Make Your Own May Wine for Mayday or Any Day

Edited by Nuance

May Wine is a beverage that originated in Germany and has been enjoyed throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. White wine, infused with Sweet Woodruff lends this libation a lovely and refreshing flavor. It is traditionally served on May Day. Sweet Woodruff is in bloom during May and June - the best time to make May Wine.

The History of May Wine

Queen Guinevre's Maying by John Collier

Not only does May Wine taste delectable, but Sweet Woodruff has a long history of herbal and medicinal uses. Throughout the ages, it has been used to treat ailments including liver problems and jaundice. During the Middle Ages, Sweet Woodruff was best known for flavoring May Wine, also known as Maitrank, Maiwein, Maibowle and Waldmeisterbowle, as in German, Sweet Woodruff is called, Waldmeister.

The History of Mayday in Various Cultures

Children Maypole Dancing early in the 20th century.

Children Maypole Dancing early in the 20th century. May Day traditionally marks the return of Spring. It originated as an agricultural festival ensure fertility for crops. It includes collecting wildflowers, decorating a May tree, or dancing around the Maypole. Mayday exists in various cultures:

  1. 1
    In some form it was celebrated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
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  2. 2
    Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht), a homage to St. Boniface, who brought Christianity to Germany in 8th century. Germany seems to be the country where the modern ideas of Mayday originated. In Germany it is celebrated as the 'Walpurgisnacht', a homage to St.Boniface (St. Walpurga). This festival coincides with the already existing pagan festival in Germany.
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  3. 3
    In Ireland and Scotland, Mayday is called, Beltane, festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.. Celts believed the sun was held prisoner during winter months only to be released each spring to rule the summer sky, and they celebrated this mythic release with a fire ceremonies and a huge feast to mark the occasion. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Although it's often celebrated on May 1, the ancient Celts would have celebrated it on the eve of the first full moon of Taurus.
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  4. 4
    In England you might find children dancing around the Maypole.
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How To Make May Wine

Young Reisling makes the best May Wine.


  • 1 bottle of Riesling or preferred white wine
  • Sweet Woodruff (L. Gallium odoratum)


  1. 1
    Put six sprigs of fresh sweet woodruff in flower or (quarter cup of dried herbs) into a carafe.
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  • 2
    Pour the wine over the herbs.
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  • 3
    Cover and refrigerate overnight.
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  • 4
    Strain back into the bottle or into a clean carafe.
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  • Variations on the Recipe

    1. 1
      If strawberries are in season add them before serving.
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    2. 2
      Add champagne to the mix.
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    3. 3
      A Party
      If you're making a large batch for a party, try this it's a bit weaker but just a tasty.  
      1. Get three bottles of white wine and an extra empty clean bottle.
      2. Put double the amount of herbs in a teapot with an infuser.
      3. Pour boiled water over the sweet woodruff and steep for ten minutes.
      4. Strain into clean container and allow to cool.
      5. Pour a quarter from each bottle of wine into the empty bottle.
      6. Top up each bottle with the cool tea.
      7. Three bottles of wine, will suddenly become four bottles of May Wine.
      8. Enjoy!
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    The Medicinal Value of May Wine

    Sweet Woodruff (L. Gallium odoratum)
    • Sweet Woodruff can be used as a poultice for cuts and abrasions.
    • Internally, it is used for liver problems, including jaundice.
    • Sweet Woodruff is good for digestive issues.
    • An infusion of Sweet Woodruff (tea) is useful as a diuretic.
    • An infusion is an effective anti-inflammatory.
    • An infusion can ease minor stomachaches.
    • It has a history of use for migraines.
    • The infusion is very good if you have gall bladder issues.
    • It works as a diuretic.

    Tips and Warnings

    • AVOID OVER-USE! Caution: Sweet Woodruff may cause headaches and other ailments if you overindulge or consumed over a long period of time.
    • Use organic wine, especially if you're vegan.
    • Get creative and add other herbs.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


    Article Info

    Categories : Holidays & Traditions | Beverages, Drinks, Smoothies, & Cocktails

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