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, 30 December 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti - First Bottle (A3), 25th December 2017

Merry Christmas. I am writing this whilst still wearing a paper crown from my Christmas cracker. The trinket was a disappointing key ring and I cannot now remember the joke. Anyway, to accompany roast venison, I opened my first bottle of Xmas Tutti Fruti 2016 . The overall consensus was 'good' though I think no more than that. There is a prominent rose petal taste and I think this is too strong. Sooz said that if she hadn't seen the wine's colour, she would have believed it a Gooseberry, and I think this is down to its sharpness. The wine has a bite, and I think a depth and complexity which will improve as it ages.

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

Friday, 29 December 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2017 - The Making Of...

It is 23rd December and I am only just now starting to feel in the mood for Christmas. This morning I collected a huge slab of venison for Monday's meal and tonight Claire and I will go carolling around the neighbourhood. Work has finished for the year and I feel I can start to relax.

A close up of fruits from the freezer
One of the Christmas traditions is, of course, making the Xmas Tutti Fruti Wine. This brings with it many seasonal abstract nouns to Claire, for the freezer (having been stuffed with fruit for five months) is now empty: 'joy', 'gladness', 'wonder', 'peace' to name just a few.

Those frozen fruit in the bucket
I have more fruit in the wine than I have used before - 9 lbs 9 oz - meaning that I toyed with making a triple batch, but have settled on the usual double. In the approximate order in which I extracted the fruit, I have used:
  • 1 lb 15 oz blackcurrants
  • 12 oz strawberries
  • ½ oz red raspberries and 4¾ oz yellow raspberries
  • 1 lb 9 oz blackberries
  • 2 oz damsons
  • 1½ oz loganberries
  • 1¾ oz redcurrants
  • 2 lbs 3 oz gooseberries (of which one gooseberry only was red - the others from our red gooseberry bush all having been gobbled by pigeons)
  • ¼ oz fuchsia berries
  • 2½ oz sloes
  • 14 oz rhubarb
  • 2 oz rose petals
  • 1 lb 3 oz elderberries; and
  • 1¾ oz blueberries
  • Plus (of course) 1 satsuma
The fruit defrosted
I measured all the freezer fruit yesterday and put it in my bucket to defrost overnight. This afternoon I mashed it with a potato masher, added 5 lbs 12 oz sugar and poured over 12 pints of boiling water. I made my wish for the coming year while mashing - last year's was that I hoped Claire's job would be sorted and secure, and that has - eventually - mostly come true.

Fruit mashed with sugar added
The yeast, nutrient and pectolase all went in on Christmas Eve (though several hours before the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols) and I have put this into its two demijohns tonight, 28th December, leaving a large gap in each demijohn (with two 'topping up' bottles prepared) so that the fermentation can die down. I could have cut the water used by two pints. But the taste at this stage is sweet and fruity, and it is a pleasing dark red in colour.

The wine in its demijohns (and the snow)

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Eighth Bottle (B3), 18th-19th November 2017

NB - This post is out of order. I must have forgotten to type it up when I originally wrote it. The Space-Time Continuum will shortly be restored.


This weekend has had thrice the number of concerts as bottles of wine. Claire played in two - an all Haydn concert on Saturday night (very good) and Dido & Aeneas on Sunday (less so, apparently). I played in one on Sunday afternoon - Scheherazade, The Firebird and Sleeping Beauty, and this concert was terrific. But it all left little time for drinking more than is sensible. If I were to use one word to describe this Tutti Fruti, it would be 'Insipid', though 'Disappointing' would follow closely. There is just no depth to it and no real hint of its fruit.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Gooseberry Wine 2012 - Final Bottle (6), 24th -25th December 2017

Leaving this bottle nearly four years since the last one has changed its flavour, but only marginally for the better. It now has the taste of an aged country wine - so broadly sherry like - though there is a hint of its original sharpness. Far from undrinkable, but not your actual Nice.

I opened this after the annual Christmas Eve Bentcliffe Drive Party, but as that involved several glasses of real wine (made from grapes!), we did not finish the bottle. That task was saved for Christmas Day, during present opening. Sooz, Bob and Judith were here, meaning that it was the usual present lucky-dip. My best one was a tea-towel with the Periodic Table printed on it. There wasn't a worst, but the most ephemeral was a bag of Pork Scratchings.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty-second bottle (C2), 20th December 2017

I obviously care about work. Today I came home disappointed, frustrated and on the verge of miserable. I started the day needing eight exchanges for year-end and aiming to get four of these. This evening I cam home with having achieved only one, with three plot buyers having pulled out. It means, only, that the business as a whole will make slightly less profit for the year. But I find that I care about that. Despite it being a Wednesday, I knew that this would be a whole-bottle night - and crab apple is a fine mid-week bottle. With any luck, it will help me sleep. Over the last week I have had long periods of wakefulness - not exactly worrying about work, but with that always being a background hum.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 15th December 2017

There was a definite first hit of gooseberry flavour in this wine, before blackcurrant became dominant. It is a sharp taste, and a light red - good for a Friday night after a monumentally busy week at work. It was a quiet night in, gathering energy for the weekend - which was to involve two Christmas parties and a titanic Christmas Card session. The parties were fun, the cards not so much.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A5), 14th December 2017

In the ongoing saga of Claire's job, what started off as a 3 year contract, changed to a 2 year contract, reverted to 3 years after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, has now - somehow - become a 5 year fixed term. This is excellent news and called for celebration in the form of a bottle of Prune & Parsnip wine, though it has left me irritated that the last, dreadful, five months could have been avoided. Still, it gave us excuse enough for an entire bottle of wine on a Thursday night and Claire is now employed until she is 52. Happy times!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Sixth Bottle (A2), 10th December 2017

I forgot to chill this wine. However, December did that job for me. It is bitterly cold and for that reason I have not left the house today. There is widespread snow throughout the UK, though not in Leeds. It has been a pleasure, though, to have a remarkably lazy weekend. The only productive thing I have done is to make bread. The wine has done its job, to the extent that I can barely keep my eyes open and it is only just past nine. It was its usual exotic, dry, floral flavour and a good pink colour too. But now I really must go to bed. I'll leave Claire to deal with the cats.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A1), 9th December 2017

We needed a decent bottle of Blackberry to go with steak, and this vintage is far superior to that of 2016. It really is a splendid wine - rich and fruity, yet dry enough to complement medium-rare steak in blue-cheese sauce.

We had a lazy Saturday, but I needed that - having had a manic week of work, and interrupted nights as the cats shat on our landing at 3 a.m. every morning - ignoring the litter tray placed there specially. It is very wearing - and a good job that otherwise Kato and Wiggy are affectionate and beautiful. However, this problem may have just been solved with different cat litter. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Tenth Bottle (B1), 3rd December 2017

It is a joy to have cats again. Today, we have been joined by two white cats - Kato and Wiggy. They are so white that it looks as if their artist has only drawn an outline and forgot to colour it in. Either that, or we have two ghost cats. They are affectionate and seem to be settling in (to the extent that Kato has tried to buy his food and what was my dining room chair now, apparently, belongs to Wiggy). We picked them up from Maurice at nine, and then have spent a lazy day getting to know them.

Of course, the wine that I opened had to be what and, as it is a significant event - getting our second set of cats - it had to be a good one. Rhubarb wine fit the bill nicely - definitely the white I make that is closest to real wine. Almost Chardonnay in flavour.


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Blackberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (B2), 26th-28th November 2017

On Sunday our house was quiet again. All visitors had left the day before and, whilst I love entertaining, having one's own space back is always a relief. It is a measure of how good the Thanksgiving holiday was that we had no wine on Saturday and only half a bottle of blackberry (which is now fizzy) on Sunday.

We finished the bottle having returned from meeting our next cats: Kato and Wiggy (which we have decided is short for Wilgefortis, and that makes it better). They are 6-year-old siblings, pure white and needed a home urgently. He is a bruiser, she is beautiful and both are affectionate.

St Wilgefortis - patron saint of bearded ladies

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Elderberry Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 24th November 2017

Jayne came round for Thanksgiving II on Friday night. Whilst much of the alcohol ration was provided by Prosecco and Whisky Macs, I also opened a bottle of elderberry. Paying no attention at all to what people thought of it, I am unable to report whether it was popular or not. The bottle was emptied, which must mean it was at least acceptable, and I enjoyed it - though a young elderberry has a certain roughness to it.

I disgraced myself by having to go to bed before 10:30, leaving Claire and the guests to continue their carousing.

They have missed 'young elderberry' from this list

Friday, 1 December 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (C4), 23rd-24th November 2017

I think I drank most of this bottle; I was well-sauced by the time I went to bed on Thursday. This was my reward for a day of hard-graft. It was Thanksgiving and Claire had not taken the day off work. Never having roasted a turkey, made a nut-loaf, assembled cranberry sauce or prepared a meal for seven, I was somewhat out of my comfort zone. But it all seemed to work and I even had some time for tidying. Hence the vast quantity of alcohol (Thanksgiving marks the opening of whisky-mac season too) including much rose-petal wine. And no thumping headache on Friday morning. Result!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Apple & Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (1), 23rd November 2017

Well, I liked this bottle of wine. I thought it light and fruity with subtle flavours of both apple and strawberry. It was entirely clear and its colour was white with an edge of pink. Sooz said that this wine would aid in not drinking too much. Harrumph.

It was a Thanksgiving bottle, and the evening was lovely. Andrew, Sooz, Richard, Linda, Mary, Claire and I fit round the table and ate more than was sensible, managing to leave enough leftovers for a week. Happy times!

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

Monday, 27 November 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Nineteenth Bottle (A5), 22nd November 2017

I marked the start of my Thanksgiving holiday by opening and finishing a bottle of blackcurrant wine. Still, I had Claire and Sooz (who has arrived from Dublin) to help me. I didn't take much notice of the wine's flavour - sharp and blackcurranty I imagine. Instead, we sat on the dining room sofa and chatted about this and that until nearly midnight. I was in a good mood after WYSO where we played Grieg's Piano Concerto with the soloist. It sounded fantastic and our concert on 2 December should be a good one.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Orange Wine - Eighth Bottle (B1), 21st-22nd November 2017

Mostly drunk on a Tuesday!

Claire's new job has yet to take off into any sort of realm of usefulness. She came home bored and dispirited and a bottle of wine was in order. Madeleine's quintet was cancelled so I was able to help her with that, and we got through most of it. To maintain a veneer of decorum, a glass each was saved for Wednesday night after WYSO. This was polished off as I sat down with Claire to plan my turkey-cooking timetable for Thursday.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty First Bottle (E1), 15th-16th November 2017

As we returned to the house from WYSO, Claire asked whether we had any wine. We have rather a lot, so I fished out a bottle of crab apple from under the stairs. It had been a good rehearsal - I have new bassoon reeds and they make such a difference. I had not realised how much effort I expended in playing on my old ones. I can now do dynamics and everything! Anyway, a glass of wine slipped down easily but I showed restraint by not refilling my glass.

The rest of the bottle waited till Thursday, when I spent much of the evening watching I Know Who You Are. This second series is not as good as the first - a common occurrence. It is too event-led, whereas the last series depended on characters.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Ninth Bottle (C4), 9th-12th November 2017

On Thursday night, while on a train from London to Leeds, my phone buzzed. A text from Claire read "I have opened a bottle of wine". I sent one back suggesting that she may have chosen Peach & Banana, but was informed that it was 'nice', thus ruling out that flavour. When I returned, several glasses of wine ahead (travelling First Class is marvellous), I found this bottle of rhubarb in the fridge - so poured Claire and I another half glass each. Claire was right; it is a good bottle of wine.

We left the remainder in the fridge whilst we spent the weekend in Newcastle, celebrating Bob & Judith and Richard & Dianne's 50th Wedding Anniversaries. This involved a Barn Dance and lots of beer. I dosy-doed, swung and stripped the willow like a good 'in, driving back to Leeds on Sunday morning with a headache. Half a bottle of wine between us on Sunday was plenty.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Blackberry Wine - Third Bottle (C4), 7th-9th November 2017

I am writing this several days after this bottle was emptied and consequently can remember little about it. Claire was suffering from existential angst on Tuesday and wine generally helps with that. We drank Tuesday's share (about half the bottle) to a fabulous, if I do say so myself, beef stir-fry - using up some of Sunday's roast. Then a glass each on Wednesday after WYSO (where Tchaik 5 is starting to get some sort of shape) and Claire finished the bottle on Thursday as I was returning from London. The wine was alright - not as disappointing as I had remembered. And there is praise indeed.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Elderberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (B1), 5th November 2017

What a great bottle of wine. Everything that elderberry should be - dark, earthy, sophisticated. It was also my only bottle of the weekend: Friday had been Book Group and we were playing Handel's Coronation Anthems in Pontefract on Saturday. Having just the one bottle is a rare event, and I savoured it all the more for that reason. Claire cooked a slab of beef in Madeira, auditioning the recipe for Christmas, when all the Taylors will descend. It got a definite approval from me - far better than turkey. And we will have enough of that in a few weeks for Thanksgiving.

One of the Coronation Anthems involves this man

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Apple Wine and Apple & Strawberry Wine - The Making Of...

Apple Wine

At WYSO in early September, Katie asked me if I had any use for apples. I did a quick mental calculation of how much wine I have made so far this year (result: 'Too Much') and replied that I would be delighted to receive 4 lbs. Her apple tree has been prolific this year, whereas ours is far less fruitful than last.

Blurred apples
On Wednesday 13th September, Katie brought me a carrier bag full of red sweet-smelling apples. I do not know the variety, but they are eaters rather than cookers and have snow-white flesh. On Monday, 18th September, on returning from St Neots and Emily & Marco's wedding - a wonderful family affair enlivened by Mexican food and tequila shots - I had a spare afternoon so started the wine.

I washed the apples, cut them into eight pieces each and whizzed them through the food processor on the 'slice' attachment. Next I minced 1 lb of sultanas, again using the food processor, and put all this into the bucket along with 3 lbs sugar. I boiled 6½ pints of water and poured this over, filling the kitchen with an apple scent. The same evening I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase.

On Thursday night, 21st September (after 'Caramel Week' on Bake Off) I put the liquid into its demijohn in the usual manner. There was only just enough and I had to squeeze the discarded pulp for its last drops. The wine is brown and has a large head of foam. I'm wondering if I have made a real ale.

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

Apple & Strawberry

Our apple tree has not been fecund this year, so I am leaving most of the fruit to the blackbirds. However, by early November, enough apples had fallen off intact for me to collect 4 lbs and make Apple & Strawberry Wine.

I sliced up the apples on 2nd November using the same method as set out above and added these to my bucket containing 1 lb of crushed strawberries. I poured over 6½ pints of boiling water, again releasing a fabulous scent, and then stirred in 3 lbs of sugar.

I transferred the liquid to its demijohn on Tuesday evening, 7 November. The wine is pinker than last year and the taste I got promises great things.

The Apple is on the left, after 6 weeks in its demijohn

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Ninth Bottle (A6), 31st October - 3rd November 2017

It was the Bake Off final on Tuesday night, and of course that called for a bottle of wine. I opened Prune & Parsnip for no better reason than we have not had one in a while. There is nothing that suggests 'baking' about it (though it could be used in a trifle). I will miss our Tuesday nights, curled up on the sofa, watching Reality Television and eating treats.

Claire had what remained of the bottle (which was not a right lot!) on Friday before Book Group (South Riding by Winifred Holtby, a book I cannot recommend enough - I loved it). I was driving and she was in need. But her new job starts Monday, which means things should start to look brighter.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (5), 28th October 2017

Whenever I am playing something at Music Club I will put a good bottle of wine in the fridge so that I have something pleasant waiting for me on my return. This time it was Crab Apple & Strawberry for my first ever solo performance. I was far outside my comfort zone so chose something easy to play well, rather than something showy to play badly: Song of the Penguins by Sam Haywood and  Little Suite by Philip Godfrey. And I gave them a pretty decent shot, meaning the wine was a celebration rather than used to drown my sorrows. Claire had stayed home - she is low at the moment - to watch Midsomer Murders and eat crisps, and she kindly left me half the bottle. It is a fine wine - crisp, fruity, dry and satisfying.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Jasmine Tea Wine - The Making Of...

For several years I have been thinking about the letter J for my wine alphabet. I had rejected 'Jam' as a cheat, though there is a recipe and we have many jars of ancient and random jam in our attic. Jack-fruit comes in tins, is fibrous and has an odd, meaty texture. Much as I would like to turn Jerusalem Artichokes into wine, I don't think we are growing them in sufficient quantity. The solution presented itself at my wine party last week. Rodney suggested Jasmine flowers, which would be expensive and difficult to obtain. Liz refined this to Jasmine Tea, which is sold in Sainsbury's and works out at 10p a bag.

The ingredients, plus a gate-crashing orange
On checking my diary for Tea Wine, I noticed that I had written "Never make this wine again", or words to that effect. Advice is there to be ignored. Anyway, that was black tea, and this is Jasmine Green Tea, so it is bound to be different. I remember that my previous tea wine had too much flavour - it was cloying, strong and too sweet - so I have cut down the quantities of most ingredients.

Measuring the tea
It being the end of October and with me not having made any wine so far this month, I started the wine this morning, 29th October. This time I have used 1¼ oz of tea (which was 15 tea bags, ripped open and shaken out), 3 oranges (just the juice), 1 lb minced sultanas and 2½ lbs of sugar. I boiled 2½ pints of water and poured this over the tea in my bucket. This brewed while I squeezed the oranges and minced the sultanas (in the food processor). I put these in the bucket, added the sugar and then poured in another 5½ pints of boiling water. I can't imagine that adding the water in two stages will have made any difference, but this is what I did last time (and that was obviously such a success).

Stirring the tea
When I came to put in the fermenting aids on Sunday evening, I found my wine-making tin bereft of yeast. A quick Facebook message to Liz and a saunter down Bentcliffe Drive saw me returning with her tub. I added a teaspoon plus nutrient and pectolase. The wine went into my demijohn on Thursday evening, 2nd November. Currently its colour is an unattractive greeny-beige, and I fear this will taste awful. But now, at least, the alphabet is complete!

The end of the alphabet
If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Ugli Fruit Wine - Third Bottle (2), 26th October 2017

Thursday is not normally a 'whole bottle of wine' evening, particularly if I am planning to walk to work the following day. All I can say is 'oops'.

In fact, Claire continues to have a difficult time with the university's HR departments and felt in need of half a bottle of wine. We were having fish and a citrus wine always goes well with that, so I extracted a bottle of Ugli Fruit. I think it is lighter in taste than Orange wine but they are definitely similar. The fish dish was invented by Claire from what we have in the fridge and was so good that she has recorded the recipe in her Little Red Book.

Fish Lairs [sic]

Par boil some slices of potato and leek
Mix slices of potato and leek with cream, salt, pepper and lots of garlic
Put fish fillets on top
Put slices of lemon on top
Put slices of courgette/marrow (aka zucchini) on top
Put herbs on top
Drizzle olive oil on top
Bake about 200 degrees C until done

Delicious and nutritious.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Ya-Ya Pear Wine - Third Bottle (4), 21st October 2017

Ladies & Gentlemen, may I present this year's loser of the Wine Party. Ya-ya Pear was the lowest scorer of my 12 bottles, with an average score of 2.19 out of 5. It was the lowest scored wine by Rachel, Helen, Claire, Phil, Anthony and me. Only David ("4 - Length") and Matthew ("3 - Crisp and delicate") had anything nice to say about it. We still managed to finish the bottle between us, however and I am not aware of any hangovers the following morning. Four guests stayed over: Rachel, Duncan, Kate and Jayne; and all were bright, chirpy and ready for bacon sandwiches on Sunday.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Peach & Banana Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 21st October 2017

This is awful news. I thought that with this bottle we had completed our Peach & Banana journey into darkness. But there is still a bottle left, lurking somewhere under the stairs.

I used the Wine Party as an excuse to get rid of this bottle. Curiously, though, it has improved beyond nearly undrinkable. In fact Lindsay and Matthew both gave it a 4.5 and its overall average was 2.39. It did not come bottom of the pile. Rodney's face, though, was a picture as he took his first sip. It was the epitome of disgust. He scored it a zero.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Second Bottle (3), 21st October 2017

We are into the bottom three wines at this year's Wine Party and I am genuinely surprised to see Blackcurrant there. It came tenth of twelve. Duncan scored it -1 and wrote "Repellent. The devil's wee". I probably should not take a bottle to Cambridge for New Year's Eve. Helen and Anthony both scored it a 4, though.

The party as a whole was excellent, but left me completely wiped out on Sunday. I had to have two naps and otherwise the most energetic thing I did was to lie on the chaise-longue and read. #NoLongerInMyEarly40s

Monday, 30 October 2017

Orange Wine - Seventh Bottle (A5), 21st October 2017

I had not planned on opening this bottle at the Wine Party. At previous parties, ten bottles of wine had been plenty, with some to spare. And this year I initially opened eleven. By ten o'clock, though, I could see that a new bottle was needed so I fished out an Orange. It was not a universally popular choice, coming 9th out of 12. Matthew hated it: he gave it a score of -1 and wrote 'Toilet Duck'. Claire riffed on the same theme - "Superior cleaning fluid" - but was generous and awarded a 3.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Fig Wine - Second Bottle (4), 21st October 2017

Blimey, this wine split the room. David scored it a 5, Lindsay scored it a zero, and it got every number in between. This meant it came eighth out of twelve at the Wine Party, with an average score of 2.86. It shows how subjective taste can be. Those who liked it tended not to comment (though Kate wrote 'Tingly'). Those who did not were more eloquent, saying 'A bit musty', 'Grassy aroma' and 'Smell is not inviting. Taste is worse'. I awarded Fig Wine a solid 4. It is not as good as 2015's vintage, but I would still choose it above many of my wines. I think some of my guests were just wrong!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (A2), 21st October 2017

In past years blackberry wine has won the Wine Party. This year it has come in the bottom half: seventh of twelve with an average score of 3.21. A poor show. Rachel and I conjectured about what might be different - possibly the sweetness of berries picked.

Three of my guests - Phil, Matthew and Anthony - described this as tasting like real wine, with only Anthony thinking this was a Good Thing. It was a glorious party, though - mostly taking place in the dining room and kitchen. Despite the fire and moody lighting, our front room was ignored.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Ginger Wine - Fifth Bottle (1), 21st October 2017

Without Liz's score of 1 (with no comment) and Anthony's score of 0 ("Too much ginger") this wine would have done well at the Wine Party. Everyone else scored it between 3 and 4.5. With those scores, though, it came sixth of 12 with an average score of 3.39. It was Rodney's favourite, and he knows a thing or two about wine. Matthew wrote that it was like being hugged by a cactus and awarded it a 4.

To some extent I'm vaguely surprised that anyone came to the party. Storm Brian meant that it was such a filthy night that even stepping outside to fetch my white wines (which had been cooling due to no room in the fridge) meant I got an absolute drenching - despite wearing full waterproofs.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Fifth Bottle (C4), 21st October 2017

We are definitely into the 'Also Rans' at the Wine Party. Rose Petal came a disappointing fifth out of 12 with an average score of 3.41. I think Jayne skewered the results by awarding it a zero and throwing her glass down the sink. Three people gave it top marks and that is more than one of the joint winners. Rodney thought is bitter and Duncan, having been versed in teenage lingo by Daisy (the youngest guest at 16) wrote "Proper bum". Which is a good thing. Apparently.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Apple Wine - Second Bottle (3), 21st October 2017

Apple wine came a respectable Fourth out of Twelve flavours opened at my wine party, with an average score of 3.47 out of 5. No-one gave it top marks but its lowest score (courtesy of Duncan) was 2.5. Lindsay wrote "Evocative of drinking bottles of Merrydown in a graveyard aged 17" and Matthew wrote "Not so much a bad wine as a fine cider" which is praise of sorts. I think.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 21st October 2017

This wine came third at my Wine Party, with an average score of 3.92 (out of 5) and more people trying this flavour than either of the winners. It was my personal favourite of the evening. Matthew noted that it was 'squashey' and I have no idea what that means.

The Wine Party was excellent. There were 17 people there and it went on until past midnight. If you include the two bottles of Prosecco at the end but discount the Chardonnay at the beginning (which was only a third full) we got through 14 bottles.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Shirley Smith's Mystery Wine (4) - 21st October 2017

When Shirley died in 2009, I found a demijohn full of dark liquid in her house. Lucy said I could have it, so I took it home and bottled it. There were no labels so I have no idea from what it was made. Having opened a bottle for this year's Wine Party (where it was joint winner, with an average score of 4 out of 5) I am none the wiser. I thought it was extraordinarily like port, whereas others thought sherry, Helen said 'Masala' and Claire wrote 'tastes of aged oboe reeds'. Despite Claire's opinion, I loved this wine. Dark, sweet and mysterious.
(This is an image I got for a google search of 'Dark, sweet, mysterious'. Shirley loved cats.)

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Elderflower, Rhubarb & Mint Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 21st October 2017

Officially my best bottle of wine. This flavour won 2017's Wine Party, getting an average score of 4 out of 5. Four guests gave it top marks, with only David scoring it as low as a 2. Helen wrote "My favourite so far," which sounds like a reasonable, if bland, comment, until you notice it was her first one tried. 'Delicious' appears a couple of times. Phil tried it twice, thinking it was two separate wines. He gave them/it the same score, but remarked that the second was 'perhaps a bit cleaner' than the first. It wasn't.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Eighth Bottle (B4), 19th October 2017

While on the motorway, heading for Newcastle, in the dark and the rain, Claire said she was feeling peckish. I replied that I hadn't had sufficient brainpower to even think about food. "I have thought plenty about alcohol, though." It was some relief that we arrived safely and I did not give the wine any cooling time at all before opening it.

We were in Newcastle as a half-way stopover before Jennifer's funeral on Friday, which was in East Lothian. She was buried in a forest on a beautiful autumn day in which dappled sunlight filtered through the beech trees. Her send-off was a strangely lovely and moving experience.