One of the best wines that I ever made was a blackberry and elderberry mixture. It was in Fall, when I went a-foraging in the hedgerows and in the scrubby woodland near to the Bridgewater Canal, which runs near to my house. The children and I had found an old elder tree in what they called our secret place, and we foraged its berries, some being used in desserts, but others for wine making. I have made elderberry wine on its own, but in later years I focused mainly on mixing it with other fruits. In fact elderberry is quite tarty and so is more suitably mixed with sweeter fruits and needs to be sweetened. [Some people that the tannin in it has a mildly irritating effect on the stomach when it is taken in any quantity, but this seems matter of individual genetics.]
Blackberries mix well with any fruit, and so I have made a lovely wine out of blackberry and apple juice, some having come from my late lamented old Bramley Apple , which used to provide a rich crop until it had to be felled because of canker, but I have also used crab apples foraged in scrubby neglected woodland patches. Pear juice also will go well with any other fruit, but you have to leave the newly picked pears some time to soften after picking. The great advantage of blackberry is that Britain is rife with it, and so unless a zealous local council decides to tidy up the hedges there are plenty of blackberries in late August and early September, depending upon the area.I pick a few lovely, succulent ones when I am going out of the allotment, for the fence has plenty of them lining it. Do not, though, pick the shiny ones, for they are yet not fully ripe. A blackberry is ripe when its shine has faded into a dull blackish purple.
The recipe is similar to the one given above for birch, but you need to pulp the blackberries, a juicer will suffice, but they can be boiled to get them to break down. Strain the juice into a demijon and add two pounds of sugar,yeast and yeast nutrient. I use a red wine yeast,though a general purpose yeast will suffice.
There are other wines, all of which are made in the same way as blackberry is. You can also make elderflower wine, a brew of Spring, which involves collecting a gallon of elderflowers and soaking them for a few days to extract their flavour, then brewing the wine as elderberry is brewed, though a white wine yeast is preferable. Some berries, such as hawthorn, are not suitable for brewing as they have very little flesh and juice. Bilberry, Britain's close relative of the blueberry is made in the same way as elderberry and blackberry are, but this small ground covering shrub requires much effort to pick sufficient for a brew.