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.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Strawberry Wine - The Making Of ...

Yet again, I struck lucky with the weather for my annual strawberry picking. Sunday, 3rd July has been virtually cloudless and hot. Accordingly, I covered all exposed bits with Factor 40, donned my Hat and set off.

The first surprise of the day was that there was a sign at the entrance setting out fees for picking. Not the cost of the fruit, but a price for proceeding past the notice. I was ready to get indignant. The fruit is expensive enough as it is - I could get it cheaper at the market, but picking my own reaches out to my inner hunter-gatherer. And I have been coming here for years. However, the woman at the desk read my face and waved me through, explaining that it was to stop coach parties who arrived, ate, and left again.

The second surprise was how thin on the ground (literally) the strawberries were. Unlike previous years' egg-sized fruit, the strawberries were small, sparse and mostly either over or under-ripe. I suspect that this is partly down to over-picking, but also the exceptionally dry spring may be a partial explanation. It took an age to pick all I needed - I wanted an extra 2 lbs for a future 'Crab Apple and Strawberry' but came away with 5 lbs 9 oz.

Some slightly out of focus strawberries
Once home I weighed 4 lbs of fruit, pulling off the greenery as I went and chopping out the mankiest bits, whilst listening to 'The Admirable Creighton' (Crichton?) on Radio 4. Once in the bucket I mashed the strawberries, poured over 4 pints of boiling water and added 3 lbs of sugar.

Some rather more in focus strawberries
On Monday evening, after a barbeque in Guiseley with the Airedale Symphony Orchestra, I strained the liquid into a demijohn, keeping back the pulp. As dictated by the recipe I mixed this with two pints of tap water and let it stand whilst I washed, rinsed and resterilised the bucket. I then strained it again into the bucket, sloshed another half pint of water round the pan that had held the pulp, and then poured the contents of the demijohn in. I added yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase, but I have not yet added any tannin as I have run out. By tragic coincindence, I have also run out of tea.

I put the wine into its demijohn on Sunday, 10th July, which is two or three days later than I would normally have done this. But the last week has been manic and I have been out every night. There was a pint too much liquid (I added a mug of cold tea on Wednesday morning). and the taste I got at this stage was insipid. Which is disappointing.