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, 29 December 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - First Bottle (A6), 25th-26th December 2015

We started this Tutti Fruti at the end of our Christmas meal. It is a sweet vintage, and too sweet for savoury food. Tasty, though. I can detect many autumn fruits and rose petals.

It has been a sedate Christmas, insofar as that can be true in the company of Taylors. We had a present lottery, and I got 400 post-it notes (quickly swapped for four pencils) and some anti-bacterial handwash. A great deal of thought and expense went into those gifts.

If you want to see how this wine was made, click here.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Final Bottle (B3), 25th December 2015

It is our first Christmas in the new house. Having four proper bedrooms and (now) four proper beds, we are hosting Bob, Judith, Andrew & Susanna. It is one of the things that I am most pleased about - having enough space for guests.

This is Judith's first Christmas in 46 years where she has not been doing the cooking. Claire took this role and produced an amazing, colourful Christmas feast. We had confit of duck, roast potatoes, red cabbage, mushy peas, cranberry sauce, nasty evil sprouts (I actually quite like them), four smeet balls, onion gravy and probably more besides. The wine was delicious too: fruity and rich. This vintage will be missed.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Ninth Bottle (C4), 19th December 2015

Our carpet has a red wine stain where Chris kicked over his bottle. I was most concerned about the loss of a glass of wine. The carpet is threadbare and stained anyway, and this is another reason to replace it. We shouldn't have opened this bottle, though - it was our third (between three) and seemed like a good idea at the time. Blackcurrant is delicious - Chris said so, so it must be true. Having so much to drink made for a poor night's sleep and a relatively sober Sunday.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Final Bottle (6), 19th December 2015

We started drinking once it was dark. At this time of year that means shortly after four. Chris was visiting and he and Claire had just made his bed. Literally. It was a flat-pack, self-assembly sofa bed. Mostly I stood around and watched.

Chris asked for something refreshing and dry. This wine is both of those things and is really rather good. It was a reward for a job well done.

I can recommend Nabru for self-assembly sofas.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Orange Wine - Ninth Bottle (B4), 15th-16th December 2015

One of the very worst things about Christmas is doing the Christmas shop. A week and a half ago, on a Sunday, Sainsburys was bedlam. Just awful. Therefore we did our main shop on Wednesday night and this was far better (except for the dreadful music piped through the aisles). Still, we deserved some alcohol after this, and there was most of a bottle of orange wine left in the fridge. It was welcome relief, and slipped down nicely as we watched an episode of Mad Men on DVD.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Blackberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (A6), 13th December 2015

It has been a long time since Claire and I had a quiet Sunday. But for the first time in months, we didn't have to go anywhere, paint anything or visit the tip with armfuls of junk. We did tidy the attic, but much of that was fun - consolidating personal history and looking through family albums, including letters written in the 1860s from one ancestor to another.

The wine was drunk quietly in front of the stove, as we watched flames dance around logs. Blackberry is a fine winter wine, made for evenings like this.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Seventh Bottle (B5), 12th December 2015

I have left this bottle in 14 Carr Manor Mount's fridge as a house-warming present for John. When we moved there in 1998 the previous owner, Jean, had left us a bottle of wine and it was just a really nice gesture. Crab apple wine was the natural choice - it having been made from the apples of the tree in the garden. I hope John drinks. Of more practical benefit, we have also left him a cooker, the fridge-freezer, a washing machine, two useful pans and the remnants of several tins of paint. Actually,  maybe that last one will sit in the attic for eternity.

In fact, there was only the one bottle

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Eighth Bottle (B5), 11th-12th December 2015

Claire opened this bottle while I was galavanting at the Work Christmas Do. It was in the Sky Lounge on the 13th floor of Double Tree Hilton, with floor to ceiling windows. The view across night-time Leeds was a carpet of points of light. But what most occupied my mind was our house-sale. John's solicitors sent the money on Friday morning, specifying the correct bank details, and the money has yet to arrive. A six figure sum is out there somewhere, floating in the ether. Though I have released keys anyway, we technically still own 14 Carr Manor Mount, and every time I think about possible consequences my stomach lurches.

None of that is about the wine, however. I managed a glass and a half in front of the stove on Saturday and enjoyed it.

The Sky Lounge during the day

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B6), 5th December 2015

Third bottles are often regrettable when there are four of you drinking, and this was no exception. Delicious - a really good red and I think it is the rose petals that do it - but regrettable. Too much of a good thing is still too much. It was a lovely night, though. Rachel & Duncan came over and we shared a roast chicken. The evening remains a bit of a blur, however. I can't understand why.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Final Bottle (A4), 5th December 2015

It was fitting that having had a bottle of rhubarb wine as our last bottle at our old house, our first bottle of home made wine at the new house should also be rhubarb. Different vintages, of course, and in fact our genuine first bottle was a velvety smooth red from Washington State.

Rachel and Duncan arrived with a chicken to roast in our new oven. Claire attended to this whilst I concentrated on the wine. I think we had finished the bottle before the chicken was out and carved, but we had to toast the house properly. It already feels like Home. The place is in chaos, there are boxes and books everywhere, I rarely get the right cupboard when looking for things in the kitchen. But it is ours, and we have already made our mark.


Friday, 11 December 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Sixth Bottle (A3), 1st December 2015

So, tonight is our last night at 14 Carr Manor Mount. We have lived here since April 1998 and it is therefore (just) the house at which I have lived the longest. I was going to open a real bottle of red, but Claire argued convincingly that a bottle made from garden ingredients would be more appropriate. And it is a good bottle - resembling real white.

The evening has been oddly normal, despite being surrounded by boxes and empty book cases. I have played on the computer, cleared up cat sick and am about to do the dishes. That is the way it should be.

Thank you House. You have been fantastic.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Elderberry Wine - Second Bottle (A6), 27th-29th November 2015

This was our final Thanksgiving bottle, opened on the Friday when we were entertaining Sooz, Andrew, Rachel & Duncan. To be honest, good as the wine was (and it is a fine vintage of elderberry wine, full of rich and dark flavours) it was a bottle too far. We drank half of it and I then spent a teetotal Saturday. This Saturday mostly involved the WYSO winter concert with Tchaikovsky's scary Fourth Symphony. My lip survived and I was moderately pleased with my solos.

Claire and I finished the bottle on Sunday after a day clearing the attic - a long job made all the less tedious by Rachel & Duncan forming an industrious chain.

A small proportion of the attic to clear

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Sixth Bottle (A3), 27th November 2015

Rachel and Duncan came for Thanksgiving II, which meant a bottle of rose petal wine was virtually obligatory. It is Rachel's favourite, and its sweet, perfumed taste went particularly well with the sweet potato, mashed with chilli and lime.

Earlier in the day the House came on in leaps and bounds. The kitchen is now fitted (though there is no electricity yet) and Andrew and I laid carpets. Both of these transform the place. Rather than looking like a building site, it now looks like a home. This is a good thing because we will be living there in less than a week.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Eighth Bottle (A1), 26th-27th November 2015

I opened this for our final bottle of Thanksgiving, and we finished it during Thanksgiving II. This year I bought a fairly small turkey (5.2 kg) and it did for two meals - thirteen hungry adults, of whom only one was a vegetarian. The leftovers are scant but not non-existent. I certainly enjoyed the blackcurrant wine (perhaps a little too much - I drank nothing alcoholic on Saturday) but I did not gauge anyone else's reaction. This suggests they enjoyed it.

Thanksgiving for vegetarians

Monday, 7 December 2015

Dandelion Wine - Second Bottle (6), 26th November 2015

What could possibly say 'Thanksgiving' more than a bottle of homemade Dandelion Wine? This was our first bottle of the evening after a round of whisky macs, and everyone thought it a 'Hit'. It is very reminiscent of sherry, though sherry with a touch of vegetable, and I was told that even Claire's grandmother might have approved. It being Thanksgiving we had a couple of Americans over - Linda and Rory, plus Richard (of course), Andrew and Sooz. It was a lovely evening with too much food and lots of good conversation. And Linda's pumpkin pie was the best I think she has ever done.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Orange Wine - Eighth Bottle (A3), 25th November 2015

I committed an act of moral repugnancy while drinking this bottle of orange wine. I wrote Christmas cards. In November. This is against all that I know to be good and true. Hence finishing a bottle of wine on a Wednesday night (and that I am now on holiday for a few days). Claire forced me into it - the Christmas cards, not the wine - arguing that we had to send cards early to let people know our new address. It just feels so wrong. Still, at least they are done - and I was able to drink orange wine in the process, so perhaps it isn't all bad.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Exotic Tinned Fruit - Final Bottle, 23rd-24th November 2015

I had remembered this flavour as being somewhat nasty with a chemical aftertaste. It was therefore a surprise to discover that leaving the wine for over three and a half years from making made it more than palatable. This has reached the realms of "rather good", and it is a shame that there are no more bottles left.

I was on holiday when this was opened, just for a day. I spent it painting a ceiling. I can think of better ways to spend a day off. But the move date approaches (rapidly) and the more ceilings painted, the better.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Seventh Bottle (A2), 21st-22nd November 2015

It is rare that I go to a concert in which I am not playing, but that was the case on Saturday night. Chris, the clarinettist in Tony's quintet, was the soloist in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with Harrogate Phil, and three-quarters of the remaining quintet were there to cheer him on. I felt properly nervous as Chris played but, of course, he was brilliant. At the end of long semiquaver passages he visibly gasped for air as a diver might coming up from ocean depths.

On our return I opened up a bottle of blackcurrant, and it was lovely with its alcoholic Ribena taste. We finished it on Sunday after I had spent most the day up a ladder painting an acre of ceiling.

This is not a clarinet.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Gooseberry & Elderflower Wine - Final Bottle (B3), 18th-19th November 2015

I think it has taken all twelve bottle and three years, but finally I thought this flavour was quite good. It fizzed on opening and had a dry & refreshing taste. Any mustiness was subtle (but not quite unnoticeable). The answer to horrible wine must be to leave it for several years before opening.

We started the wine on Wednesday night after WYSO (Mozart's 24th Piano Concerto - wonderful) and before Claire began her experiment to cure insomnia (basically don't try to go to sleep and when you do, sleep in a different bed to your husband). We finished it on Thusday, when Claire was feeling refreshed from a proper night's rest and I had been kept awake by Aggie wriggling, washing and scratching.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Blackberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (C6), 14th-15th November 2015

Concerts and floods were the dominant themes for this bottle.

I opened the blackberry wine after coming home from Music Club, where Bill, Theresa and I had played a suite by Swan Hennesy. We only played moderately well and I was cross with Bill for getting a beat ahead and then missing a repeat. Still, the blackberry wine opened with a 'pop' and sparkled.

We finished the bottle on Sunday after returning from ASO's concert in Ilkley, which was Elgar's tedious Second Symphony. Getting to Ilkley was a challenge. The Wharfe had burst its banks and we had to approach Ilkley over the moor. Rose'y couldn't get there at all so the concert was made all the more interesting by a first bassoon sight-reading his part.

Flooding approaching Ilkley

Monday, 23 November 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Sixth Bottle (C3), 13th November 2015

I shouldn't really have finished this bottle. It was a Friday night and I had drunk very little through the (rather stressful) week. But we started the evening with a glass of rhubarb wine and then Claire had no more than a couple of glasses from this bottle. It wasn't even as if I particularly wanted the rest - but I justified empying it on the basis that there was 'only' a glass and a half left.

The wine was a very ordinary Crab Apple and Friday night was a very ordinary end-of-week night. So, nothing to laugh at at all.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Fifth Bottle (B6), 12th-13th November 2015

Dan Benn, our wonderful bathroom fitter, gave me strict instructions to give Claire lots of wine on Thursday night. The latest thing to go wrong with the House is the bathroom - the bath, the sink pedestal and the radiator have all had to be returned to the supplier for being substandard (scratches and cracks mostly). Claire is not finding this easy and is also hugely busy at work. So this bottle was wine as medication and it helped. I detected a slight cheese taste, however.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Prune & Parsnip - Seventh Bottle (B6), 7th-8th November 2015

One bottle is never enough when we have visitors, so our second bottle of the evening was Prune & Parsnip. Judith had made a marble chocolate cake and of the many available options, we thought this flavour would go the best. The unusual thing about the evening was that there was still half a bottle left at the end of it. The remainder helped our Sunday evening after another day of solid decorating for Claire. She is looking exhausted and is not sleeping properly. We will never move house again!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine - Third Bottle (B5), 7th November 2015

Claire had the idea that we should drink this wine with people who knew Julia. Bob and Judith were here this weekend, and whilst Judith never met her, Bob spend a number of Rydals in Julia's company.

The Aged Ps were here to help with the House, so Claire set the septuagenarians to work, stripping paint off skirting boards and painting undercoats onto walls. Judith brought the evening meal with her - casseroled pork - and the wine went well with it. It is a fabulous bottle, full of rich fruit flavours.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Apple Wine - Fourth Bottle (5), 5th-8th November 2015

This wine has improved on its keeping. The apple flavour is more pronounced and it has acquired a thickness of taste lacking in previous bottles. There are elements of a strong scrumpy, and that is unsurprising.

It was opened on a Thursday before Claire went to her string quartet. She had a headache that had lasted for more than a day and felt that a restorative glass of wine (or two) might be the answer. On Friday night I slurped greedily at Claire's glass, but could do no more as it was Book Group and I was driving (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: I loved it). We finished the remains on Sunday.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Tenth Bottle (A2), 1st November 2015

Slow cookers are excellent. Claire put some strips of braising steak, bits of kidney, some mushrooms, chopped onion, a clove of crushed garlic, a bayleaf and enough water to cover in one before nine in the morning. We then spent a full day gardening and decorating at the House (the kitchen is the colour of putty), came back and - hey presto - a delicious stew. This called for a bottle of red and we hadn't drunk Christmas Tutti Fruti for a while. It is a tasty wine - verging on the "could this be made from grapes?". There is something more complex about it than single fruit wines: a depth of flavour.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Sixth Bottle (B4), 29th - 31st October 2015

What a lot I managed to fit in whilst this bottle of wine was open. I chose it on Thursday because Katie was here for a WYSO committee meeting, and these are her blackcurrants. She said the wine tasted like that she had made, which is probably a Good Thing. But I opened it to celebrate exchanging contracts for selling 14 Carr Manor Mount - we complete on 11th December. Then on Friday Bridget was here and we had a wonderful evening catching up (it has been two years since I last saw her) and eating curry. I had my final glass on Saturday night after coming back from The Grand, where we saw Kiss Me Kate done by Opera North. It was terrific, and I feel that my Shakespeare has been entirely Brushed Up.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Elderflower - Second Bottle (1), 27th- 28th October 2015

Let There Be Light. The House now has working electricity. I flick a switch and lights go on. This is new and miraculous, and I can't tell you how excited I am about it. Despite this, I had a bit of a wobble on Wednesday night about the whole House thing and I am unsure why. Perhaps it is the massive crack our bathroom fitter unearthed in our bathroom wall, meaning the wall needs rebuilding. At least the elderflower wine helped in a small way - and several days later I am more relaxed about the crack.

The crack in the wall

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Orange Wine - Seventh Bottle (B2), 25th October 2015

I had the morning off decorating to play bassoon quartets in Kirk Deighton. One of the highlights was the Captain Pugwash theme - short, fast and catchy. But thereafter it was back to painting - and this was mostly the kitchen ceiling. My reward was half a bottle of orange wine drunk to left-over curry from Friday, which was searingly hot. Orange wine is quite good in these situations. The sharp and dominant citrus flavour recalibrates the taste buds.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Fifth Bottle (A2), 24th October 2015

After a solid day of painting the new kitchen (albeit with watered down matt emulsion, creating a depressingly patchy effect), Claire and I went round to Rachel's for a meal. I took a bottle of crab apple with me, which we had after the gin and the champagne. We were fed babaganouche (and I'm not sure if that is how to spell it or how many words it is - but it was mostly aubergine and garlic) followed by a Mediterranean chicken teggine. Mostly, though, we were there to adore Duncan's new kittens - a tabby and a rag-doll. Just lovely.

A rag-doll kitten

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Elderberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A1), 23rd-25th October 2015

I arrived at the House on Friday evening to collect Claire, only to find a paintbrush in my hand and instructions to paint the dining room wall. We left after 6:30, ordering a take-out curry as we went, and reached for a bottle of elderberry when we got home. The wine was fabulous - sweet and smooth, and a perfect antidote to a Friday night. There was still a small glass each on Sunday night - finished after another day of painting. It was deja-vu all over again.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Ninth Bottle (B5), 21st-22nd October 2015

No mice were harmed in the making of this wine. Despite previous bottles, this wine was entirely unmusty and free from its dead mouse flavour. Glorious colour too! I opened it after WYSO, where I was much happier with my playing (despite starting the first movement of Tchaik 4 on an A natural!). It is amazing what difference practice makes.

Thursday's glass and a bit was drunk while Claire and I were cooking together - baked trout, white sauce and an unfeasable amount of vegetables - and trying not to get in each other's way. It was a good evening.

A mouse in its coffin

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (C3), 18th October 2015

We deserved a good bottle of wine on Sunday night, and this batch of blackcurrant is one of the best. A thick fruity taste that packs a punch. Claire and I had spent a full day at the House mostly decorating. Our landing, hall and stairwell are white washed (if you ignore the ceiling) and one of our bedroom walls is a dark, dangerous red. This is going to be a long process, but the House is rapidly becoming ours.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (4), 17th October 2015

Claire thinks that Crab Apple & Strawberry is better than wine made from its individual components. I disagree, but will graciously accept that this is an excellent wine. It is dry and rich with clear strawberry flavours that never overpower. And the colour is splendid.

I did not mean to finish the bottle but somehow it emptied as I watched the first episode of the second series of The Returned/Les Revenants. I don't think I'll bother with the rest. The first series was spooky, original and unnerving, but things can only be original once.

In other news, I ordered curtain poles and tiles for the House. And Rachael & Myles visited. The House gets my sister's stamp of approval and Myles spent most of his time running around and playing with the cat flap.

Les Revenants
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here

Friday, 23 October 2015

Blackberry Wine - Third Bottle (C4), 16th October 2015

Claire and I showed the height of moderation by only drinking one bottle between us on Friday night. We both felt we could manage more but made do with bush tea, Pringles and chocolate instead. This is the epitome of a healthy lifestyle.

The blackberry wine was finished by 8 o'clock, and I was a little disappointed with it. It was too dry and had less of a blackberry taste than usual. We then watched the final episode of Madmen's first series, which was excellent. Only another 6 series of 13 episodes each to go, then.

No mention of Pringles, chocolate or blackberry wine here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Prune & Parsnip 2013 - Final Bottle (A2), 13th-15th October 2015

I do not think I have had a better bottle of Prune & Parsnip. This wine was as smooth as polished glass and the taste was delightful. Leaving it to mature for two and a half years from creation has, I think, made a difference. There was no special occasion to mark its opening; this just happened to be the first bottle of Prune & Parsnip that I found.

On Wednesday night I felt I needed a glass. I thought I had played Tchaikovsky 4 particularly badly - or at least the first movement of it. The notes do not lie easily under the fingers and I still treat the marked rhythm as an approximate guide, leading to a messy performance. Oh well.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Fifth Bottle (B3), 10th October 2015

I have drunk too much tonight. But this is my reaction when Claire is upset. Today at the House we discovered that the front door doesn't open fully (and having owned it three months, this shows quite how Yorkshire we are) and a patch of rotten floorboards in the toilet. Claire panicked and immediately declared this 'Dry Rot', saying vast amounts of floor would have to be removed. In fact, it looks more likely that this was caused by a leaking shower, but Claire is still low. At least the rose petal wine is delicious - sweet and floral. And it has put Claire into a slightly better mood.

This is how far our front door opens.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Fourth Bottle (A1), 7th-10th October 2015

Walking through the door after WYSO, my first task was to open a bottle of crab apple wine. The second was to watch The Great British Bake Off  Final whilst drinking a little too much for a Wednesday night. I am delighted that Nadiya won. Not only was she lovely, and a deserving winner, but she is from North Leeds and civic loyalty demands that I support her.

We then left the bottle unfinished until Saturday night and in between times I went to London (always a treat), ate a vast amount in a Greek restaurant and dreamt that someone had stolen all my wine. It was one of those realistic dreams where I had to wake myself up to remember that this was vastly unlikely. Crab apple wine is tasty but low on the list of 'Things to Steal'.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Elderberry Wine 2015 - The Making Of ...

Sunday 27th September was a day of Autumn mists and mellow fruitfulness. We woke to thick grey fog covering Leeds and set off for Ackworth. Claire had a string orchestra rehearsal at the Quaker School and suggested that I come along, use the time to pick elderberries and join her for a pub lunch afterwards. Mostly, though, I think she wanted me as her chauffeur.

The fog clung to the M62, through Pontefract and was only beginning to lift at Ackworth. On arrival I set off with my plastic bags and wandered around the perimeter of the school's football pitch. This was well stocked with trees and some of them were elders. The dew left behind by the mist picked out hundreds of spiders' webs, each bejeweled and breath-like. I apologised to the spiders as I destroyed their nets to pick fruit.

After the sports ground I bumbled around, sometimes on public footpaths, sometimes not. The only place that rivalled the school for elder trees was the graveyard of St Cuthbert's Church. By the end of the morning I had moved onto blackberries, which are still in abundance.

This is what 6 lbs of elderberries looks like.
I needed 6 lbs of elderberries for a double batch and I came away with 6 lbs 3 oz. One heavy plastic bag constitutes about four and a half pounds. Stripping them took two hours, during which time I entertained myself by listening to Radio 4 programmes that I had missed. This period was marked by the vast number of spiders that I had also gathered making an appearance. Don't tell Claire: I allowed most of them to escape into our living room. The earwigs, however, were evicted.

I crushed the berries in the bucket with a potato masher, added 5 lbs 4 oz sugar and poured over 12 pints of boiling water. On Monday morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient. I left this until Saturday 3rd October before putting the wine into its demijohns. This was a rapid job once I had fished most the fruit out with a collander. The amount of water I used was perfect. Its colour is one that I would like to use when painting the new house.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (B3), 4th October 2015

Opening a bottle with lunch is not a common occurrence. But three things converged: Catherine was visiting, Claire is feeling overwhelmed by the House, and we had a lamb & dumpling casserole. Blackberry wine went very nicely with the last of these, helped with the middle one and celebrated the first. I only had a glass because my tasks for the afternoon included 'Driving to the Station'.

Claire and I were poor hosts. Rather than pulling out all the stops and planning exciting things for our guest, we just got on with our ordinary weekend things. Catherine did not appear to mind.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (6), 2nd October 2015

Book Group was round at ours last night and the home-made option for wine was Strawberry. Most people stuck to the red & white. Actually, that's not true - Catherine, Gina, Ros, Jenny, Claire and I all had at least some strawberry wine with Catherine being the most enthusiastic. Rightly so - it is a fine bottle. And it is lovely that Catherine was able to visit for Book Group: she founded it 13 years ago and it is a decade since she moved away.

Our book was After Me Comes the Flood, which was a near-universal 'Miss', though no-one felt strongly about it. Many thought it was reminiscent of The Bell by Iris Murdoch (a previous Book Group book), though not as good. Next month, a book about cancer genetics!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Fourth Bottle (A2), 30th September - 1st October 2015

I showed great forebearance by not opening this bottle until Claire came back from WYSO; a strings-only rehearsal. This was particularly the case because I spent the evening reading our latest Book Group book - After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry, which is tedious and over-written. But once Claire was home the cork was pulled and we settled in to watch Bake Off's semi-final. The wine slipped down as the tension twisted up. Why is it that I care so much about people I don't know making cakes I won't eat? It is excellent television.

We left enough wine for a glass each on Thursday. I was meant to be at Madeleine's for quintets, but she had forgotten and the house was empty.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Ninth Bottle (A5), 26th September 2015

I think this is a particularly good vintage of Christmas Tutti Fruti. Previous versions have been somewhat thin, but this is full bodied and delicious. All the better when you drink it with sausages, roast potatoes and onion gravy.

Claire and I spent much of our time chatting about the House while drinking this. There is still a vast amount to do to it, and we have given up the idea of moving in before Thanksgiving, which is a shame.

The rest of the bottle was drunk to Doctor Who, which is back (hurrah). It was a Dalek episode, which are often tedious, but this was well done - full of moral dilemmas and danger. And I am warming to Peter Capaldi.

There is still a vast amount to do to it ...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (C2), 25th September 2015

This was rather a splendid bottle of wine. One of the best blackcurrants that I have tasted. It has the correct amount of sharpness to balance the sweet fruit taste. I think Burgundy yeast is the way to go.

We drank it after I had spent an easy day at work and Claire had spent a hard day at the house, painting two bedrooms with their first coat of white emulsion. Much of the wine was drunk, though, while I looked for venues to hold the Extended Family Gathering 2016. The Nightingale Centre is booked for the weekend that we want (1-3 April) and now I must find somewhere else. It is not looking easy.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Elderflower Wine - Eighth Bottle (A5), 23rd-24th September 2015

Of the four movements in Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, it is the second that I love the most. It has a mournful, beautiful melody passed between the orchestra and, of course, the bassoon gets it last. We played this on Wednesday and I emoted as much as I could. The tune has been stuck in my head ever since.

I opened this bottle to Bake Off after WYSO and we finished it on Thursday to an episode of Mad Men. Elderflower is a solid, mid-week bottle: consistent, floral, just a little bit dull.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Julia's Wines - Redcurrant 1995, 20th September 2015

We finally buried Julia. On Sunday her ashes were interred along with those of her mother and Mrs Soots the cat, beneath a weeping lime. It was a glorious morning - crisp early autumn filled with light. Madrigals were sung and Steffan read The Dorking Thigh. We covered Julia's ashes with rose petals, rosemary and a helping of Sam Smith's Ale. At the end of the ceremony a frog hopped its merry way through the grass. Of course I opened a bottle of her wine that evening. It is what she would have wanted.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Elderberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (A4), 18th September 2015

Friday night was mostly noteable for just how exhausted I was for no good reason. I had to have a lie down while listening to The Archers, and I spent the rest of the evening feeling like a zombie. By 9:30 I was in bed, managing a short chapter of my book and three sips of bush tea before slipping into sleep. This did not prevent me from drinking half a bottle of elderberry wine, however. It was a Friday night after all. We ate haggis and mashed potato with the wine, as well as obligatory runner beans from the garden. This will not go down as the most memorable Friday night in the history of Ben, but I hope it is not entirely typical either. (It is.)

Friday, 25 September 2015

Whitecurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 16th-18th September 2015

Claire and I both had the same experience when drinking this wine. The first taste had distinctly unpleasant overtones, but thereafter they were no longer there. The wine never approached the dizzy heights of 'nice', but it sauntered along the foothills of 'drinkable'. I opened it on Wednesday evening while we watched Bake Off, then finished the last glass on Friday while I was waiting for Claire to finish her gin & tonic so that I could open something better.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Rhubarb & Elderflower Wine - Fifth Bottle (3), 13th September 2015

We wanted something specifically associated with this house to drink in celebration, for today someone has put in an offer to buy it. This means that we no longer have to keep it spotless at all times, make sure the washing up is done and put away, and we can move the cat food back to where it needs to be. So today has been a Good Day. Exhausting too, what with the gardening, wine-making, bread-making and our final tidying session.

The wine was really good, with hints of spice (which is unexplained). We both drank too much, though, because we still had a bottle of rose petal to finish.