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 September 2014

Blackcurrant Wine - Second Bottle (2), 26th September 2014

I came home from town on Friday evening, having had three bottles of beer, to find that Claire had started on the blackcurrant wine. Which is obviously fair enough. Despite mixing beer and wine never being a great idea, I poured myself a glass as soon as I got in, and we spent a pleasant while in the kitchen as Claire cooked curry. Having lower expectation of the wine this time, it was better than the previous bottle. Light & fruity. I finished my share of the bottle while watching Marvellous, a biopic starring Toby Jones. It was on the right side of sentimental and was, indeed, marvellous.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Fourth Bottle (A5), 24th-25th September 2014

This was a classic mid-week bottle, where nothing remarkable happened, other than Claire finding a mummified mouse in her handbag. We assume that the cats brought it in some time ago.

I opened the bottle on Wednesday to drink infront of The Great British Bake Off, which continues to be lovely, and then finished it on Thursday. The wine was its usual reliable self - apple-y and a little fizzy - and there is not much more to say on the matter. So I won't.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Elderberry Wine 2011 - Final Bottle (B2), 21st September 2014

Claire asked me to open the best bottle of red that I had. This elderberry was the natural choice. She had cooked a steak & kidney pudding, and the process took the entire weekend. Hence needing something rather special. The food was excellent. I can never again protest that I do not like kidney. It was a meaty, succulent dish full of rich flavours and stodge. The wine was a perfect accompaniment. My first taste was metallic, but thereafter it was superb: rich and deep and distinctly alcoholic. This has rounded off a fabulous day, which started with bassoon quartets in Wetherby and has had elderberry picking, a lazy afternoon and Doctor Who thrown in. And Claire has just served dessert. Can life get much better?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Gooseberry & Elderflower Wine - Seventh Bottle (A3), 17th-20th September 2014

My attempts to be witty can sometimes get me into trouble. On Wednesday evening, at WYSO, we were rehearsing the orchestral part to Weber's bassoon concerto. Amy isn't coming to do the solo part until October and Nick asked if I wanted to fill in. In a mock disappointed tone, I said that I didn't have the music. The librarian leapt to her feet and presented it to me - so I spent the night busking my way through a concerto. And I loved it. It was all very approximate; and impressionist painting of a concerto; but I came away feeling that I had left a job well done. I have been smiling about it for days. After that, a bottle of nasty wine could only disappoint.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Rose Petal Wine - Fourth Bottle (A4), 14th September 2014

I wanted to take something nice to Ros's and chose Rose Petal as a likely contender. Ros had invited us for Sunday lunch. When I checked my diary and found I was busy in the early afternoon, Ros explained that Sunday Lunch in the Lehany household meant a good while after six in the evening.

Claire and I walked over, through Gledhow Valley Wood, and were greeted by a couple of generous gins. The roast lamb was delicious too. I, of course, ate and drank too much, but had a lovely evening in which we narrowed the shortlist of trees to dedicate to Julia. The wine was fine, if not excellent, and I noticed that Alex only had one glass.

A potential tree for Julia - popular with bees and pyramid in shape

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Elderberry Wine 2014 - The Making Of ...

Elderberries near Castle Howard
I have picked my elderberries in stages this year. The first lot were picked in Hookstone Forest near Harrogate on a sunny Sunday afternoon while Claire was at a wool festival. After some searching, I found a tree laden with fruit and picked well over a pound in about 15 minutes.

The next lot were picked on the verge of a track leading to the Yorkshire Arboretum. We were there to choose a tree for Julia in commemoration of a life lived well. I guessed, correctly, that there would be no elders in the Arboretum, on account of their prolific thuggishness, but was keen to involve Julia in this wine. There was only one suitable elder even leading up to it. While I was picking berries a Castle Howard gardener came through a gate and told me I needed the land-owner's permission for foraging. We then had a conversation about elder trees in general and elderberry wine in particular, and he allowed me to continue with barely a harumph.

My final set of elderberries came from trees close to home, mostly on the way to Meanwood. Stonegate Fields had too few, and I suspect this is my fault for over-picking elderflowers, but I found some good trees near Potternewton Lane.

With all my picking I ended up with 5 lbs 14 oz berries, and I judged this to be enough. Stripping them was made bearable by Radio 4 and the Dum Tee Dum podcast, and I eventually removed the juices staining my hands. (NB - If you click the link, and fast forward to 43:46, you will hear me ring in, and then a huge discussion of home-made wine. It is officially very funny. And then I appear right at the end at 57:00 - ish)

My stained left hand
I crushed the berries on Sunday afternoon, 14th September, in a two hour slot I had after playing a trio with Madeleine in St Edmund's Church and before going to Ros's for a roast. In this time I also made a chilli, washed up and bottled my lemon & lime wine, which was some going. I added 5 lbs sugar and 12 pints of boiling water to the crushed elderberries. On Monday morning I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase.

Elderberry Wine and Fuschias - a still life (with foot)
I didn't have an opportunity until Saturday morning, 20th September, to put this into its demijohns. It was an early morning job: I sieved out the elderberries, filling two demijohns while listening to the Today programme, which was dominated by discussions of Scotland's 'No to Devolution' vote. I think I'm pleased with the decision, but I fear the political games that David Cameron will now play. Anyway, the elderberry wine is in its demijohns, bubbling away, and as ever is pleasingly purple.
Pleasingly Purple

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.