this year for May Day or Beltane I made a traditional German May Wine or Maibowle. It is a cocktail or punch that is made of white wine and sparkling white wine. It uses sweet woodruff to aromatize the wine and has an aroma like a warm summer afternoon. It brings back memories of a freshly mown meadow, with a sweet smell of slowly drying hay in the air. The coumarin in sweet Woodruff is to blame for this exact aroma. But on a May Day filled with rain, it provided a small promise of summer.
Traditionally you can make Maibowle or May Wine with white wine, semi-sweet sparkling white wine, sweet Woodruff, and a couple of spoons of sugar or simple syrup. This year I decided to add a flowery summery aroma to it by substituting simple syrup with elderflower syrup. The result was delicious! To make things more flowery I floated some edible pansies on top. Let’s start 🙂
Needed things for Maibowle or May Wine
0.5L white dry wine
0.5L white sparkling semi-sweet wine (if you only have dry wine then you will need to add a bit more sugar or syrup)
2 Tbsp elderflower syrup
bunch of sweet woodruff (I think mine was around 10 stalks)
2 stalks of sweet woodruff and fragrant pansies for decoration (optional)
IMPORTANT: sweet woodruff stalks can be used BEFORE the flowering. If the flowers have appeared, you should avoid using it. The levels of coumarin might be too high and the beverage can end up being bitter.
We will start this a day before by cutting our stalks and leaving them to wilt over night. Then the next day, when they have wilted, put them into a jar with dry wine. It is important that the stalk end are kept out of the wine, otherwise wine may get a bitter taste. You can tie the stalks with a string and then place them into the jar of wine and us the jar’s lid to keep the out of the wine. Refrigerate it for at least 20 min. Do not steep woodruff in wine for more than 2 hrs. The aroma will be too strong.
Assembly and decoration
When the wine has steeped enough, it is time to finish the beverage. Remove the sweet woodruff from the wine, then pour the wine to a punch bowl or a serving bowl or jar. Then add the elderflower syrup and mix to combine the two. Top of with the sparkling wine. Float the pansies and two stalks of sweet woodruff.