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, 16 June 2018

Rhubarb, Mint & Elderflower Wine - The Making Of ...

Quiet weekends are a marvellous thing. Whereas last weekend was a whistle-stop tour of Newcastle and family, this weekend has had nothing specific planned. A perfect opportunity to indulge in some wine-making. And, in fact, Rhubarb, Mint & Elderflower is one of those wines which requires much of the day to be set aside. I didn't help myself by also deciding to bottle 3 demijohns of blackberry wine. Rinsing and sterilising 18 bottles is perhaps not the speediest or most interesting aspect of the wine-making process.

And elder tree in bloom
On Saturday, 9th June, early afternoon, I set out to Allerton Grange fields with plastic bag in hand. The elderflowers are a week earlier than usual and gave off more pollen than I remember seeing before as I picked them. I concentrated on the blooms with a hint of citrus yellow and only took a few per tree. This bit of the elderflower process takes no time at all and I came away with less than half a bag full.

Not quite a pint of elderflowers and rhubarb sticks
It was the next bit that was tedious in the extreme; stripping the flowers from their stalks. I did this outside so that the tiny flies could roam free (and not end up covering our windows) and it took me over an hour. Even at the start I was not particularly careful about avoiding the thinnest bit of the stalks, and by the end I cared not a jot. This produced a little less than a pint of flowers, which is Good Enough.

Spear mint from our garden
I plucked just over 3 lbs of rhubarb stalks from our garden, sliced these up - they are starting to get woody - and put these in the bucket. I added the elderflowers and a medium sized handful of mint - both pepper and spear (but not water-mint which is unpleasantly bitter) - which I shredded.

The main ingredients in the bucket
I poured in 3 lbs of sugar and 6½ pints of boiling water, gave it all a stir and left it over night. On Sunday morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase & nutrient.

I put this into the demijohn on my birthday (Thursday) whilst drinking pink champagne. The wine will not be suitable for vegans. It has a number of black specks, which I assume are tiny drowned flies. Still, it is a pretty pink colour.

The end result

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Mint, Elderflower & Rhubarb Wine - First Bottle (3), 8th June 2018

But for its clarity, I think we have another winner. This wine has a several-note depth to it. The first taste is a light elderflower, but it is rhubarb that provides the wine's body. Then, right at the end, there is a hint of mint - more a freshness than a flavour. It is a pity, then, that the wine is not entirely clear. Rhubarb-based wines should glow with a touch of bronze. This has the look of puddle water.

We drank the bottle after I had had a busy Friday at work where I spent much of the day irritable (and looking forward to a drink). Claire lit a fire - in June! Where has our glorious weather gone? And we both fell asleep on the sofa whilst trying to watch Midsomer Murders.

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

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Blackberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (A5), 6th-8th June 2018

On our return from WYSO on Wednesday night, Claire was grouchy. WYSO itself had been a good rehearsal - it needed to be: our Pontefract Castle concert is in a fortnight and we don't want to embarrass ourselves. But Claire was inexplicably cross. Half a bottle of blackberry wine and a tube of dill-pickle flavoured Pringles later, things were rather rosier. Funny that.

This batch of blackberry continues to fall into the category of "A Little Disappointing", making it perfect mid-week drinking. The Pringles were both odd and interesting - neither of which you necessarily want in a crisp.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Orange Wine - Third Bottle (B4), 28th May 2018

Drunk on a Bank Holiday Monday. Like the previous bank holiday, the weather has been glorious. I have spent some of it in York, some of it in Leeds and much of it in the garden, finishing Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. This is a lovely book - unsubtle, yes and shamelessly pushing emotional buttons - but entirely charming and full of joy in the human spirit. It has been a while since a book has made me cry.

The orange wine was meant to accompany duck stew, but we has pretty much finished it by the time we ate. As I say, drunk on a bank holiday Monday.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A4), 27th May 2018

We have had a lovely afternoon and evening in York. It being a Sunday, Pop cooked Big Breakfast with four types of sausage. An old German student of his, Maya, and her two young sons were staying. The boys, 7 and 10, recited the whole of Wordsworth's Daffodils while I was eating watermelon - one of the week's more surreal moments.

In the evening I opened this bottle of rose petal wine, which was only okay though Pop said he liked it, and watched A Very English Scandal - a drama about the Jeremy Thorpe affair starring Hugh Grant. If all was true, it was barely credible.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (B1), 22nd-24th May 2018

The Bridge is back on television, which is excellent news. I do like a bit of Scandi-Noir. I binged on two episodes on Tuesday night and it looks as if this series will be just as tricksy as its three predecessors.

I drank my first glass and a half from this bottle while watching it - the wine is fine: light for a red, without the complex fruitiness I sometimes get from Tutti Fruti. Entirely drinkable nonetheless. We finished the bottle of the next two nights, but with little to report. (And may I take this opportunity to apologise for such a dull post!)

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B3), 20th May 2018

It has been a lazy, sunny Sunday rounded off by a bottle of Prune & Parsnip wine. Mostly I have spent my time in the garden doing things. One of those things was planting seeds: courgettes, beetroot and runner beans. Having just spent the week playing in the pit orchestra for Into the Woods, I will be disappointed if the beans do not produce a giant beanstalk running up to the sky within 24 hours.

The wine was, as ever, sherry-like and sent me to sleep.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Blackberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (A1), 19th May 2018

A small glass of this wine was my first alcohol for eight days. I don't think I have gone that long without drinking since my 20s. This week I have been playing in the pit orchestra for Into the Woods every evening, which has meant not getting home until shortly before 11. Hence being alcohol free - and I am relieved that I didn't really miss it.

The occasion of my glass from this bottle as a street party where everyone was encouraged to bring food and drink. The road was closed at both ends and the neighbourhood children played in the highway. It was an excellent occasion made all the better by fabulous weather. I pretended the party had nothing to do with Harry & Megan.

Into the Woods as performed by Brass Neck Theatre in Yeadon

Monday, 28 May 2018

Vanilla Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 10th May 2018

I took this bottle to Dorset with me as my 'Comedy Wine'. Rather than pouring eight glasses, one for everyone, I poured one glass instead and everyone had a sip. That was all anyone could face and this one glass was not finished. Richard said that it reminded him of something he might find in the garage, and it was agreed that it had an air of brush-cleaner to it. Overall, not a success. My fish pie, on the other hand, was a triumph.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Rhubarb Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

I have been later than usual in my May wine-making, but it has been a busy month. The first part was taken up with a glorious holiday in Dorset where we hunted for ammonites, basked in sunshine and walked ten miles a day. As soon as we were back in Leeds I had a week of playing in the pit orchestra for Into the Woods. This was less exhausting than I had anticipated, but I was out of the house from before 8 in the morning to nearly 11 at night, leaving no time for making wine. My plans to make dandelion wine were crushed and I didn't start my rhubarb wine until 20th May, the day that Nick came round with 9 lbs of rhubarb. He will get two bottles of the finished product in payment.

Rhubarb stalks
There were two varieties of rhubarb, one pinker than the other, and Nick provided more of the pink than green for purposes of colour.

After spending the day in the garden (we are having glorious weather) I went into wine-making mode. I washed the rhubarb and sliced the stalks thinly. These all went into my bucket and I measured and poured over 9 lbs of sugar. I boiled 20 pints of water (though that proved to be at least a pint too much) and poured this onto the rhubarb and sugar. (Rhubarb wine is really the easiest wine there is, and I think it is my favourite white.) I stirred it all up and left the mix overnight to cool down.

Rhubarb pieces - note the difference between pink and green
On Monday morning before work I added the yeast and two teaspoons each of nutrient and pectolase. Apart from the occasional stir, I left this until Friday evening, 25th May. Fortified with a Margherita (delicious) and a glass of zucchini wine (rather less so), I transferred the wine into its three demijohns. The first stage was to remove the majority of the rhubarb with a colander, used as a scoop. I then dipped my jug into the bucket, poured the wine through a nylon sieve and funnel into the demijohns. It was a quicker process than I had expected and the wine is the pastel pink that rhubarb wine should be.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Rhubarb Wine - First Bottle (A3), 9th May 2018

I decided that our holiday in Dorset would be a suitable occasion on which to open the first bottle of rhubarb wine. This was to accompany a pork, ginger & rhubarb stir-fry, made by Nick (who supplied the rhubarb for this wine). The general consensus was that this is a rather decent white wine, and possibly the best of the holiday.

We had an excellent day before the wine, walking around Cerne Abbas and its hillside chalk giant. The village is impossibly beautiful - the sort of village I thought only existed in films. The giant is intriguing - a rampant masculine figure that can only be viewed from the other side of the valley. In the evening I named my gin & tonic 'The Cerne Abbas Giant' on account of it being large and stiff.

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

Monday, 21 May 2018

Strawberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (5), 8th May 2018

This bottle of wine was converted into a cocktail, which I named 'Ben's Surprise', the surprise being that it was better than drinkable. Into each of nine glasses I put a dessert spoon of pureed strawberries, then equal measures of strawberry wine and prosecco, followed by a garnish of chopped strawberries. It has been inspired by a cocktail Rachel drank at lunchtime in Hix's Fish & Oyster House. A proper summery drink and an entirely suitable use of strawberry wine.

'Ben's Surprise' in the making

Friday, 18 May 2018

Elderberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (B6), 7th May 2018

English bank holiday Mondays are meant to be cold and grey and miserable. It is tradition. This one hadn't got the memo. It has been properly hot. Just the sort of day to go on a 10 mile walk, climb Dorset's highest peak (Golden Cap) and stare out over a turquoise-blue sea.

Ann cooked shepherd's pie (obviously a warm weather meal) and I opened a bottle of elderberry. Everyone admitted, on pressing, that they thought this wine was Very Good. Rightly so.

Golden Cap

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Tenth Bottle (A6), 5th May 2018

The weather was glorious today in Dorset, where we are holidaying. It is comfortably warm to sit outside in the evening and at Rachel's request I assembled the nine of us outdoors and poured this bottle of rose petal. Rachel had set expectations high, only to have them destroyed on first sip. The rose taste was subtle to the point of non-existence and there was a bitter secondary taste behind it. Wendy and Sooz both said they liked it, but I think they were being kind.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Ginger Wine - Second Bottle (6), 4th May 2018

After driving for 7 hours, covering 270 miles, I deserved a drink and, in fact, had many. At least one of those was a glass of ginger wine. We are on holiday on the Jurassic Coast and staying in a fabulous holiday home - Mulberry Cottage in Uplyme, Devon. The weather forecast for the week is promising and sitting with friends drinking too much wine is an excellent way to start a holiday. Though the drive was tedious, it is good to have arrived and this wine was enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry - Third Bottle (6), 3rd May 2018

We are on holiday! Only just - the long drive to Dorset happens tomorrow - but On Holiday nonetheless. To celebrate, I voted in local elections and mowed the lawn. More traditional forms of celebration included getting takeaway curry and opening this bottle of Blackcurrant & Gooseberry. Both wine and curry were excellent - this sharp wine has more than one note to it, and is easy to drink. I haven't been on holiday properly since Corfu in October last year. Dorset may not be as exotic but I am looking forward to it tremendously.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Rhubarb Wine 2015 - Tenth Bottle (B5), 29th April 2018

Chocolate and rhubarb wine is not a good mix. I was disappointed with my first glass: it had the taste of a wine that had aged badly; sour and musty. Claire said she had not picked this up. My second glass was far better and I can only put this down to not having had a mouthful of chocolate immediately before it.

The food we ate was curry (of the bean variety) with fabulous yoghurt pancakes. It all made my eyes water, though. I have a large mouth ulcer on my top lip, which makes eating hot food painful. Claire insisted I take some paracetamol - thinking it unreasonable that her cooking should make me cry.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Ninth Bottle (A5), 28th April 2018

We ate mushroom and evil sausage pizza while drinking this wine. The sausage was outrageously spicy and one of those that starts sedately but then explodes into hotness in your mouth. It was fabulous. Rose Petal Wine went well with it - the flavour is distinct enough to hold its own.

Our evening continued in front of the stove watching Primary Colors - a film I had wanted to see when it came out in 1998. It was a thinly veiled exposé of Bill Clinton's rise to power, and brilliantly done. The acting was mostly superb and it raised interesting questions about corruption, politics and whether lying and cheating for the greater good can be justified.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Third Bottle (A3), 24th-25th April 2018

Claire is massively busy at work. Every afternoon I get a text from her saying that she will be late. This week has been particularly fraught, to the extent that she missed WYSO. It is a good thing that she finds the work interesting and rewarding.

On Tuesday Claire asked, on coming through the door, what wine we were having and chose this from the options I presented. Prune & Parsnip is a good all-purpose white. It goes with anything and can be drunk on its own. On this occasion it went with left-over lamb curry and pilau rice.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Ugli Fruit Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 22nd April 2018

It has been a splendid weekend. Claire has been out both days playing her viola and I have spent my time pottering. When I enthused about what a great time I had had Claire was somewhat nonplussed and apologised for cramping my style. Mostly I spent my hours in the garden, clearing a bed, mowing the lawn (the first mow this year) and weeding our front garden - which was to be an allotment but is now an excellent home for goose-grass and dead nettle.

On Sunday night we drank a bottle of Ugli Fruit wine as something citrusy to accompany seafood pasta. Both wine and food were lovely, though I am less critical of the wine than Claire. I think it is smoother and more interesting than Orange.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Blackberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (B5), 20th April 2018

I was more than ready for a glass of wine when I got home. Six miles is a long walk on a warm evening, particularly when you need the loo from less than a mile in. Walking to work is fine, a pleasure even. Home again, though, is tedious and feels more up-hill. The blackberry wine was welcome and I drank rather more of it than Claire did. This walking is thirsty work. And blackberry wine is a solid, (mostly) reliable flavour.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (B3), 18th-19th April 2018

We seem to have gone from winter to summer in one fell swoop. The weather has changed from cold and wet to positively balmy. Long may it continue.

I opened this orange wine for something to drink after WYSO. It is the Pontefract Proms term and Wednesday was our first rehearsal. The music is its usual mix of light classical (Marriage of Figaro Overture) and modern cheese (a Richard Rogers Medley) but it is good to have Nick back at the helm.

We each only had a small glass, saving most the bottle for Thursday, when we finished it and then went for a slightly drunken amble round the neighbourhood in the evening warmth.

Modern Cheese

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Dandelion Wine - First Bottle (3), 14th April 2018

I am extremely pleased with this bottle. It has elements of a medium sherry, but with a lemon zing and something unusual besides. That will probably be the dandelions. It has a dark gold colour and was clear all the way down. I shall ration this flavour to one a year because dandelion wine is one of those that keeps on improving.

It was a suitable choice for the day, which has been the first day this year that has felt spring-like. No rain and the sun made a showing for part of it. I spent a couple of hours in the garden, cleaning the eventual rose-bed. Claire tidied borders and pottered, some of which involved pulling up dandelions.

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

Monday, 16 April 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2015 - Tenth Bottle (B5), 7th-8th April 2018

On Saturday night, I allowed myself only a sip of wine. This was because on Saturday afternoon I allowed myself a whole bottle. The bottle was an Italian red and the sip was Tutti Fruti. The bottle was better. I had been out for lunch with Rodney, and that always involves too much to drink.

We finished the Tutti Fruti on Sunday after a whole day of learning how to make lithographic prints using tin foil and coca cola. I hadn't been to an art lesson since I was 14 and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Claire concentrated on blood cells for her design, whereas my most successful involved rhubarb wine.

My lithograph
The image I worked from (but in mirror image)

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 5th-6th April 2018

My phone is ancient and temperamental. Every so often it decides not to receive texts or phone calls for a few days and then vomits them all out at once. Hence, on Thursday night whilst I was out for a curry and beers with Darren and Nigel, I did not get Claire's text asking what bottle she could open. Had I done so, I would have replied "Not gooseberry". Never mind.

I had a couple of small glasses on Friday night - I had been feeling delicate all day. This wine is bone dry and as sharp as needles with a gooseberry punch. I wonder how it will mature, but at this rate I am unlikely to find out.

This is what my phone looks like

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Third Bottle (B3), 3rd April 2018

I like this wine more than I remember. The rose petals are distinctive without being overpowering and there is an overall dark fruity taste. It was questionable whether finishing the bottle was a good idea, however. Particularly after a large glass each of crab apple wine. On a Tuesday night.

Claire and I settled in to watch Lewis but its denouement was ruined, rather, by mouse activity. A mouse brought in by Wiggy a few nights ago is in rude health*. All four legitimate household mammals spent 15 minutes chasing the illegitimate mammal round the dining room, failing to catch it. Yet again, we have rubbish cats*.

*Update: A couple of nights ago Claire was woken by a crunching sound. Wiggy was eating a mouse in our bedroom. Claire got up, didn't turn any lights on, picked up the (very much dead) mouse. By the soggy end. I slept through, but curiously had a dream of a cat eating a mouse.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty-fourth Bottle (A1), 2nd-3rd April 2018

I bottled my Blackcurrant on Easter Monday, but that did not produce sufficient wine. Hence opening this bottle of crab apple, which continues to be a decent, highly drinkable wine. I spent the evening watching the first episode of And Then There Were None: a book I remember from when I was 11 - it is a nasty little tale of cruelty and retribution, but has an all-star cast so is (at least) glorious to look at.

We finished the bottle on Tuesday (and then finished another) because Claire was still on her Easter holidays and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Ginger Wine - First Bottle (5), 1st April 2018

This is a superb bottle of wine. It is light and refreshing and gingery, but no so gingery that it is a novelty wine. Very drinkable too. Neither of us believed Claire when she said, on its opening, "We don't need to finish it". By nine o'clock, it was gone. I spent most my time reading Bird Cage Walk by Helen Dunmore, which was excellent. It is a novel dealing with power, abuse, loss and the conflict between public and private spheres. That makes it sound worth and dull, but it is entirely gripping - there is an element of 'thriller' to it, and Threat is ever present.

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

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Elderberry Wine - Third Bottle (A2), 1st April 2018

Judith cooked an enormous slab of beef for our Easter lunch, and I opened a bottle of elderberry wine to go with it. The food was superb and the wine was passable. This is not my best vintage of elderberry. Andrew's adjective of choice was 'frunty' and I have no idea whether that is a compliment or not.

The weekend was excellent, starting with a lovely visit with Keith and family (we taught Ellis how to play 'Cheat'), going round Craster to buy kippers, watch the waves crash against the pier and get thoroughly cold walking much of the way to Dunstanburgh Castle, and finishing the Guardian cryptic double crossword.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Kiwi Fruit Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Easter Monday should be spent in the garden, followed by a trip to the Garden Centre. This is simply what middle-class, middle-aged British people do. It is our cultural duty. On 2nd April 2018, I failed my nation. In my defence, for much of the day it was snowing and when not snowing there was a torrent of rain. Instead, I spent the morning tidying our bedroom (unearthing paraphernalia from Amsterdam - I was last there in 2016) and the afternoon making kiwi-fruit wine.

I have only made this flavour once before - five years ago - though if you google 'Kiwi Fruit wine' it is the second web page out of the box. I made up the recipe that time and pretty much followed it this. To start, I counted out 20 kiwi fruit, weighed them and added another two to bring the weight up to 3 lbs 8 oz. I cut each of them in half, held the half over the bucket and scooped the insides out with a spoon, discarding the skin. This had the advantage that the flesh and all spare juice landed squarely in the bucket. On the downside I discovered a combination of fine kiwi fruit hairs and acidic kiwi fruit juice has blistered my finger and caused an irritating rash. How I suffer for my hobby!

I mashed the fruit with a potato masher, added 3 lbs of sugar and poured over 6½ pints of boiling water. On Tuesday morning I put in a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin (I can't imagine that it needs any additional acid) and added the yeast. I then left the wine in its bucket until Saturday morning, 7th April, mostly forgetting to stir it twice a day.

On Saturday I got up early - Claire has just got a new phone and her alarm turns out to be a rooster call, which refuses to be turned off - and did my wine-making jobs before ten. Transferring the wine to its demijohn was straightforward and I could have reduced the water in the initial mix by a quarter of a pint - but at that level it won't make a difference. I am pleased that the wine has a distinctly green tinge, albeit on the greyish side. Claire thinks it looks like summer pond water - full of algae but (hopefully) no fish.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Eighth Bottle (C3), 30th March 2018

Bob & Judith's boiler has packed up - so this was an ideal time to visit them for a weekend. We took plenty of clothes and decided that washing would be an unnecessary luxury. In the evening, after visiting Keith, Jaki and Ellis (who I hadn't seen since June, which is far, far too long) I opened a bottle of rose petal wine. It was the only bottle we drank between the four of us, which is unusual, but it was a good one. Chilled, of course.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Orange Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (A6), 27th-28th March 2018

Having had a weekend stuffed with concerts (including a spine-tingling performance of an opera in a barely converted mill) and consequently little alcohol, I opened this bottle on a Monday night. Claire asked for something citrusy to go with fish. It has been over a year since our last bottle of this vintage and age has changed the wine. There is something fuller about it; you do not get the first, lingering hit of orange. Claire says she prefers her orange wine young and sharp, and I can't decide which I would choose. It was a pleasure, though, to have both Monday and Tuesday night at home not rushing off anywhere, recovering from the previous week.

Me at the opera...

Friday, 30 March 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Second Bottle (B4), 21st-23rd March 2018

WYSO has, in the past, played on a beach, in a warehouse loading bay and in a swimming pool. We have not done anything quirky for a while. That has changed this week: we are performing La traviata in a disused mill. On Wednesday night we rehearsed there for the first time. It was so cold that you could see your breath. As the singers sang, their music took on this physical manifestation. I wore four layers - three of them fleeces - and could not get warm. Home, then, for a glass of prune & parsnip. Friday was much better, and the opera is sounding fantastic. We finished the bottle as a wind down.

This is a picture from the performance

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Fig Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 18th March 2018

When will it be warm? The weekend has seen yet more snow and I long for a proper Spring. We were in St Albans over Saturday night for Lou's 50th birthday and hot footed it back to Leeds on Sunday morning for a two o'clock rehearsal in Ilkley. Sunday night was spent curled up on the sofa in front of the stove watching Lewis and apologising to the cats. I opened the fig wine for our meal of defrosted leftovers (which was better than that sounds). The wine is lovely - really figgy.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - 21st Bottle (D3), 16th March 2018

I was all prepared to be distinctly cross with our plumber, but I ended up giving him a bottle of blackcurrant wine instead. He hadn't arrived when we were told he would - by a matter of several hours - and ultimately he did not fix the problem (though he is coming back). However, he was charming and interested in the wine and (most importantly) saved us £100 be declaring to the administrating firm that he had fixed the problem within an hour (rather than failing to fix it within two). That, I think, is worth a bottle of one of my better wines.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Blackberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (B4), 14th-16th March 2018

Returning home from WYSO, I asked if I should open a bottle and received a positive response. We had been rehearsing with the chorus for La traviata where the six men outsang the thirty or so women. I chose blackberry as a decent mid-week bottle. In past years, blackberry has been for special occasions only, but not this vintage.

I finished the wine on Friday after being in the audience of Vivaldi's Gloria  and Bach's  Magnificat. Claire was playing viola in the tiny orchestra. The Vivaldi was better than the Bach: it felt like the choir were more familiar with it. We walked back in the snow and warmed ourselves with alcohol.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (B6), 10th March 2018

Richard & Linda came round for a meal, and what a meal it was. We started with a carrot & orange soup accompanied by walnut sourdough bread. Our main course was a smoked mackerel quiche with potato slices roasted in lemon juice and rosemary. We broke for a cheese course and then finished up with rhubarb fool and ginger shortbread. Claire made it all (other than the cheese) and my contribution was shopping and tidying. I feel I got the better deal.

I opened a bottle of rhubarb wine on the basis that Richard prefers dry whites. He was really impressed with this one - thought it was one of the best of mine he had drunk. A grand evening.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Orange Wine - First Bottle (B1), 9th March 2018

There is water coming through our kitchen ceiling. This is not a feature one generally wants. 'Happily' this only started on Friday while Claire was in and it was dripping through a gap where pipes run down anyway. Dan Benn came round sharpish, stopped the pipe causing the problem and now we wait for a specialist plumber to fix it. The deal with the anxiety caused, Claire and I downed this bottle quickly - the wine is much the same as previous batches, if a little rougher - and retired upstairs early.

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

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Gooseberry Wine - First Bottle (3), 4th March 2018

Ordinarily I wait a year between picking fruit and drinking the first bottle of wine. However, I think that gooseberry may be a wine best drunk young, so I have opened this early. Also, it was a suitable bottle to take round to David & Liz's: we have given them six cuttings from our gooseberry plants and seeing as I have converted Liz to making her own wine, I thought I'd show her what gooseberry wine was like. This was a high-risk strategy: I have had some spectacular failures with gooseberry. It paid off. The wine is bone dry and has a bite to it. There is a slight fizz and the gooseberry taste is there on the first sip before retreating into a prosecco feel. This wine is definitely a hit.

Any guesses as to why I have chosen this image?
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here.