This blog is a record of the wine that I make and drink. Each flavour made and each bottle drunk will appear here. You may come to the conclusion that, on the whole, I should be drinking less.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (B1), 20th May 2017

On the whole, Richard likes his wines white. I was too disorganised on Saturday to put anything in the fridge, so I took along a blackcurrant wine instead. We were eating at Richard & Linda's and were fed royally. It is not a proper evening there unless I come away clutching my sides, groaning "I ate too much". Saturday was a proper evening. Our starter was mackerel with a gooseberry, apple and cucumber salsa. For the main course we had a goats' cheese, red onion & asparagus pasta dish with home-made soda bread flavoured with carrot and parmesan. Finally, Richard served a honey, blueberry & lemon cake which he claimed was underbaked, but I had a second slice anyway. The wine, whilst nice, could hardly compare.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Blackberry Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (B6), 14th-16th May 2017

Half a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti on a Sunday night was never going to be enough. Particularly when Claire and I had spent the weekend apart. I had been at a Warwick reunion, which was wonderful, but I was keen to get home to see Claire. In fact I spent most the evening making rhubarb wine, but at least I was pottering on familiar territory.

We left the last glass of wine until tonight, and my helping was distinctly soupy. More of an alcoholic blackberry smoothy than a glass of wine. But what's not to like?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (A6), 13th-14th May 2017

My phone buzzed whilst I was at a Turkish restaurant in London at a 25-year University Reunion Meal. "Have opened a bottle of Tutti Fruti" it read. I approved of Claire's choice - it has been a while since we drank one of those. While Claire spent the evening with the wine and an episode of Midsomer Murders I was recapturing my Warwick days. It was joyous seeing Sue & Caroline again, and being in Kings Cross Station at midnight, having it to ourselves, was magical.

The bottle had half its contents when I returned, but that was soon remedied. We drank it chilled while wandering round the garden, inspecting our holdings in soft fruit and columbines.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fourth Bottle (A1), 11th-12th May 2017

Another week. Another WYSO. Another bad mood. This time it is Berlioz's March to the Scaffold that I can't play. Drastic measures are called for. I may have to do some bassoon practice.

Other reasons why I might be a little grumpy? I am now 'Priority Level 3' for PlusNet failing to connect us to broadband. It only goes up to 4 and I have no idea what happens then.

Claire also needed wine - she has taken the plunge and applied for a new job - one which does not rely on grant applications and uncertainty. Prune & Parsnip fitted the mid-week mood-improving need quite nicely, with its medium-dry sherry flavour and overall alcoholic content.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Rhubarb Wine 2017 - The Making Of...

The end result
King's Cross Station, after midnight, is a magical place. It is a huge domed space, empty of people save for a few late night revellers returning home. Last Saturday night I was one of those - reliving my youth after a 'Quarter of a Century Since Graduating from Warwick' reunion. Being in the station with Caroline, Susan and Stuart was only a short moment, but my favourite of the weekend.

Four people in their late 40s pretending to be 22 again

On Sunday 14th May I came home to find nearly 7 lbs rhubarb waiting for me to make into wine. Nick had dropped this off from his allotment on Saturday and in return was rewarded with two bottles of last year's rhubarb wine. This strikes me as a good deal which makes everyone happy. I made the rhubarb up to 9 lbs from our garden, which is the right quantity for a triple batch.

Some of our rhubarb - with flowers (which one is meant to avoid)

All the rhubarb was washed and cut up into slices - none more than an inch and most considerably less than that. I put the sliced rhubarb into my bucket and poured 20 pints of boiling water over it, releasing a wonderful scent of stewed rhubarb. My recipe requires 9 lbs of sugar for a triple batch, but I only had half of that. It being a Sunday evening after an exhausting weekend, I couldn't be arsed to go round to medium-sized Sainsburys to get more, so I put in what I had and made the rest up on Monday. I can't imagine this two-staged approach will affect the wine.

On Monday morning before work (and so before the second application of sugar) I added the yeast and a teaspoon-and-a-half each of nutrient and pectolase. By Tuesday this was frothing nicely.

Rhubarb frothing nicely (plus my foot)

I put all the liquid into my three demijohns on Friday night, 19th May. As with most wines, I removed the bulk of the fruit with a collander and then proceeded with the sieve-jug-funnel method, leaving a gap at the top of each demijohn to avoid explosions and filling a bottle with some wine for later topping-up purposes. By the time I had finished this it was eight o'clock and Claire & I were both hungry. We left the wine, pale pink and bubbling, and had a fabulous Turkish meal at 'The Olive Branch'.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (A5), 7th May 2017

I can think of nothing interesting to say about this wine. We drank it. It was fine.

Currently I am totally wound up about Plusnet - who are meant to be providing us with a new, improved broadband. We dispensed with TalkTalk and (despite ordering Plusnet on 6 April) have been without internet for a fortnight. And it makes me so tense and cross. When I ring them they sound reasonable and apologetic and tell me everything will be working soon. But it bloody isn't and my heart races when I think about it.

*By way of update, we have finally been connected (on 17 May)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Orange Wine - Third Bottle (A6), 6th May 2017

After the slight disappointment of the last two bottles, this orange wine came as a relief. It was sweeter, less bitter and an all-round good bottle. We drank it on the Saturday night after our week's holiday in the North Pennines, and I had been considering not having anything alcoholic to drink. But as soon as Claire suggested that I open something, I crumbled.

The wine was drunk while I was finishing the longest book I have ever read: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - a twelfth-century based saga full of plot and cathedral-building. Badly written, but I loved it.