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.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Seventh Bottle (B2), 25th November 2016

This was a grand bottle of crab apple wine - the apple flavour was unmistakable and it slipped down very nicely indeed. It may have contained a sleeping-draught, however. I was in bed before nine and asleep shortly afterwards. I put this down to my busy week (returning from Amsterdam and then a frantic three days in the office) but I have woken full of cold and feeble. I am also still bobbing about as if on the High Seas, despite my 16 hour crossing ending on Tuesday morning. Now is a poor time to spend more than a weekend ill, so fingers crossed for a rapid recovery.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (6), 24th November 2016

Thanksgiving was at Richard & Linda's this year, so I took a bottle of Strawberry and Claire took the pumpkin pie (which was fresh from the oven - she had to wear oven gloves in the car). Richard thought the wine was drier than previous years and had more body to it , and I think both observations were correct. It is a lovely wine, and it is a shame I could only have a small glass.

The evening was excellent with two genuine Americans there (Linda and Cindy) and more food that would fit on the table. Everyone was sent home with a box of left-overs.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Apple & Strawberry Wine - The Making Of...

Our tree now it is winter
Now that it is late November, I no longer need to use a ladder, a rake and some precarious balancing to collect apples from our back garden. A quick poke about on the lawn will do the job nicely. The apple tree is still laden with fruit waiting to fall and is a popular meeting place for blackbirds. This afternoon, 27th November, I saw a squirrel leap into the tree's branches, scurry to the top, pick an apple, scurry to a midway point and then spend five minutes nibbling at it. He didn't finish the apple, though. Just dropped it casually into the flower beds. There are squirrels starving in Africa who would be grateful for that food.

Our lawn on a typical day in late November
I chose my apples from the windfalls carefully, making sure that I avoided those pecked by birds or consumed by slugs. This was easier than I had imagined and I should remember that if I am going to use our apples for wine in the future, late November is the time to do it. I needed 4 lbs of apples, which translated to 25 in number, and once picked, I washed them twice.

Some of the apples that made it into the mix
My 1 lb of strawberries came from the freezer, saved specially for this occasion. I gave them about five hours to defrost before starting to make this wine. When I crushed them with a potato masher in the bucket, the strawberries were still firm, but not solid, so mashing was effective.

What 1 lb of frozen strawberries looks like
I cut each of the apples into quarters and then tossed them into the food processor, using the 'slice' attachment. Only one of the apples had been attacked by some insect, and I cut the core out of this one (which looked suspiciously like it contained eggs). Otherwise I used the whole apple removing only the stalk. They all then went into my bucket in which I had crushed the strawberries

I added 3 lbs of sugar and poured over six and a half pints of boiling water, giving it all a thorough stir. The yeast, pectolase and nutrient all went in the same night, when the wine had cooled to 32 degrees Celcius.

An overview of the demijohn and some windfalls
The wine was transferred to its demijohn on Thursday evening, 1st December, before I watched the final episode of The Missing (superb television). This was done using the usual collander-then-jug-and-sieve method. Its colour started off peachy, but 24 hours later it is more pink. The wine made its bid for freedom shortly after being enclosed in the demijohn, but I managed to beat it back with a teaspoon. (This was done by scooping out the most aggressive froth from the demijohn's neck and that seemed to fettle it.)

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Recurrant Wine - Final Bottle (A1), 15th-16th November 2016

When opening a bottle on a Tuesday night, one requires a 'Punishment Wine': that is, a wine which is likely to be slightly unpleasant so one can reflect on one's lack of temperance while drinking it. This final bottle of Redcurrant fitted the bill splendidly. It had the taste of a fruit wine that had aged too long. So, the base flavour was beyond subtle which meant that only a thin dryness remained. It was drinkable, but not with any delight. Still, that is this batch of disappointing redcurrant finished and (despite having a plant in the garden) I suspect it will be many years before I make another.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Elderberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (A5), 13th November 2016

I gave Claire her free pick of reds and she chose Elderberry. We had just returned from an afternoon Airedale Symphony Orchestra concert and needed a drink. The concert was mostly very good, with Dvorak's violin concerto the highlight., but too long. We could easily have done without the Polonaise and Waltz from Eugene Onegin and no-one would have gone home thinking that there was just not enough music.

The wine was excellent - elderberry gets smoother with age - and was partly drunk to a beef cobbler and partly drunk sat in front of the stove, where I finished my book: The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (3), 12th November 2016

What a genuinely excellent bottle of wine this is. Dry, pink, clear and refreshing. It has a strong strawberry taste, but the crab apple sharpens it, making the wine greater than the sum of its parts. We drank it to a Bolivian Chicken Pie that I made.

Claire spent the afternoon at the Otley Science Fair, showing people their cheek cells, so I was in charge of cooking. Being an adventurous soul, I dug out the Latin American cook book and chose something complicated - cross between a pie and a souffle with added corn. Just as I was pleased with the wine, I was proud of the result. When cooking goes right, I can really enjoy it.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Orange Wine - Eighth Bottle (B1), 10th-11th November 2016

I drank rather too much on Friday - not quite half a bottle of orange wine and two whisky macs. But this is my reaction to this week's news. Actually my other reaction is to stop watching the news - it is entirely depressing and I can do nothing about it. So why put myself through that, other than the dubious virtue of 'Bearing Witness'? It isn't that Trump is going to be the next president (which is awful in itself) but that people were inspired by hate and fear and xenophobia and misogyny. Individually, people tend to be alright or better. Collectively we are a terrible, terrible species.