The mix looked fine but it is starting to smell stronger, a mix of alcohol and sharp vinegar… I have concerns its not going to turn out great :(. How important is it that the flowers be removed and not left to steep for a period of days, your recipe seems to be the only one I have come across that mentioned the removal of flowers early? I have a second batch on the go to your recipe 🙂 and I plan to have another iteration or two before the season is over, trying the learn as much as I can before the fresh flowers disappear.

  18. Hi Eli,

    Made 8 bottles of elderflower champagne with fresh flowers using one of the celebrity chef recipes before I found your blog. Bottled after about 5 days. One bottle has blown out the cork and most of the contents after 2 weeks. Have put the others in a fridge to try and stop the fermentation. Will it be any good or should I bin it and start again. Next time I will use your method which makes far more sense.

    Thanks
    Barry

  19. Hey Barry,
    Sorry to hear about the bottle bombs. Putting them in the fridge may help but it’s not guaranteed. The champs will be drinkable, just over fizzy so might go up like a fountain when you open it.

    Just be safe, don’t leave the bottles anywhere they could cause harm if they shatter.

  20. Hey Lee,
    The legnth that you leave the flowers in is completely to your taste. The longer you leave them the stronger the flavour. I tested this out and compared my two separate recipes – the video is on you tube- I found the one I’d left the flowers in longer had a much sweeter, cloying taste. Not to my liking.

    On the note that yours smells like vinegar, that’s a bit more worrying, the vinegar smell or taste is usually caused by an infection(that’s how vinegar is actually made).

    I’d have a taste and if it actually tastes like vinegar, bin it and have another go.

    Sorry
    Eli

  21. Hi Eli –
    I’m having a go at Elderflower champagne for the first time.
    I’ve given 10ltrs about 6 days in a fermenter and its now in a couple of demijons bubbling away.

    Ive strained it but it looks very cloudy at this point.
    Is this normal?
    If so when would you expect it to clear?

    Thanks
    Lorcan

  22. Hey Lorcan,
    don’t worry this is perfectly normal. The longer you leave a brew undisturbed in the bottle, the more it will clear.

    The pictures of my very clear elderflower champagne are after 6 months.

    Eli

  23. hi my elderflower champagne finished bubbling in the demijohn so i bottled it in sterilised old prosecco bottles but i only put 1 teaspoon of sugar in the bottles do you think that is enough to make it fizzy?????
    should i open them now and add more do you think?

  24. Any sugar in the sealed bottle will make it fizzy as the fizz comes from the yeast producing co2 which has nowhere to escape to and therefore gets absorbed into the liquid. The amount of sugar just determines how fizzy. And I’d always say too little is better than too much.

    Opening the bottles has lots of risk and would defeat the point of sanitising them beforehand. I’d be inclined to leave it and see how happy you are with the finished product and adjust for next time if you feel you have to.
    Eli