Greetings

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, 30 December 2016

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Tenth Bottle (A1), 25th December 2016

I have broken a tradition. After many years of drinking the last bottle of one batch of Tutti Fruti and the first bottle of the most recent batch on Christmas Day, I find myself having drunk only the tenth bottle of the older batch instead. I'm obviously not drinking enough.

I shared this bottle between ten at 3 The Alders as a pre-dinner drink and everyone thought it was excellent - which of course, it was. Claire's Uncle Richard said "Surprisingly good". I get that quite a lot.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Blackberry Wine - Third Bottle (B6), 18th-19th December 2016

I had my first ever crisp sandwich while drinking this wine. Claire has mentioned these previously in hushed tones as if describing a thing of beauty and is amazed that I have never had one before. I found the experience underwhelming - very much the sum of its parts. Neither delicious nor nutritious. But we did not fancy a proper meal, having spent the afternoon in Ilkley snacking on Christmas food, while Claire played in Mendelssohn's Octet.

The wine, good as it was, remained unfinished until Monday night, and then I only had a glass to keep Claire company.




Saturday, 24 December 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Sixth Bottle (B3), 17th December 2016

Another Saturday, another concert, another bottle of blackcurrant wine. This time the concert was a Christmas Concert in Ilkley, and on the whole I could have done without it. I spent the entire day feeling washed out from my work Christmas party the night before, and I'm never the jolliest person this time of year anyway. However, we drank the bottle round at Mary's afterwards, eating cheese and nibbles, and that bit of the day was lovely. Mary is not a big drinker, so I only poured her a small glass. Followed rapidly by a second.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (B4), 10th December 2016

This bottle was our reward for a concert well-played. WYSO performed Temper by Diana Burrell, Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto and Brahms' Third Symphony. It all went extremely well - I think I only hit one wrong note in the first half (though plenty in the second) and I have not been as thrilled by a performance for an age. I am still on a high the morning after.

We got through the blackcurrant wine with undue haste, given only the merest of help by my mother. It was a wonderful evening.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Eighth Bottle (E3), 9th-10th December 2016

Opened on a Friday and finished on a Saturday - that doesn't happen very often. This might indicate that the wine was somewhat less than palatable, but in fact this is a great batch of crab apple - sharp and light. It was more down to kicking the evening off with a whisky mac and knowing that Saturday was going to be intense - a long afternoon rehearsal followed by a concert. Haviing a hangover would be counterproductive.

We finished the last third after the concert (and, shockingly, after a bottle of blackcurrant) sat in front of the stove, knowing that we had played well. It is a glorious feeling.


Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Ninth Bottle (B2), 8th December 2016

Delicious. This vintage of Christmas Tutti Fruti is the best I have ever made. The depth of fruit is wonderful and the slight fizz is entirely beneficial.

We shared the bottle with Matt Byrne, who is in Leeds for a training course - and it was lovely to see him. Claire made three curries - all fabulous (but particularly the lamb) and we discussed defences to bigamy, and whether failing to report one's spouse falling off a cliff amounted to a crime. None of us is planning on putting either of these scenarios into practice.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Seventh Bottle (A3), 4th December 2016

I think the best thing about this wine is its colour and clarity. It is a wine that shines a copper pink. That is not to say that its taste disappoints. It is a reliable white wine and certainly good enough for a Sunday night, sat in front of the fire, reading. Whilst winter is very far from my favourite season, watching logs burn helps make up for that. The book is Wise Children by Angela Carter which, so far, is superb. If I knew what picaresque meant I think I would describe it as that. It is bawdy, funny and charmingly told. It has potential to be my Book of the Year.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Fifth Bottle (B2), 3rd December 2016

I put this bottle in the fridge many days ago but each time we had occasion to open a bottle of wine (obviously a rare event in this household) we fancied something else. Saturday, though, was perfect for a bottle of rose petal. We were eating vaguely Middle-Eastern food (chicken, olives and lemon cooked in a tagine) and Rachel & Duncan were visiting from Cambridge. And Rachel is a big fan of Rose Petal wine. It was an excellent evening - food, company and drink all wonderful, and we got through much of the last in that list. Rachel misses living in Leeds, having swapped it for village life, and we miss her being just round the corner


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 27th November 2016

What a fabulous bottle of wine. My first sip elicited an audible "yum". There is an instant hit of blackberry. Further down the glass this taste becomes less surprising, more expected, but the wine retains its quality.

I have had a lazy day, though more active than yesterday - in that I managed to get dressed and briefly went outside. Only into the back garden to collect apples, but it still required shoes. I'm not certain that I am entirely better - it being only shortly past nine and I'm exhausted, but I am certainly well enough for work tomorrow.


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.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Eighth Bottle (A1), 6th November 2016

Prune & parsnip wine seemed the natural choice to accompany rabbit stew. There was a subtle sweetness to both food and drink, and I don't think I could have had a better match.

The day has mostly been spent at Airedale Symphony Orchestra, rehearsing for next week's concert. I don't think the orchestra has sounded better and for once I am genuinely looking forward to the performance. The more I play Schumann's First Symphony the better I like it. Having believed Schumann to be the most overrated composer, I am now have second thoughts.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Blackberry Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (A2), 3rd-4th November 2016

I find myself in a state of eternal exhaustion. Work is busy (which is a good thing), Claire is ill (which is not) but recovering and this week my only night in was Thursday. Hence a bottle of blackberry wine. I drank some while finishing the Book Group Book for Friday - The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. Though I found it gripping in parts, and I cared about the characters, ultimately I was a little disappointed and I'm not sure why. Then I moved onto watching The Missing on i-player, which so far and until the last few seconds of this episode, has been excellent. Now, though, I fear it has degenerated into silliness and genre fiction.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - Claire's homage in the form of sausage roll

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Sixth Bottle (B1), 29th-30th October 2016

My little sister is a bad influence. After an evening of not-quite excess, Rachael asked whether there was any more wine. There is close to 200 bottles. I fished out a bottle of rhubarb and we made minor inroads into it.

On Sunday I spent much of the day chasing after an energetic nephew, some of it in Roundhay Park. As soon as Myles saw the tourist train it was inevitable that we would have an overpriced journey to the top of the park and back again. Some of the rest of Sunday was spent with the remainder of the rhubarb wine and my invalid* wife.


*That is 'invalid' as in 'ill' rather than 'invalid' as in 'not recognised'.



Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Fig Wine - Second Bottle (5), 29th October 2016

Mom, Rachael and Myles came to stay on Saturday night and I wanted to pour them the best of my wines. Well, not Myles, obviously. He is not yet four. Fig wine is an excellent bottle, and we needed something red to go with the lamb that Claire had just cooked.

It was a lovely evening, full of talk and laughter. Mom has recently returned from Japan and China, so kept us entertained with tales of the exotic.

We finished the evening with steamed ginger pudding, sat in front of the stove. As I say, a lovely evening.


Friday, 4 November 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (C6), 28th October 2016

Claire is not well - coughing, spluttering, not sleeping and nearly voiceless. So far I have managed to escape this lurgy - despite being surrounded by it both at work and home. It is my Hardy constitution.

On Friday night when I got home Claire said that she had no idea what to have for supper and that she needed plenty of Vitamin C. I ordered an Indian takeaway and opened a bottle of Blackcurrant Wine. Both problems solved in an instant.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Crab Apple Wine 2014 - Final Bottle (C2), 26th-29th October 2016

I dashed away from Madeleine's quintets on Wednesday so that I could watch the Final (and final time it is on BBC) of The Great British Bake Off. Claire's alcohol consumption currently only consists of hot toddies, so I drank this bottle of crab apple almost entirely by myself - albeit over three nights. The final Bake Off was as warm hearted as all previous episodes and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

On Saturday night I shared what was left of this bottle with Rachael and Mom, who were both visiting. This, though, was an appetiser for the rest of an excellent evening.


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Apple Wine 2016 - The Making Of...

Our crab apple tree back at 14 Carr Manor Mount was less than eight feet tall. It produced many pounds of fruit, virtually all of it within easy picking range. The lowest hanging apples on the apple tree at Bentcliffe Drive are higher than 8 foot from the ground. This makes picking them a challenge. Claire had mentioned that she had some success pulling apples off by snagging them with the teeth of a rake. Even with this knowledge, I needed a step ladder.

Our apple tree and washing line

On Sunday, 16th October, shortly after a heavy downpour, I set up the ladder under the tree and looked over to Claire through the kitchen window. She was shaking her head. On going inside, it was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms that this was a foolhardy endeavour and I would probably break something. Not being one to give up on wine-making opportunities lightly, or to take good advice, I promised that I would be careful, that I would only go two steps up the ladder and that everything would be fine. And (for once) I was right.

The apples and the rake

The apples took some tugging and the rake often got caught in branches, but I managed to repeat Newton's gravity experiment several times over, being careful to spot where each apple plummeted. I managed to get four pounds of apples, enough for a single batch, and decided not to push my luck by going for twice this amount.


I have used exactly the same recipe as my crab apple wine on the basis that my past 'pure' apple wines have been disappointing. First task was to chop the apples into pieces and then whiz them through the food processor, using the 'slice' attachment. These went into the bucket, along with a pound of minced sultanas (again using the food processor) and three pounds of sugar. I covered all this with 7 pints of boiling water.


By Sunday night the liquid was cool enough to add the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase. I strained the wine into its demijohns on Thursday night, 20th October. This was a quick job and entirely uneventful. Probably I could have cut down the water by half a pint. The wine is light brown (always an attractive colour for wine) and I anticipate a massive sediment.


If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Seventh Bottle (B6), 20th-23rd October 2016

We needed to drink something rather better than the Vanilla Wine just finished on Thursday night. Pretty much any bottle would have done, but I pulled out a 'Prune & Parsnip' from under the stairs. We were officially 'on holiday', having taken Friday off work to go to Keith & Jaki's renewal of their marriage vows, so opening a second bottle on a Thursday night wasn't that scandalous. And in comparison to Vanilla, it is Nectar of the Gods.

We finished the bottle tonight, Sunday, while watching Sandi Toksvig's first episode of presenting QI. She is rather good and Stephen Fry will be less missed than I had imagined.


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Vanilla Wine - Fourth Bottle (3), 18th-20th October 2016

On the basis it was a Tuesday, I decided to open something nasty. We hardly ever drink on a Tuesday night, so something to discourage drinking seemed appropriate. Vanilla wine really isn't very good. Claire says that it is exactly on the borderline of "undrinkable". We still managed to finish the bottle. It joins the growing list of "Wines never to make again".


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Eighth Bottle (B5), 16th October 2016

Today has been one of those non-descript days where in its closing hours you wonder if it could have been better spent. Claire has been morose all day, except for the evening, because she isn't sleeping well. Next door has some sort of extractor fan which we can hear in our bedroom and which has started going off in two second bursts every 10-15 minutes through the night. I have managed to sleep through it, but Claire has not. A bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti helped perk her up. It is delicious, with its deep fruit flavours.

News Flash. Claire has, just this second, handed me a plate of cakes, one of which is mostly made from spinach!


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Orange Wine - Seventh Bottle (B3), 12th-15th October 2016

Orange wine is a reliable mid-week bottle ideal for sipping slowly while watching the Bake Off. This week, though, the bottle hung round until Saturday night, which is unusual. On Thursday I didn't have any because I was playing trios at Pat and Peter's. On Friday I didn't have any because it was Book Group at Gina's (Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier which I enjoyed but was not universally popular). On Saturday I didn't have any (apart from two stolen sips) because I had had a boozy lunch with Rodney at The Mustard Pot. Even though I did not have my fair share of this wine, it was a decent bottle of orange - sharp but not bitter.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Elderberry Wine - First Bottle (A5), 8th October 2016

I had the absolute pleasure of sharing this bottle of wine with Claire and Sue in St Dogmaels. Claire and I travelled all the way to Pembrokeshire to play in Haydn's Creation, but having missed the Abbey Shakespeare this year, it was alson an excuse to see Sue.

We had a glorious weekend; Sunday morning found us at Poppit Sands in warm October sunlight. Most of the time was taken up with playing - it is wonderful music, though the conductor commented audibly on imperfections during the performance and twice clapped the beat for several bars. Saturday night, though, was a relaxed affair, talking non-stop with Sue and drinking this rather decent vintage of elderberry wine. It has a semi-sweet distinctive taste and it is one that will age well.

St Dogmaels High Street

Friday, 14 October 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Sixth Bottle (C6), 5th-6th October 2016

Hurrah! I am on holiday (sort of). Friday will involve a long drive to Pembrokeshire, which is an official day off work. Thursday was my unofficial day, when I went to London for a conference - and going to London, even if it is work-related, is always a little bit exciting. I managed 15 minutes in Tate Modern as my tourist treat.

As an anticipatory celebration I opened a bottle of crab apple wine on Wednesday - after baking a banana cake - and had my fair share of each, leaving Claire to polish off the bottle as I returned from the Capital.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Third Bottle (C5?), 2nd October 2016

I was the chef on Sunday. My toad-in-the-hole is a thing of beauty. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but it was good and I think my onion gravy was the best I have done. Topping it all off with blackcurrant wine was almost an excess of delights.

The day was a pleasant, unmemorable Sunday. Most excitingly we bought a new garden rake. Otherwise, we explored south and east of our neighbourhood, I got some documents certified and I put myself in a bad mood by practising the first movement of Brahms' Third Symphony. So, literally, a thrill a minute.


Friday, 7 October 2016

Ginger Wine - Final Bottle (5), 28th-29th September 2016

The final bottle of this ginger wine was smoother than my memory of previous bottles. It was still too sweet but there was no near-bitter bite - and that is a good thing. This is another flavour where age improves things (its vintage is November 2012).

We drank the first half of the bottle while watching Bake Off in our pyjamas. While coming downstairs, dressed in my night attire, anticipating cosy television and a glass of ginger wine, I was struck by how lucky I have been. This scenario sounds like the epitome of middle-aged and middle-class dullness. But the cap fits. At that moment, there was nowhere that I would have preferred to be. The ginger wine could have been a little drier, though.

I don't particularly feel like a decrepit corpse. And there is a typo!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Fourth Bottle (A2), 25th September 2016

Autumn is upon us. I can tell this because we had a roast chicken. Food should be seasonal, and a roast Sunday dinner marks the drawing in of nights. A bottle of rose petal wine, particularly one as tasty as this, was the perfect accompaniment. It has a fragrant taste and is the correct level of dryness. As was the day itself. I spent some of it in the sunshine picking elderberries, much of it in our dining room stripping the same off their stalks, and a fraction of the rest practising the bassoon. I appear to have volunteered to play a solo at Music Club. That was careless.


Saturday, 1 October 2016

Elderberry Wine 2016 - The Making Of...

September has been as warm as July this year. The middle two weeks were glorious. This is not something to complain about. However, it caused me to worry about the availability of elderberries. On Sunday 18th September I explored the area near Gledhow Wood Road where I had gathered elderflowers in June. I had expected trees dripping with elderberries and instead found scant pickings. Either the elderberries were black and ash-like, or they had been snatched by the birds. I went home disheartened with only 8 ounces.

A typical tree on my first attempt

The following Sunday I tried Stonegate Fields, which was only slightly better, and then the open area behind Stainbeck Road, where at last I found a couple of fecund trees. This still only produced 2 lbs of elderberries - not enough even for a single batch. That afternoon, without much hope, I drove to Hetchell Woods and walked down Kennel Lane. Ahead of me was a young couple carrying plastic bags. As I got closer, I saw that one of those bags contained elderberries. This was unwelcome competition. I greeted them with "I see we have exactly the same idea", told them my recipe, assured them that there would be plenty of berries for both of us, and then made sure that I overtook them.

Much better!

Quickly I found a field off Kennel Lane where I saw many elder trees hanging with black fruit. I went in and managed to fill my bags - my worries had proved groundless. This produced far more than the 6 lbs I needed for a double batch. The rest are in the freezer.


Stripping the berries from their stalks took about two hours, during which I listened to a Dum-Tee-Dum podcast. I crushed these in my bucket with a potato masher and added 5 lbs of sugar and 12 pints of boiling water.


On Monday morning, 26th September, I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase. After stirring twice a day I transferred the liquid into its demijohns on Friday night, 30th September. It is fermenting away and is the darkest of all my wines.


If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Fifth Bottle (A6), 18th-21st September 2016

Sunday found me driving a 21 foot van to Whitby whilst wearing a Superman T-shirt. My colleagues had cycled from Morecambe to Whitby over 3 days and needed someone to drive their bikes back to Leeds. When a call went out for drivers I hadn't anticipated that I would be driving anything other than my (small and red) car. Other than the crash, everything went swimmingly.

The type of van I drove

Back at home Claire asked if I wanted anything to drink. In fact I was so exhausted that I only had one glass of rhubarb wine, which was cold and pink and refreshing. Claire has had the rest of the bottle over the week (with occasional sips from me) because I am on antibiotics. Yet again my wisdom tooth is infected and I live with a dull, nagging, constant pain.
In Whitby with a colleague

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fig Wine 2016 - The Making Of...


I do have selfish parents. They are spending mid-August to mid-October travelling around America, Japan and China. Don't they realise it is Fig season? I have had to make a special trip to York on two occasions to pick figs from their tree. Couldn't they have gone in November when nothing in their garden is useful for wine? As I say, selfish.

A fig on my parents' tree

My parents' tree
My first trip was on 4th September, where I picked 3 lbs of figs. Some of this involved climbing the fig tree, feeling the branches bend beneath my weight. I also trespassed into next door's garden to pluck a juicy fig hanging beyond the party wall. Our second visit was the following week, 11 September, where only another 2 lbs were ripe - but 5 lbs is enough for a single batch of wine. There were several more fruit growing on the tree and I imagine that the birds will take full advantage.


Back home I kept the ripest figs in the freezer and let those that were still mostly green ripen on our kitchen counter. On Friday 16th September I cut each of the figs into bits and put them in my bucket. I think the figs are riper, darker than last year, but that is probably a false memory.

Though ripe defrosted figs do not require much crushing, I still attacked them with a potato masher and then covered them with 3 lbs sugar. I boiled six pints of water and poured this over, giving it all a thorough stir. At this stage the mixture was soupy, but it all separated out over the next few days. Next time I will increase the water by half a pint: on putting the wine into its demijohns on Thursday night, 22nd September, I was filtering the thickest of sludge at the end of the process and I would ordinarily have discarded this.

The soupy fig mixture
But I have got ahead of myself. I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase, tannin, nutrient and citric acid on Saturday morning, 17th September. Really I should have transferred the wine into the demijohns a day earlier than I did, but Wednesday was busy with WYSO and the Bake Off. The method of transferring was the same as ever - fish out most the solids with a collander at the beginning, then start putting the liquid into the demijohn using a jug, sieve and funnel. I now have Fig wine in its demijohn, fermenting happily and dark plum in colour.


If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here.