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, 17 July 2018

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - Second Bottle (5), 6th July 2018

Memory and expectations combined can play odd tricks. I had remembered this wine as very good and therefore expected it to be so. Claire had remembered it to be poor with matching expectations. We were both confounded. For Claire, this was a pleasant bottle; for me it was on the right side of drinkable. The sherry flavour is too pronounced - more so than Prune & Parsnip. We agreed it should be a mid-week bottle.

It being a delightful evening, we ate and drank outside and stared into our ever-diminishing pond. Claire caught a flash of gold - we have a new fish! The Thieving Bastard Heron did not manage to eat them all.

The Thieving Bastard Heron in our pond

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - First Bottle (B2), 5th July 2018

Well, what a splendid vintage of blackcurrant wine this is. I think even Duncan might like it. Where blackcurrant wine is usually the sharpest of my reds, this one is your actual smooth and the taste is an explosion of fruit.

We had the entire bottle on a Thursday evening, which is not our standard practice. However, when Claire came home from work she announced that she was grouchy for no good reason and I wondered if wine might help. It did. It usually does. As did an episode of Midsomer Murders, where the body count was a frankly disappointing 'one'.

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

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Cherry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

On Saturday 7th July, back in the days when the country was still excited about the World Cup, Claire and I did our weekly shopping in Chapel Allerton. They have the world's smallest and busiest greengrocers there, where you have to fight your way through the crowds to select onions and then have a fifteen minute queue stretching out the door to pay. It was whilst waiting in this line that I noticed there were several 2kg boxes of cherries being sold for £3.50 each. I couldn't resist. I have only made cherry wine once before and that was five years ago. It was one of the best wines that I have ever made, so even though buying wine ingredients from a shop in July feels like cheating, I took a box of cherries with me.

A 2kg box of cherries
The same afternoon, I removed stalks from the cherries, weighed the fruit in Imperial measurements (4 lbs 7 oz - this is a pound and a half less than I used when making cherry wine before, so I suspect this one won't be as good) and washed them. As with last time, I did not de-stone the cherries. Instead I put them in my bucket and gave them a good mash, which was difficult to begin with but got easier. I poured in 3 lbs of sugar and covered this with 6 pints of boiling water, giving it all a stir. The bucket was then left for two days.

Cherries after mashing, before water and sugar is added
On Monday night, I took the cherry pulp out of the liquid (using a colander first and then a jug and sieve), straining the liquid into my biggest pan. I boiled this up - creating a scum on top - and then poured it all back into the bucket, scum and all.

On Tuesday morning, 10th July (England was still excited about football) I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of citric acid, pectolase and nutrient. I also had a sip of the liquid, which was insipid rather than bursting with cherry flavour. Hmmm.

This morning, Saturday 14th July (where England's World Cup hopes are but a distant memory) I have put the wine into its demijohn. I poured this through a sieve, removing some scum. There looks to be a large sediment, but the wine is a lovely cherry-red colour.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Rose Petal & Orange Wine - First Bottle (1), 2nd July 2018

This is a fabulous bottle of wine and definitely one to make again. The rose flavour is detectable without being overpowering and the orange gives it a zing. There is something refreshing and light about this wine.

Though it is a Monday night, we are technically on holiday, so having a bottle of wine is Fine. Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary, so we spent it in a posh hotel near Yarm. Today we stopped at Leake Church on the A19, something I have been meaning to do for a decade, and for which we had time today. It is a charming church with a twelfth-century tower, surrounded by eighteenth and nineteenth century gravestones, and well worth a stop.

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

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Strawberry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

On Monday 2nd July, rather than being at work, I spent my day eating breakfast at Crathorne Hall, drinking coffee in Yarm, investigating a Norman church just off the A19 and picking strawberries in Horsforth. It had been our twentieth wedding anniversary the day before and a suitable day for a holiday. Glorious weather too - though it has been glorious for two months now. I cannot remember a summer like this one.

Strawberry plants at the Pick Your Own
I went to pick strawberries by myself, which turned out to be a Good Thing. When I arrived at last year's Pick Your Own field, there was a large sign saying it had moved, with a corresponding post-code but no further address. Happily Claire was at home and googled the post-code for me, thus avoiding a frustrating and fruitless trip.

The Pick Your Own was not particularly busy and the strawberries (Florence variety) were abundant. Most the other people there were mothers with pre-school children having an afternoon out and trying to convince their charges to pick rather than eat the fruit. I wanted 5 lbs of strawberries - four for this batch and one for a mixed fruit wine later in the year, and came home with nearly six.

My haul of strawberries
I washed and hulled the four pounds I needed for strawberry wine (freezing the remainder) and mashed them in the bucket - turning them into a pink offal-like consistency. I poured over four pints of boiling water and then left it all until the following day, Tuesday 3rd July.

Strawberries in the bucket, pre-mashing

On Tuesday I took the pulp from the liquid, firstly using a colander and putting the pulp in a plastic bowl and then pouring the liquid into a demijohn through my nylon sieve and funnel, again retaining the pulp. I poured two pints of cold water over the pulp and swirled it round a bit. This sat infusing while I cleaned and sterilised my bucket. I then separated the pulp from the new liquid, putting the liquid in the bucket and discarding the pulp, and poured the strawberry juice in the demijohn back into the bucket.

Strawberries in pureed form
I added 3 lbs of sugar, the yeast and a teaspoon each of tannin, pectolase and nutrient. This frothed away to itself over the next four days and I stirred it occasionally.

I poured the liquid into its demijohn on Saturday 7th July, leaving sufficient space at the top to avoid any overspill during its most active fermentation, keeping some back in a bottle for topping up. Its colour is more pink and less post-box red than I think is usual.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (1), 30th June 2018

I took this bottle to Karen's Chamber Music Party in Ilkley. Claire was playing quartets by Schumann and Mozart, and I was the designated drinker. It was a lovely evening and civilised way to spend a Saturday - listening to string quartets whilst knocking back the wine. The strawberry wine was mostly drunk by me and Sophie - who thought it particularly good. Quite rightly too. Strawberry wine is one of my best. It is stuffed with strawberry flavour but stays on the right side of 'dry' and has a beneficial fizz. What's not to like?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fifth Bottle (A2), 27th-28th June 2018

Having had a weekend of concerts, I am now in that summer period where there are no orchestras to dash to on weekday evenings. This meant a leisurely Wednesday night, where our meal was lamb chops and three sorts of salad, plus most a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti, which I think is improving with age. Lots of fruit flavours and a strong hint of rose. We watched an old episode of Doctor Who on the sofa - Donna Noble's first appearance in The Runaway Bride - entertaining fluff. On Thursday Claire was out playing string quartets so I took it upon myself to finish the bottle.