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, 22 September 2018

Orange Wine 2016 - Tenth Bottle (A2), 15th September 2018

Something quite wonderful has happened to this orange wine. Since last having a bottle (February this year) it has smoothed itself out and developed a hint of sherry to its taste. Orange wine is always good, but this maturity has improved it beyond the merely 'good'.

Claire and I had a lovely evening with this wine. We spent much of it in the kitchen - Claire cooking, me sitting and chatting. Our fortnight in America is rapidly approaching and we are both excited and nervous in equal measure. Making plans is always fun and whilst we know what Nebraska will be like, San Francisco will be entirely new (unless one counts the day I was there aged 11).

Friday, 21 September 2018

Zucchini Wine - First Bottle (5), 14th September 2018

I have a rule. I will not write up a bottle of wine until it is empty. I am breaking that rule. In front of me is a bottle of Zucchini Wine with only two small glasses having been taken from it. The remainder will not pass human lips (or any other species' come to that). It is foul. There is a hint of vomit to both its aroma and taste. Claire couldn't finish her glass. I manfully struggled on with mine, but only as a punishment for making the stuff in the first place. This is quite definitely the worst wine I have made for an age.

The Offending Bottle
If you want to see how I made this wine (just in case you feel like having a go, because, let's face it, why wouldn't you?) click here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (A5), 14th September 2018

Not quite as good as the first bottle of this batch, but still a pleasure to drink. I think demijohn A is not as sweet as demijohn B, and for blackberry wine that makes a difference. It was our Friday night bottle (unless one counts the Zucchini, which frankly one should not) and we drank it to home made pizza whilst watching The Great British Bake Off  before an early night. I do love this programme but find it hard to explain why it is so engaging: pleasant people making bread under timed conditions? Sounds dull. And it is the same every year. But it is all done with humour and love, and it makes you care.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Orange Wine - Fifth Bottle (A6), 8th September 2018

Saturday was one of those days taken up by wine making and chores. I put my blackberry into demijohns, racked my rose petal and picked elderberries. When not doing all that I was washing up, shopping for food and cooking fish pie. I fit in an episode of Doctor Who (all are currently on i-player and I am working my way through Matt Smith) and cut my finger badly when slicing a lemon. Plus we had a bottle of orange wine. So a thoroughly unremarkable Saturday and none the worse for it.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Elderberry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Having left it nearly too late to forage for blackberries, I did not intend to make the same error with elderberries. Some years I have left this wine to the end of September. That would not have worked this year. On Saturday 8th September I walked to the open space off Gledhow Valley Road to find that the Council had wreaked havoc on the copse of elder trees. There had been some recent and enthusiastic pruning and no fruit to be obtained. I wandered back, picking elderberries from such trees that I could find, resulting in a respectable 1½ lbs.

Next morning I drove to my usual spot at Kennel Lane and walked to the field that I always use. There was fruit in abundance hanging from trees and I did not feel like I was thieving from the birds in taking two carrier bags' worth. The nettles were neither as high nor as fearsome as the previous year and I was only stung the once.

Much of the rest of Sunday was spent stripping the berries from their stalks, a task enlivened by listening to Radio 4 Comedy on the BBC i-player radio app (which wins the 'Best App on My Phone' Award by a streak). I had a quick jaunt out to look at the eighteenth century bathing lodge in Gledhow Woods, it being open for World Heritage Open Day, but otherwise spent the day on elderberry wine. My total elderberry haul proved to be a little over the 6 lbs needed for a double batch so I have frozen the remainder.

I put the fruit in the bucket and crushed it with a potato masher. I put in 5 lbs 4 oz of sugar and 12 pints of boiling water (exactly the right amount, it proved) and left the mixture overnight to cool. On Monday morning I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and pectolase, stirred it around and then ignored it (save for the occasional stir) until Saturday 15th September.

Getting this into its two demijohns was quicker than blackberry - there was less sludge to bung up the sieve. The wine is the darkest that I make and is currently stored in the bath in case the fermentation is too eager. For the moment, it appears to be behaving itself.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Elderberry Wine - First Bottle (B3), 5th-6th September 2018

I am never ill. Except this week I have been. I started feeling grotty on Tuesday and then took the day off work on Wednesday. It has been more than five years since I missed a day through illness (unless one counts recuperating from a general anaesthetic, which personally I don't). Accordingly, I tested the healing powers of elderberry wine on Wednesday and was back at work on Thursday.

As ever when trying my first bottle of elderberry wine from a new batch, it was too young, though promising. The taste has all sorts of sharp corners and angles that time will smooth.

If you want to see how I made this wine, click here (though my next blog post is very likely to be about how I made Elderberry 2018)

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Blackcurrant Wine 2015 - Twenty Second Bottle (D3), 31st August - 3rd September 2018

This started life as a Friday night bottle, but on the basis that we had cocktails and the remainder of a bottle of Prune & Parsnip to finish, it would have been disgraceful to empty it. We were two inches away from Disgraceful. But blackcurrant wine is so drinkable.

It was Monday when Claire finished this wine. I was at the Airedale's first rehearsal of this season bashing my way through patriotic nonsense written by Elgar & Walton. It was only ever so slightly disappointing to find the bottle empty on my return.