Greetings

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.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Blackberry Wine - Third Bottle (A5), 12th-13th September 2014

I was on a Work Night Out on Friday, so Claire (who fancied something red) opened this bottle. My evening was spent in 'The Roxy'; classy name and equally classy establishment. I was hit by a wall of noise when I went in and just wanted to turn round and walk out again. Things improved, marginally, when we were shown to a private room where I played pool and table tennis and drank more beer than was sensible.

We finished this bottle on Saturday after the first Music Club of the season where Pat, Peter and I performed adequately, but the highlight was Dawn singing songs of dream and sleep.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Sixth Bottle (B2), 10th-11th September 2014

Prune & Parsnip is a good bottle anyway, but I think it is at its best when cold. The chill counterbalances its heavy sherry taste.

I stuck this bottle in the fridge on Wednesday evening before a Brahms rehearsal at WYSO and we opened it to watch The Great British Bake Off  on our return. This meant a late night, and late nights are beginning to catch up with me. This is the second week in a row when I have been out every week-day night; mostly playing the bassoon. Checking my diary I see that I am out every night next week as well. At least three of those are with Claire - otherwise she might forget what I look like.

Anyway, we didn't finish the bottle on Wednesday, but I drank enough to give me a thumping headache for much of Thursday. The last couple of glasses were drunk on Thursday after I came back from Pat & Peter's and the final rehearsal before a Music Club performance on Saturday.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Elderflower Wine - Second Bottle (A2), 7th-10th September 2014

On Sunday Claire dragged me to the British Wool Festival in Harrogate. Rather than spend the £8 entrance fee to look at coloured yarn, I spent my time outside in Hookstone Forest foraging for berries. I need more blackberries for the freezer, and elderberries are mostly ripe. It was a lovely way to spend Sunday midday and did not involve overpriced wool, though Claire came out with stacks of the stuff.

In the evening we drank most of a bottle of elderflower wine to curries made from lamb and potatoes.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Blackberry Wine 2014 - The Making Of ...


In the dying days of August summer has returned. Much of the month has been cool and damp, and the central heating has been on more than once. However, this weekend has seen bright, hot sunshine and skies of a late-summer blue. This made picking blackberries a delight. As ever for blackberry wine, Claire and I are in York and we ventured into the Victorian Cemetery on Sunday morning, 31st August, armed with baskets and bags. We set our watches at 11 and arranged to meet back at the car at quarter past noon.


Initially picking was slow; the blackberries were small and we were obviously not the first to gather fruit. Once I left the main paths, however, and started climbing into bramble patches and balancing on grave stones, collecting berries became faster and more satisfying. At 12:15 Claire and I met, compared our spoils and departed for another half hour's foraging. In the end I came away with 7 lbs exactly and Claire picked nearly six.


Graves to mention are Walter Rymer, John Carr, Ada Jane Duckitt, Alexander and Isabella Nortman Druthett, and Florence Charlton.

Blackberries and sugar
Back in Leeds, I measured 12 lbs of blackberries (having finally worked out that I can weigh fruit in larger containers than the scale pan, making this a quicker, less sticky process) crushed these in my bucket, threw in 7½ lbs of sugar and poured over 15½ pints of boiling water. On Monday morning I added the yeast (a red wine yeast) and 2 teaspoons each of pectolase and nutrient.

Blackberries fermenting
I left this in its bucket until Saturday, 6th September, stirring occasionally. Then on Saturday, which has been a quiet day in which I finished an excellent book about conscientious objectors in the First World War (We Will Not Fight by Will Ellsworth-Jones) and watched the drizzle from indoors, I put the wine into its three demijohns. As with Fig Wine, I began by dredging the fruit with a collander and then switched to the 'sieve over a funnel' technique. There was some spillage and I could have added another half pint of water at the beginning. But it is now fermenting away in its demijohns and is its usual attractive dark red colour.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Apple Wine - First Bottle (3), 3rd-5th September 2014

Claire thinks this wine tastes of disinfectant. I think that is unfair. Admittedly, it is not my greatest wine ever, but it doesn't reach into the realms of awful.  This apple wine is dry and without a distinctive apple taste. So its greatest crime is dullness and not disinfectant.

We drank half the bottle after WYSO's first rehearsal of Brahms 4, which is a wonderful symphony and for a first rehearsal was not badly played. I had my last glass on Friday after having spent the day watching England beat India at cricket. This was my first live cricket match and I enjoyed it immensely - as much for the crowd as the game. England supporters dress as traffic cones, the Knights Templar and the entire Star Wars cast. The Indians were just as colourful.

If you want to see how I made this wine, click here

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Fig Wine - The Making Of ...

My parents' fig tree ...
 Ever since I began making wine I have been watching the fig tree at my parents' house with interest. Every year it has produced a disappointing number of figs. That is until this year, in which we had no winter to speak of and a hot summer. The tree has been abundant with fruit and there was plenty with which to make wine.

My father has been collecting figs since late July and putting them in the freezer. He rang Claire one evening to check if bird-pecked figs would be acceptable. She assured him they would and who am I to argue?
... with abundant fruit
So today, 29th August, I collected 5 lbs 6 oz of figs from York and have brought them back to Leeds to make wine. I do not have a recipe, so have made it up. The number and weight of figs looked plausible, so I have cut them into pieces and put them in my bucket. Despite being mostly green on the outside, figs are surprisingly purple inside and I am reconsidering my choice of yeast accordingly.
Figs: green on the outside ...
I mashed the figs a little, poured over 6 pints of boiling water and added 3 lbs of sugar. On Saturday morning, 30th August, I put in the yeast (a red wine variety) and a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase, citric acid and tannin - which is basically every chemical I own.
... but purple inside
I transferred the liquid into its demijohn on Tuesday 2nd September, which is a little earlier than I would normally have done, but this week is proving to be a busy one. Over the last few days I have noticed a thick near-soupy texture to the wine when stirring. Guessing (correctly) that this would make the straining process long and tedious, I began by fishing out the figs with a plastic collander. This saved me some time but the whole sieving experience took longer than I had wanted.

The wine has an unusual colour - dark pink with a hint of brown. It does not have a great taste at the this stage. There is a nutty trace that bodes ill. Still, I can now tick the letter F off my alphabet.
Fig Wine in its demijohn - 4 days after straining. The 'hint of brown' has gone

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (C2), 30th August 2014

This was a cracking bottle of wine - intense blackberry taste, fizzy and light. It reminds me why, when asked, I describe blackberry as my favourite flavour.

We drank this bottle in York, where I am visiting because it is the bramble picking weekend. I took the opportunity to ask my mother to tip a large pan of cold water over my head. Yes, I have succumbed to the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of Motor Neurone Disease. Nominated by my first cousin once removed, Adam, I ummed and ahhed, but decided that the arguments for outweighed those against, and consequently got cold and wet in classic slapstick manner.

video
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here