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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.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Vanilla Wine - The Making Of ...

A couple of weeks ago I was idly flicking through CJJ Berry when my eye was caught by 'Vanilla Wine'. I had never noticed this before, and - of course - this is the obvious choice for a wine beginning with 'V'. Yet, looking through the recipe, there is a glaring omission. For a vanilla wine, there is a distinct lack of vanilla. It called for rhubarb (six pounds), lemon (two) and hawthorn blossom (a gallon). This required serious amendment if I was to genuinely tick off the letter V. I decided that 8 pints of hawthorn blossom was ridiculous, so I have used three pints instead, and substituted a vanilla pod for the remainder. Otherwise I have (mostly) kept to CJJ Berry's ingredients and totally ignored his method.

Hawthorn Blossom on its tree
I picked the rhubarb from Julia's allotment on 10th May. This was only two days after she had died, and I found it almost too emotional. I have since been back to net her redcurrants, and that was much better. Anyway, today - Sunday 11th May - I ventured out to Stonegate Fields to pick the hawthorn blossom. Getting three pints took a fair while and having a measuring jug with me proved to be a Good Thing. I wasn't too fussy about stems or, indeed, leaves. Each pint came from a different tree, and I made a token effort only to pick open blossom, tending towards those with pink stamens.

3 Pints of Hawthorn Blossom plus a random bluebell
At home, I chopped the 6 lbs rhubarb into small pieces and put it in the bucket with 3 lbs sugar. I sliced the vanilla pod lengthways down the middle and chucked that in too. The lemons were peeled thinly and then squeezed, with both peel and juice being added.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Pod
I boiled seven pints of water and poured this into the bucket. This all sat for about ninety minutes before I tipped in the hawthorn blossom. I probably should have waited until the water cooled, but I was worried about the flowers shrivelling and turning brown.

Vanilla Wine in its Bucket

The yeast and teaspoons of nutrient and pectolase went in on Monday morning and I put the liquid into its demijohn on Friday evening, 16th May. Seven pints of water was too much. Six would have done. The wine is its usual rhubarb pink. I had a taste, and at this stage it is mostly unpleasant. Let's hope that it matures nicely.

Vanilla Wine in its Demijohn
If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here