May Wine is a traditional drink in Germany served on the 1sty of May when spring has officially sprung and people want to celebrate the season with this delightfully fragrant sweet woodruff infused wine.
What is May wine?
May wine, also known as Maitrank, Maiwein, Maibowle and Waldmeisterbowle, is the name of a German beverage that uses aromatized wine as a base. May wine is served in the spring, traditionally on the May Day holiday.
Along with May Poles (or Maibaum – May tree) this is all part of the May day celebrations of spring in Germany and the May Wine is the tipple of choice.
May Wine is made from any light white wine flavoured with Sweet Woodruff (Woodruff).
Sweet woodruff is a delightful plant that grows in profusion in Germany and you can easily grow it in your garden too. It loves shady areas and grows like a blanket of fluffy pretty white flowers in May and June.
In Germany the herb is used to flavour everything from cakes and jellies to sweets and drinks.
Growing sweet woodruff
Sweet woodruff is a super easy plant to grow in your garden. I started with 4 tiny plants many years ago and now have a carpet of sweet woodruff in the shady parts of the rockery.
Apart from looking really pretty and being good for making this May wine, sweet woodruff has a lovely scent, like new mown hay when you dry it. It’s often used as a sleep aid.
It has a very delicate flavour with a slightly aniseed like taste.
Ingredients for May wine
You only need 2 ingredients to make the May Wine itself. Just sweet woodruff and a light wine like Hock, Reeisling, Liebfraumilch, Chablis etc.
To serve your May wine you want to add some bubbles. So go for Prosecco, Cava or any other sparkling wine you fancy.
Strawberries are traditionally served with May wine.
How to make this
Dry the sweet woodruff in a low oven (about 120C) for 20-30 minutes. The smell will be amazing, just like new mown hay.
Pop the woodruff into a large jar and top with the wine. Leave this in a cool cupboard or the fridge for a week to infuse.
Strain out the soliods and your May wine is ready to use.
Serving this drink
Slice up some strawberries and place these in the bottom of a jug or put a few in each glass.
Add the May wine and then top with sparkling wine/Cava/Prosecco or just sparkling water.
Serve with sunshine, family and friends!
What does May Wine taste like?
This is a bit like Pimms. It’s a very light and refreshing drink and being traditionally served with strawberries in the glass brings to mind Pimms or maybe even a light white Sangria.
Looking for other delightful drinks to serve this summer? Then check these out before you go;
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How to make traditional German May Wine
- 750 ml white wine Hock, Reisling, Chablis or other light white wine
- 1 cup sweet woodruff
- 500 ml prosecco to serve
- 150 g strawberries to serve
- Dry the woodruff in a low oven (120C) for aboutb 20-30 minutes
- Pour wine into large jar and stuff in the Woodruff. Leave this in the fridge or cool cupboard for a week to soak up the flavours
- Strain the wine and disgard the herbs
- Pour the may wine into a jug and add strawberries and top with sparkling wine