I am always pleased when May comes round. Not only is it the month that all trees put out their leaves, looking fresh and green, but it is the first proper month for wine making. One can do April wines - dandelion or nettle - but honestly, why bother? May marks rhubarb season, and that is always a winner.
Today, 6th May, it also marked 'wedding season'. I spent this afternoon playing bassoon quartets at a wedding reception in York. Most people will have a tasteful string quartet, if they have anything, playing Pachelbel's Canon. This bride showed originality and had four bassoons instead, playing Teddy Bear's Picnic and The Pink Panther. It was glorious fun and I hope we went down well.
Earlier this morning I went to Julia's allotment to pick the rhubarb. It was a sunny morning, but chilly for May. I helped net some blackcurrant bushes, to prevent the local pigeons getting fatter, and was then let loose on the rhubarb. I needed six pounds for a double batch and picking this amount proved little effort. I like the way rhubarb stalks come up with a slight 'pop' as the base separates from the plant. There were some very butch stalks and I came away with seven pounds - the remaining rhubarb is in the freezer, possibly awaiting a batch of 'rhubarb and elderflower'.
After the wedding I chopped the rhubarb into pieces of about one centimetre and put it into the bucket. I covered this with fourteen and a half pints of boiling water (I think - I may have lost count with the jugs of water). Six pounds of sugar, the yeast and one and a half teaspoons of nutrient went in the next day.
I put this all in its two demijohns on Friday evening, 11th May. This was a sticky process which took the entirety of Any Questions on Radio 4. Perhaps I should have listened to Radio 3 instead. Any Questions is a tedious programme full of self-important pomposity.
The wine is its usual little-girl-pink, and I have (as always) put one batch in a brown glass demijohn and covered the other demijohn in silver foil so as to preserve the colour. The amount of water I used proved to be just about perfect, though the frothy top of the wine is escaping through the air locks. Therefore, keeping the wine in the batch is justified on this occasion.