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.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fourth Bottle (B3), 25th-26th May 2016

There really isn't much to say about this bottle, and because I'm writing this two days after we finished it, I can't really remember what we were doing. I know that on Thursday Claire came home late after monumentally busy day and we got stuck into the wine. I think Haggis was involved somewhere. The rest is a blur.


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Rhubarb Wine 2016 - The Making Of...


For the past six months, whenever I thought about it, I have been concerned whether I would be able to make rhubarb wine at all this year. When we were in the process of moving house, one of our first gardening jobs was to move the rhubarb from Carr Manor Mount to Bentcliffe Drive. I imagined that the plants would be even more traumatised by the move than we initially were. Then, throughout March and April, the rhubarb grew only slowly and I decided that I would leave it be this year, allowing it to get settled.

When I mentioned all this to Nick in Cornwall, he asked how much rhubarb I needed. I told him six pounds for a double batch. On Sunday 15th May, Pond Digging Day, he turned up with a bucketful of rhubarb stalks.This was considerably more than I needed - I measured out nine pounds for a triple batch, Claire stewed a good deal more for her porridge and there is still overspill. Ironically, our rhubarb plants are currently in the best of health and threatening to take over the remainder of the garden.


On Sunday afternoon, I sliced the 9 lbs of rhubarb into pieces about half an inch thick (a long process) and put these in the bucket. I covered them with 9 lbs sugar and poured 21 pints of boiling water over them. This proved to be a pint too much water. I stirred it all around to dissolve the sugar and left it overnight.


On Monday morning I added the yeast and two tablespoons each of nutrient and pectolase. Throughout the week I stirred it once or twice a day and then transferred it into three demijohns on Friday 20th May, using a collander to scoop out the rhubarb mush at the beginning of the process.

The Rhubarb Mush
The wine is a paler pink that usual, which will be down to the rhubarb variety, but it is attractive nonetheless. I am experimenting by leaving one of the demijohns uncovered with silver foil. My hypothesis is that, unlike the two that I have wrapped, the pink colour will fade. Watch this space ...



Friday, 27 May 2016

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Fifth Bottle (B3), 22nd May 2016

What an absolutely fabulous bottle of wine. I do not thing I have made better. If I have a criticism it is that it is far too easy to drink. I had to exercise a great deal of self control not to finish the bottle before we ate. Somehow the flavours have blended to near perfection: sweet, deep and red. It was a good day to celebrate. We now have a genuine pond, with water and everything. Well, no frogs yet and only a couple of oxygenating plants - but it is going to look wonderful once it is established.

This is only a temporary photo until Claire loads up a picture of the pond

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Orange Wine - Third Bottle (B2), 21st May 2016

Before I start this post, there is something irritating happening to the 'blog views' that blogspot records. On the hour, though at random hours - and about three times a day - several hundred hits are recorded at once. It has been happening for about a fortnight. This produces spikes where there should be none. And it is annoying. On the whole it is a good day where more than 100 hits are recorded throughout a 24 hour period. I don't want 657 recorded hits if that is false. So, if it is you - please stop! Rant over.

Normal service now resumes.

Claire may have been struck by Sleeping Sickness. That is what it has felt like. Often on Saturday mornings she will sleep through her first cup of tea that I bring her in bed. This time it took four cups of tea before she woke sufficiently to have more than a sip. Then, having had a hard morning's sleep, Claire decided that an afternoon nap was Just The Thing. When she finally got up properly (and she assures me that she is not ill) it was after six - so entirely proper to open a bottle of orange wine, whih was light and refreshing. Most of it was drunk watching Madmen in the attic.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Blackberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (C5), 18th-19th May 2016

Claire thinks this blackberry wine is too dry and therefore not as tasty as previous vintages. Whilst I acknowledge the dryness, I disagree with the conclusion. Somehow the fruit is less dominant and this produces something closer to real wine. Claire still thinks this is within my top 25%, though.

While we were drinking this wine, listening to a catch-up of The Archers, our computer enforced a Windows 10 upgrade on us. For months it has had pop-ups saying things like "Hurry. Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free," and "Windows 10 is Great. Honestly. Please upgrade. You won't regret it you know." Each time I have clicked the "Leave me alone and go away" button. However, the computer has its own (bossy) personality and decided it knew what was best. I predict shouting and frustration.


Monday, 23 May 2016

Elderflower Wine - Fourth Bottle (6), 15th-17th May 2016

We had already opened two bottles of wine on Sunday before getting stuck into the Elderflower. But it is not every day that you create the wherewithal for a pond in your back garden. One of those bottles was celery wine, so that doesn't count. The other was Mark's chardonnay and shared between six.

Claire chose elderflower for Sunday evening on the basis that there is nothing remarkable about it, and so it proved. I spent Sunday night wine-making. then on Tuesday we finished the bottle to bean burgers. Nothing remarkable at all.

This is possibly the dullest entry in my diary, and it faces some stiff competition. Apologies.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Ugli Fruit Wine - The Making Of ...

We have a new greengrocers within walking distance. This makes my middle-aged, middle-class heart sing with joy. It is considerably more expensive than the fruit & veg shops in Harehills, but it is much better quality and we do not have to drive. On Saturday, though, my unwavering loyalty to the new place became assured.

7 Ugli Fruit - I think Homeli rather than Ugli

Claire told me to inspect the fruit on display outside the shop carefully. I had a look and wondered why Dutch strawberries were quite so worthy of comment. Then I looked at the back row and saw a box of Ugli Fruit. Claire was watching through the window all this time and said that my face literally lit up. I have been looking for Ugli Fruit since I decided I wanted to do a wine alphabet (probably five years) and have never found a vendor. Not really knowing how many I needed (I still don't), but because they are far larger that oranges, I took seven. They were meant to be £1.25 each, but seeing as I was buying in bulk, the owner said I could have them for £7. As I say, undying loyalty.

I don't have a recipe, but had a quick look at the Thirsty Gardeners' instructions for grapefruit wine (Ugli Fruit are a grapefruit-orange-tangerine chimera) and pretty much ignored them. On Sunday, 15th May I thinly peeled two of the fruit, putting the shavings into the bucket. I squeezed six using the usual orange juicer but one with my hands, having peeled it first. Claire and I shared a segment and it was an undistinctive citrus fruit.


The juice went into the bucket along with 2lbs 8oz sugar and six and a half pints of boiling water. On Monday morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient.


Putting this into its demijohn on Friday night, 20th May, was a quick job. I was relieved about that as I had already bottled 30 bottles of crab apple wine, didn't start on the Ugli Fruit wine until 9 o'clock, and still had 3 gallons of rhubarb wine to put into its demijohn. My adjective for the evening would be "sticky". The Ugli Fruit wine is beautiful in colour - a bright, sunshine yellow.



Friday, 20 May 2016

Celery Wine - Final Bottle (3), 15th May 2016

We dug a pond today. The 'we' in question were Nick, Mark (another of Claire's colleagues) and me, with Claire being Project Manager. Nick and Mark did rather more work than I , but I was definitely somewhere above "useless". We started at 10:30 and by 1 o'clock, there was an attractively shaped hole in our lawn, ready for sand and a pond-liner. The garden as a whole is looking so much more interesting than when we moved in.

Part of the day's activity was to be a wine tasting. Mark has recently started making wine from kits and has been disappointed with his results (though the chardonnay he brought was absolutely fine). I was to open both a disaster (this bottle) and an achievement. But we didn't have time for the achievement, so Mark only tasted the Celery. Rachel and Duncan had arrived at this point and had a sip too. Mark thought it was okay and pointed out the liquorice aftertaste. It was the aftertaste that made Rachel gag. The initial taste, though too sweet, was innocuous.

I was very happy to hand Nick the half-empty bottle as part payment for his pond digging work.

The diggers

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Dandelion Wine - Third Bottle (2), 14th May 2016

For the first time since our honeymoon in the Grand Canyon in 1998, I have gone a week without alcohol. Then it was forced upon me by antibiotics and a swollen face. This time it was through choice, after a heavy week of drinking in Cornwall. I found it surprisingly easy, and I am pleased about that.

Dandelion was a good choice - it is a wine drunk rarely and it just gets better with age. Browner too, but never mind. There is little difference between this wine and a commercial sherry, and I did a taste test to prove it. I think I will save my next bottle until May 2017. Check back in a year!

Obviously not me, but this is how I looked on my honeymoon

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Elderberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (A3), 6th May 2016

We drank this wine on our final day in Cornwall, to salmon blinis and French onion soup. Nick described the elderberry as being a quick burst of flavour in the middle of the tongue. I wondered if it was too young. One of these years I must hide six bottles from myself for 'later'.

The day was suitably sunny and lazy with a luxurious (and expensive) lunch in Port Isaac at Nathan Outlaw's Fish Kitchen. We were presented with small, beautiful dishes of fish, of which my favourite was pickled herring with red onion, orange and chervil dressing. Afterwards, Claire and I explored Padstow but did not have the time or inclination to visit the National Lobster Hatchery.


Monday, 16 May 2016

Peach & Banana Wine - Fourth Bottle (5), 5th-6th May 2016

It has been eighteen months since I last had a bottle of Peach & Banana. It has not improved. I brought it with me to Cornwall as my 'comedy wine'. The other holiday-makers failed to see the funny side. Claire and Ann refused to do more than give it a sniff. Rachel & Duncan were braver but concluded that it tasted mostly of dubious chemicals. This left Nick and I to drink it. Which we managed. In fact, I saw Nick voluntarily reaching for the bottle when there was still some alternative wine on offer.

The holiday-makers (minus Claire) in Cornwall

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (A4), 5th May 2016

Claire opened this bottle after a thoroughly satisfying day at the Eden Project in Cornwall. I had been wanting to go there for years and, though I preferred Heligan, it is well worth the visit. Creating an indoor rain forest takes vision and flair. We saw mangos, papayas and bananas growing on their trees. No blackcurrants, though.

The wine was delicious - my favourite over the holiday. Irritatingly Ann poured herself a really massive glass and was then moderately disparaging about it. I could have enjoyed what she merely tolerated.

Looking over the Eden Project rain forest



Friday, 13 May 2016

Rose Petal Wine 2013 - Final Bottle (B3), 3rd May 2016

We drank this bottle in the evening sunlight, looking out towards the sea. It was a near-perfect end to a near-perfect day, much of which had been spent at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This proved to be the highlight of our Cornish holiday - the gardens were vast with many distinct sections including 'The Jungle' and an avenue of intensely coloured rhodedendrons. My favourite area was the kitchen gardens, all walled and all containing exciting fruit trees and bushes that made my wine-making thumbs twitch. Worcesterberry. Medlar. Japanese Wineberry. Those names, that exoticism.

Rhodedendrons at Heligan

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Crab Apple Wine - 15th Bottle (A5), 1st May 2016

In my holiday diary I have written of this bottle "Everyone seemed to enjoy it. At least there were no disparaging comments". So it obviously made a huge impression.

The day was mostly marked by cold drizzle, which is not what one wants on a Cornish holiday. Particularly when the day's activity is a coastal walk. Our guide, Rachel's cousin, kept on taking us to look-out points, saying encouraging things like "This is a great view". Peering into the mist we had to believe him. I probably spent most of this bottle of wine hoping that the weather might improve over the week.

A lovely sunny day in Cornwall

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Rhubarb Wine - First Bottle (A5), 30th April 2016

I took this bottle all the way to Cornwall, along with five others, as my contribution to the week's alcohol ration. It was the first opened and to Ann's mind the best. She is often scathing about my wines, so even a moderate amount of praise means that I have done well.

We stayed in a bungalow with views down to the sea and across to Tintagel. In the golden evening sunshine, with a glass of bronze-tinted rhubarb wine, I could tell that it was going to be an excellent holiday.

The view from our bungalow
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Tenth Bottle (B4), 24th-27th April 2016

It is never a wise idea to open a third bottle on a Sunday night. Or, not when there are only four people in the house. But that is what I did because, essentially, I am a show-off. Lambert and Christy were here and I wanted something to go with dessert. Prune & Parsnip is a good choice - sweet with a suggestion of fortification. Sensibly we only had a small(ish) glass each.

Claire and I finished the bottle on Wednesday evening when we were both back late from work and WYSO had been cancelled. In typical living-on-the-edge fashion, I spent my evening watching a tribute to Victoria Wood and doing the washing up.


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Crab Apple & Strawberry - Third Bottle (5), 24th April 2016

Lambert and his fiancee, Maria, came over for a meal on Sunday night. Claire thought that a glass of crab apple & strawberry in the garden would be a lovely start to the evening. The weather, though, thought otherwise, and we stayed in the house's warmth. Still, the wine was a decent aperitif - sweet, clear and fruity. Lambert said he detected a sparkle, but I did not.

Our meal was fabulous, with the main course being a fish and seafood stew. Maria said she had not had bettter since arriving from Greece in December. I suspect she is homesick and Lambert is forcing her to speak English, even when they are alone.