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, 21 July 2018

Rose Petal Wine and Rose Petal & Orange Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Roses in our garden
This summer has been good for roses. Our white rose has produced blooms in abundance and the red rose doubled its output from last year's two flowers. Meanwhile in my parents' garden Pop has been under strict orders to collect as many roses as are available. Claire and I went over on Saturday 14th July to visit, though in truth the primary reason was to collect rose petals rather than filial duty. Mom has been away in Nebraska and I do try to see my father at least once when she is absent. Collecting wine ingredients is as good an excuse as any. It was a lovely evening - Pop cooked us smoked mackerel, a food I disliked as a child but now love, and we chatted about friends and family.

Rose in my parents' garden
Back home, on Sunday morning, I started the wine and again have made a double batch of rose petal and a single batch of rose petal & orange. For the 'pure' rose petal I measured 8 pints of rose petals and put them in the bucket. I minced 1 lb of sultanas, juiced two oranges and measured 5½ lbs of sugar. All these went in the bucket, were covered with 15 pints of boiling water and stirred round until the sugar dissolved (Liz had come round and helped with this bit).

The rose petal & orange was more fiddly. I began by peeling three oranges very thinly, doing an excellent job of avoiding the pith (for once). I put the peel in a bowl and covered it with a pint of boiling water. I then juiced six oranges (including those three) giving me a pint of orange juice. This and 4 pints of petals went into a bucket with 3 lbs sugar and 5½ pints of boiling water.

Most of the ingredients for both wines
That evening I put yeast, nutrient, pectolase and tannin into each wine (1 teaspoon of each of the last three into the orange, about a teaspoon and a half into the pure). On Monday morning I poured the water that had previously covered the peel into the rose petal & orange, throwing out the peel.

The wine went into its demijohns on Friday evening, 20th July, with all solids having been strained out. All demijohns are brick orange in colour, with rose petal & orange being ever so slightly darker.

The Rose Petal & Orange is on the left

Friday, 20 July 2018

Apple Wine - First Bottle (1), 11th-12th July 2018

On bottling my apple wine, two annoying things occurred. Most spectacularly, I knocked an empty bottle from the counter onto the floor. Green glass everywhere and a terrified cat. Then on my last bottle, I snapped the string as I pulled it from the cork. Generally when I do this, I take the cork out, use a new one and try again. This time I thought "bugger it", put the wine in the fridge and opened it two days later. Apple wine is best drunk young anyway.

This is a rather fabulous bottle of wine: crisp and sweet and apple-y. There is a youth and freshness to it, which was appropriate to my circumstances on Thursday. I had just returned from playing with North Yorkshire Schools' Symphony Orchestra - and orchestra in which I played 31 years ago when I was still a flute. The drive back from Giggleswick had happy memories of two glorious weeks in 1987 - possible the best two weeks of my adolescent years.

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

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - Second Bottle (5), 6th July 2018

Memory and expectations combined can play odd tricks. I had remembered this wine as very good and therefore expected it to be so. Claire had remembered it to be poor with matching expectations. We were both confounded. For Claire, this was a pleasant bottle; for me it was on the right side of drinkable. The sherry flavour is too pronounced - more so than Prune & Parsnip. We agreed it should be a mid-week bottle.

It being a delightful evening, we ate and drank outside and stared into our ever-diminishing pond. Claire caught a flash of gold - we have a new fish! The Thieving Bastard Heron did not manage to eat them all.

The Thieving Bastard Heron in our pond

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - First Bottle (B2), 5th July 2018

Well, what a splendid vintage of blackcurrant wine this is. I think even Duncan might like it. Where blackcurrant wine is usually the sharpest of my reds, this one is your actual smooth and the taste is an explosion of fruit.

We had the entire bottle on a Thursday evening, which is not our standard practice. However, when Claire came home from work she announced that she was grouchy for no good reason and I wondered if wine might help. It did. It usually does. As did an episode of Midsomer Murders, where the body count was a frankly disappointing 'one'.

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

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Cherry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

On Saturday 7th July, back in the days when the country was still excited about the World Cup, Claire and I did our weekly shopping in Chapel Allerton. They have the world's smallest and busiest greengrocers there, where you have to fight your way through the crowds to select onions and then have a fifteen minute queue stretching out the door to pay. It was whilst waiting in this line that I noticed there were several 2kg boxes of cherries being sold for £3.50 each. I couldn't resist. I have only made cherry wine once before and that was five years ago. It was one of the best wines that I have ever made, so even though buying wine ingredients from a shop in July feels like cheating, I took a box of cherries with me.

A 2kg box of cherries
The same afternoon, I removed stalks from the cherries, weighed the fruit in Imperial measurements (4 lbs 7 oz - this is a pound and a half less than I used when making cherry wine before, so I suspect this one won't be as good) and washed them. As with last time, I did not de-stone the cherries. Instead I put them in my bucket and gave them a good mash, which was difficult to begin with but got easier. I poured in 3 lbs of sugar and covered this with 6 pints of boiling water, giving it all a stir. The bucket was then left for two days.

Cherries after mashing, before water and sugar is added
On Monday night, I took the cherry pulp out of the liquid (using a colander first and then a jug and sieve), straining the liquid into my biggest pan. I boiled this up - creating a scum on top - and then poured it all back into the bucket, scum and all.

On Tuesday morning, 10th July (England was still excited about football) I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of citric acid, pectolase and nutrient. I also had a sip of the liquid, which was insipid rather than bursting with cherry flavour. Hmmm.

This morning, Saturday 14th July (where England's World Cup hopes are but a distant memory) I have put the wine into its demijohn. I poured this through a sieve, removing some scum. There looks to be a large sediment, but the wine is a lovely cherry-red colour.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Rose Petal & Orange Wine - First Bottle (1), 2nd July 2018

This is a fabulous bottle of wine and definitely one to make again. The rose flavour is detectable without being overpowering and the orange gives it a zing. There is something refreshing and light about this wine.

Though it is a Monday night, we are technically on holiday, so having a bottle of wine is Fine. Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary, so we spent it in a posh hotel near Yarm. Today we stopped at Leake Church on the A19, something I have been meaning to do for a decade, and for which we had time today. It is a charming church with a twelfth-century tower, surrounded by eighteenth and nineteenth century gravestones, and well worth a stop.

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

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Strawberry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

On Monday 2nd July, rather than being at work, I spent my day eating breakfast at Crathorne Hall, drinking coffee in Yarm, investigating a Norman church just off the A19 and picking strawberries in Horsforth. It had been our twentieth wedding anniversary the day before and a suitable day for a holiday. Glorious weather too - though it has been glorious for two months now. I cannot remember a summer like this one.

Strawberry plants at the Pick Your Own
I went to pick strawberries by myself, which turned out to be a Good Thing. When I arrived at last year's Pick Your Own field, there was a large sign saying it had moved, with a corresponding post-code but no further address. Happily Claire was at home and googled the post-code for me, thus avoiding a frustrating and fruitless trip.

The Pick Your Own was not particularly busy and the strawberries (Florence variety) were abundant. Most the other people there were mothers with pre-school children having an afternoon out and trying to convince their charges to pick rather than eat the fruit. I wanted 5 lbs of strawberries - four for this batch and one for a mixed fruit wine later in the year, and came home with nearly six.

My haul of strawberries
I washed and hulled the four pounds I needed for strawberry wine (freezing the remainder) and mashed them in the bucket - turning them into a pink offal-like consistency. I poured over four pints of boiling water and then left it all until the following day, Tuesday 3rd July.

Strawberries in the bucket, pre-mashing

On Tuesday I took the pulp from the liquid, firstly using a colander and putting the pulp in a plastic bowl and then pouring the liquid into a demijohn through my nylon sieve and funnel, again retaining the pulp. I poured two pints of cold water over the pulp and swirled it round a bit. This sat infusing while I cleaned and sterilised my bucket. I then separated the pulp from the new liquid, putting the liquid in the bucket and discarding the pulp, and poured the strawberry juice in the demijohn back into the bucket.

Strawberries in pureed form
I added 3 lbs of sugar, the yeast and a teaspoon each of tannin, pectolase and nutrient. This frothed away to itself over the next four days and I stirred it occasionally.

I poured the liquid into its demijohn on Saturday 7th July, leaving sufficient space at the top to avoid any overspill during its most active fermentation, keeping some back in a bottle for topping up. Its colour is more pink and less post-box red than I think is usual.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (1), 30th June 2018

I took this bottle to Karen's Chamber Music Party in Ilkley. Claire was playing quartets by Schumann and Mozart, and I was the designated drinker. It was a lovely evening and civilised way to spend a Saturday - listening to string quartets whilst knocking back the wine. The strawberry wine was mostly drunk by me and Sophie - who thought it particularly good. Quite rightly too. Strawberry wine is one of my best. It is stuffed with strawberry flavour but stays on the right side of 'dry' and has a beneficial fizz. What's not to like?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fifth Bottle (A2), 27th-28th June 2018

Having had a weekend of concerts, I am now in that summer period where there are no orchestras to dash to on weekday evenings. This meant a leisurely Wednesday night, where our meal was lamb chops and three sorts of salad, plus most a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti, which I think is improving with age. Lots of fruit flavours and a strong hint of rose. We watched an old episode of Doctor Who on the sofa - Donna Noble's first appearance in The Runaway Bride - entertaining fluff. On Thursday Claire was out playing string quartets so I took it upon myself to finish the bottle.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (4), 21st-22nd June 2018

I was at Pat & Peter's on Thursday night when Claire opened this, though I had a fortifying glass on my return. This left over half the bottle for Friday, and half a bottle between two on a Friday night is distinctly Not Enough. We solved that particular problem by drinking margheritas in the garden, enjoying our summer heat and then went for a Chinese Takeaway, which I have not done for many, many years. The alternative would have involved turning half a leek and three carrots into something edible, as this was all we had in the fridge. Even with half a bottle of blackcurrant wine, that would have been an unsatisfactory meal.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Crab Apple Wine - 25th Bottle (C5), 17th June 2018

A lazy Sunday evening bottle. We drank most of it before the food was on the table - which is about par for the course, but managed to save enough for one glass each to roast poussin and seasonal vegetables. By the time pudding appeared, the wine was gone and we had to make do with bush tea thereafter.

Earlier in the day I was uncharacteristically practical. We have bought two self-assembly rose arches and, under Claire's direction, I managed to assemble one of them. There was very little swearing involved. Now all we need are climbing roses.

The wine continues to be tasty - and I had thought that crab apple wine was best drunk young.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 15th June 2018

A Friday night on Bentcliffe Drive, and this was the fifth bottle opened and finished between the six of us. I think I had more than my fair share of those bottles too, so I have not opened one for Saturday. It was an evening with our neighbours and the theme was 'Indian'. By the time we had finished our marmalade kulfi and gulabjam, it was clear that a Rhubarb wine was required. Liz says that it is different to hers, and we are now planning an evening dedicated to alcoholic rhubarb. I still have bottles left from 2015 and 2016, and we have rhubarb gin in the cupboard. This plan has potential.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Elderberry Wine 2014 - Eleventh Bottle (B1), 15th June 2018

When eating curry with guests, a mature bottle of elderberry wine is the one to choose. Claire cooked three sorts of curry - Sindhi lamb, a dall and something involving tiny cucumbers - and made a couple of dips. We had Liz, David, Angie and Phil over. The food was exquisite and the wine accompanied it well, though was fizzier than ideal. Call me traditional, but I think I prefer my red wines flat. Still, it had a rounded and pleasant taste that held its own against the strong flavours in our meal. The evening was drunken and entertaining - and I needed that after a busy and difficult week at work.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Apple Wine - Third Bottle (2), 12th-13th June 2018

This was unexpectedly delicious. I had remembered my apple wine to be bearable and the sort of wine one might open on a Tuesday. It was far better than that (though I did, in fact, open it on a Tuesday). There is a crisp freshness to this wine and a distinct apple taste.

Tuesday had been a moderately difficult day at work - I'm having to choose between firms of insurance brokers - one of whom I love, but is expensive and the other of whom I feel is shiny and superficial, but is significantly cheaper (by several thousand pounds). It is obvious who I need to choose, but I hate it. Hence a couple of glasses of apple wine being welcome.

We finished the bottle after WYSO on Wednesday, when I was cross and tired. It was another welcome glass.

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.