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.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Strawberry Wine 2013 - Final Bottle (2), 27th August 2016

What better way to kick off a bank holiday weekend than with a bottle of strawberry wine? How about a six mile walk home from work? This is only the second time I have walked back since we moved house, and the return journey feels longer and slower than the same walk in the opposite direction. It made the strawberry wine all the more welcome (and effective) and there was no problem at all in finishing the bottle.

Having left this vintage over a year since the last bottle, I was interested to see if there would be any difference. It is, of course, difficult to remember, but I don't think there was. The wine was as full flavoured and rounded as ever. Strawberry is a great wine.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Fig Wine - Final Bottle (1), 24th August 2016

Pop came over to stay as a prelude to his and Mom's adventure in the Far East. He flies to Nebraska tomorrow, meeting up with Mom. In a few weeks they go to Japan and then China. Mom says that this will be their last big trip and Pop hopes this to be true.

It was a wonderful evening, part of which was spent drinking Fig wine in the garden and all of which was spent in good natured conversation about nothing very much. I am exceedingly lucky in my parents and I like them tremendously. My father is a Good Man and the person I strive to be.

The man I strive to be

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Final Bottle (B2), 21st-24th August

On Sunday night, Claire and I had another blind gin taste test, to see if the results from our last experiment (maybe a year ago) still held true. We tried two posh Lake District gins against Gordons. Neat, there was a barely discernable difference. With tonic there was none at all. This is pleasing - from now on it is cheap gin for us.

Much of the crab apple wine followed this and half a bottle of Blackberry between us. On a Sunday night this was a bit too much and Monday was spent feeling slightly delicate. Still, I survived to have the rest of the wine over Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Blackberry Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (C3), 20th-21st August 2016

It is unusual to drink half a bottle of wine once one has returned from a restaurant. On Saturday night, Claire and I ventured out to a new pizza restaurant on Street Lane, with it Neopolitan wood-fired pizzas. Sounded fabulous. There was, however, a distinct lack of a wine list. The place was not licensed, so I made the best of a bad situation by having a non-alcoholic cocktail involving mango and ginger beer. Within minutes of our food arriving a small boy at the next table vomited profusely. Beige liquid showered out of his mouth, and the restaurant was quickly filled with the smell of Dettol as waitresses came running with mops. We ate quickly, rushed home and opened a bottle.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - Second Bottle (6), 14th August 2016

I overheard Claire tell Rachel "I think this is the best wine Ben has ever made". Now, I don't think I would go quite that far, but it is excellent (if one ignores the murky, floaty things at the bottom of the bottle). It is a sharp, fresh taste and the colour is a shining pink. We drank it over a lazy Sunday meal, involving pork and pommegranate molasses after a lazy Sunday afternoon in which I mowed the lawn (a mammoth task, made harder by having left it for four weeks), baked bread and made wine. So perhaps not that lazy afterall.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Blackcurrant Wine and Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Wine - The Making Of...

Blackcurrants & honeysuckle & rocket
This year has been less prolific in terms of blackcurrants than last. The fruit has also been later and I wonder if the two are connected. My (undoubtedly false) memories of last year reveal handfuls of blackcurrants being plucked from our bushes daily from July to August. This summer has required more work, with half a pound being collected once every four or five days. In total our bushes have produced 5 lbs and 7 oz and that is not enough for a double batch.

Our blackcurrant bushes

Blackcurrants & Hydrangea
Claire suggested bulking out the fruit with our gooseberries, so that is what I have done. The gooseberries have also been a little disappointing. I got excited in April, seeing how many flowers we had and how unaffected by sawfly our goosberries were. But I think in total I harvested fewer than 2 lbs. Nevermind - next year should be better.

So, what I have done is make one demijohn of pure blackcurrant wine, for which I needed 3 lbs of blackcurrants, and one demijohn of blackcurrant & gooseberry wine, which has 2 lbs blackcurrants and 1 lb gooseberries (a mix of green and red). The method has been the same in each case.
The mix of blackcurrants and gooseberries
On Sunday, 14th August, I defrosted the fruit and put each batch in a different bucket. I mashed these with a potato masher, until the fruit had become a pulpy paste. For each, I dissolved 3 lbs of sugar in 5½ pints of water. I brought this to the boil and poured it over the fruit. For the pure blackcurrant, this water was exactly right. The other could have had about a quarter of a pint more.

The fruit in each bucket before mashing
Next morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon of nutrient and pectolase to each bucket.

I should have put both wines into their demijohns on Friday night, but it was Book Group (Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - excellent). Instead, I did this on Saturday morning in between last night's washing-up and having breakfast. Making wine in one's pyjamas suggests a dissolute lifestyle.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Third Bottle (C6), 13th August 2016

We were treated to an evening of experimental food at Richard and Linda's on Saturday night. The crab-cakes were so delicious; sweet, tender meat fried to perfection; that we ordered Richard back into the kitchen to cook some more. This was followed by aubergine, tomato and feta grilled in slices with a potato salad. Our pudding was a summer-berry cake with hazlenut icecream (home-made). I brought a bottle of rose petal wine to the table, forgetting that this has not been Richard's favourite flavour in the past. This vintage is superior, though, and Richard claimed to enjoy it.