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.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

An Apology

Hello Anyone who keeps up with my blog (I know there are a few - I have looked up Wasilla, Alaska on the map and explored it via Google StreetView.) You will have noticed that I have been dilatory of late in keeping up with this blog. I don't know if this is a permanent state of affairs, or a temporary blip. But I have started seeing this as a chore. I may take a break for a while, or I may wake up on Friday with renewed vigour. Bear with me for the moment - I hope that normal service will be resumed.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the house I grew up in.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Sixth Bottle (B5), 26th-28th June 2019

I am so pleased with this Xmas Tutti Fruti. It has a dark sweetness to it that really works.

The bottle was opened on a Wednesday and finished on a Friday - which was an exhausting day at work. It being half-year end, I had 13 house completions to do, and the last three did not happen until 15 minutes before close of business. My stress levels increased through the day and were only gradually deflated through the administration of wine and pizza during the evening.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Rose Petal Wine 2015 - Seventeenth Bottle (B3), 21st-25th June 2019

Claire has something odd going on with her nose. She has become hyper-sensitive to perfume, to the extent that she can taste it when people are in the same room wearing scent. Her current medication advises her not to drink much. Therefore I had this bottle to myself - chosen because Claire is not rose petal's greatest fan. In fact, this wine has aged splendidly.

I watched 63-Up while drinking this bottle - and it is an amazing, important piece of television, charting the ordinary yet extraordinary lives of ordinary yet extraordinary people. It has been part of my life since I was 14 and I find it exceptionally moving. It is the story of Everyman.

The 7-Up series: participants at different ages

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Apple & Strawberry Wine 2016 - Fourth Bottle (6), 16th June 2019

Claire asked for a nice bottle of wine for Sunday evening and I thought that Apple & Strawberry would fill that requirement. I was mistaken. The wine was thin and had the taste of a home-made wine left too long in its bottle. This is not a wine to age lovingly in the cellar. Drinkable but disappointing.

We had spent the day nosing round gardens in Chapel Allerton - many of which we had seen two years ago at the last Open Gardens for St Gemma's Hospice event. The evening (apart from drinking unexceptional wine) was spent in the company of  Line of Duty - we have now finished our binge watch of all five series. This took some doing but it has been excellent.

St Gemma's Hospice Gardens

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - Third Bottle (2), 13th-15th June 2019

We needed a mid-week bottle for Thursday night and Inca Berry & Raisin had studied that particular job description and submitted its application. Neither Claire nor I could really remember what it tasted like - and the answer is 'raisiny'. Not a bad wine by any means, but not one for Sunday Best.

We drank most of the bottle whilst watching the penultimate episode of Line of Duty, leaving a glass for Claire to have whilst I was off playing Sibelius 2 at Leeds College of Music. I don't think I have been in a concert before where the music comes to a shuddering halt and we have to start again. My lucky musical socks were obviously not working.

My lucky musical socks (plus Wiggy)

Monday, 1 July 2019

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (A2), 9th June 2019

Claire announced a few days ago that we had not had a soufflé for years. Therefore on Sunday night we had a cheese and smoked mackerel version, and it was delicious. Something citrussy was required - hence a bottle of orange wine.

Earlier in the day the Leeds Triathlon went past the top of the street - it was all over quickly as several fit men zoomed past on bicycles. It is not a sport that particularly grabs me (very few do) but it happening 50 yards from where I live means the effort involved in spectating is minimal. As is the investment of time. Which means more time for drinking orange wine.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Rhubarb, Mint & Elderflower Wine - First Bottle (3) 8th June 2019

Yet again, this flavour is fabulous and proves that I should make it every year. It has a freshness and lightness and is very drinkable indeed. There is a hint of mint that Claire believes should not be any stronger - it would be unfortunate to have a toothpaste-flavoured wine. I think it is more subtle than that, but will take her advice and not increase the mint in this year's batch.

We drank the wine in York, where my parents were surprised by our arrival. I had told them a couple of weeks ago, but crucially they had not marked it on the calendar. Despite, or maybe because of, the surprise, it was a lovely evening.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Blackcurrant Wine - Seventh Bottle (B4), 2nd June 2019

What a good bottle of wine! Sharp and fruity and tasty. We drank it to Toad in the Hole - where I forgot to check the oven temperature, meaning that the Hole/Yorkshire Pudding failed to rise. Damn and Blast. Still tasty, though.

We finished the bottle while watching the last episode of Series 4 of Line of Duty: we have watched the whole series in one weekend, with three episodes today. Really, I should be reading Wild Swans for Book Group on Friday, but I have never 'Binge Watched' before. I feel that this a valuable thing to have experienced.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Rhubarb Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 1st June 2019

I took this bottle of rhubarb wine along to the Bridgewaters' Chamber Music Party. Claire was playing in three pieces - Brandenburg 6, the Dissonance and a Dvorak piano quartet. I was the designated drinker.

It was a lovely evening and I spent much of it in David and Francesca's fantastic garden learning about different types of bumble bee (there are more than you might imagine). I took my duties as designated drinker seriously and for a while worried that I might be the only one to drink my rhubarb wine. However, I know at least three other people had a go and on the whole their experience was positive.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Rose Petal Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (A1), 30th May 2019

Over the past couple of weeks Claire and I have been binge-watching Line of Duty and on Thursday night it was the final two episodes of Series 3. Naturally we needed a bottle to see us through, and rose petal 2016 is very much a 'Thursday bottle'.

Line of Duty is excellent: the plotting is meticulous, the writing superb, the acting faultless and the whole package is tense and gripping. The Bad Guys are not all bad, and the Good Guys not all good. There is a moral ambiguity to most characters and that makes it all the more interesting.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Elderberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (A6), 26th-29th May 2019

Bob and Judith stopped in Leeds on Sunday night as a staging post between Wiltshire and Newcastle. This provided an excuse for several cocktails, a vegetarian moussaka and a couple of bottles of wine, of which this elderberry was one. Elderberry 2016 is a fine vintage: dark and rich and smoother than the previous year's. Due to the large amount of alcohol already consumed, we did not finish the bottle but left that particular task for Tuesday night.

Something else which is dark and rich and smooth

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Crab Apple Wine - 28th Bottle (D6), 26th May 2019

This was my 500 ml bottle of Crab Apple wine, chosen to share with Bob, Judith and Claire because we had just drunk two cocktails each and I planned a bottle of elderberry with our main meal.

This wine has not suffered from age at all. Bob described it as a close relation to Croft Original, though it is not as sweet as that implies.

The cocktails were negronis (of course) plus mint juleps, which I thought worked splendidly. I shall investigate these further in due course.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Blackberry Wine 2016 - Fifteenth Bottle (B1), 25th May 2019

It pays to have low expectations. This bottle of wine, bearing that adage in mind, was rather good. Blackberry 2016 has been a catalogue of disappointment, but this bottle was somehow better. It had a full blackberry flavour and was more full bodied than anticipated. We drank it to the Egg and Pepper Thing - Claire asked me to cook and rather doing a Something New And Possibly Exciting, I returned to an old favourite. It is delicious though, and far more than the sum of its parts.

Of course we spent the evening watching Line of Duty

This is not the Egg and Pepper Thing

Recipe for the Egg and Pepper Thing

Slice an onion, a red pepper and another colour pepper thinly and fry them in a large frying pan in olive oil, until soft
During this process put in a clove of crushed garlic and a sliced chilli (remove some or all seeds to taste)
Also during this process, but sometime later, add in chopped tomatoes
Keep frying until it is all soft and looks like a ratatouille
Make four spaces in the pan - as if creating a cross with the vegetable mixture.
Into each of the spaces, crack open an egg and drop it in (trying not to break the yolk)
Keep cooking until done
Cover in coriander
Serve with cous cous or whatever.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Mark Harland's Breakfast Wine - 24th May 2019

Mark brought this bottle over as payment for some pond plants. It is called Breakfast Wine, not because it is made of bacon, toast and coffee, or because of the time one is to drink it, but because it is made from fruits associated with breakfast - pineapple, grapefruit, banana. Possibly raspberries and/or blueberries too. It has a lovely pink blush to it and I thought that grapefruit was the prominent taste. In fact, the first taste is bitter and quite a jolt, but quickly a more rounded, pleasant flavour comes through. An interesting bottle.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Ginger Wine - Fifth Bottle (2), 19th May 2019

It was Actively Delicious Tofu in a sweet & sour sauce on Sunday, so Ginger Wine seemed like the right bottle to have. Both food and wine were excellent. The ginger is dominant in this wine, but not overpowering. It is not what one would call a subtle wine.

Earlier in the evening we had shared a bottle of Cava with David & Liz (the excuse being that Liz needed my corker to cork her rhubarb & raspberry wine) and later we watched the final episode of Line of Duty series one. It has been entirely gripping.

This entry is a little out of order. Apologies.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Mint, Elderflower & Rhubarb Wine - Fourth Bottle (6), 24th May 2019

Mark came round on Friday night, bringing a bottle of his Breakfast Wine with him. He needs to restock his pond after it had an encounter with an enthusiastic Labrador, and our pond is teeming with plant life (plus frogs, possibly fish and certainly snails - but he isn't having any of those).

I opened a bottle of Mint, Elderflower and Rhubarb on the basis that it is one of my best and we drank most of it in the garden, pretending that we were warmer than we were.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Rose Petal 2015 - Sixteenth Bottle (C1), 17th May 2019

I took this bottle over to York with me on Friday night, where my parents are entertaining Troy, my second cousin once removed. Apparently I have met him once before; when I was 11; but all I remember is his younger brother's drum kit. He had a Myers' look to him and the same rambling eloquence, and it was a genuine pleasure to meet him. I'm not sure what Troy thought of the wine, though. He had a glass (and also the final, somewhat murky last half glass) but mostly stuck to the beer.

This wine has not aged badly at all - the rose flavour is more subtle than other vintages and it has a slightly sweet but still refreshing taste.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fifth Bottle (B3), 12th May 2019

It has been a week with plenty of alcohol, and this bottle rounded things off nicely. But we have been on holiday, which is an excuse.

BBC i-player currently has all series of Line of Duty available. This has been recommended by so many people that Claire and I shared the bottle whilst watching episode one of series one. It is certainly promising - no-one is the clear hero and there is a ton of plot. I know what we will be doing with our free evenings over the next few weeks.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Third Bottle (A3), 11th May 2019

After our week's holiday in Kelso, we have decided to cut down our alcohol intake. Therefore we had no cocktails before sharing a bottle of wine between us. I think that is the very definition of moderation.

It has been an excellent holiday but, as always, it is good to be home. Being in our own bed and surrounded by cats has much to recommend.

The bottle we had was prune & parsnip, which is a reliably good bottle. We drank it to dall and rice - the holiday has involved a lot of meat and plain vegetarian food is now the order of the day.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Zucchini Wine - Third Bottle (3), 10th May 2019

Well, that is another bottle down the sink. Only three left to go.

This was my comedy wine for the Kelso holiday and saved until the last night, specifically so that Ann would not have to try it. She thinks that the joke has worn somewhat thin. In fact, I think this wine has lost some if its offensiveness. Nick said that its worst crime was blandness. Wendy & Richard thought it drinkable. They were in the minority but it does solve the problem of what to do with the remaining three bottles.

The wine was poor reward for having done a 12 mile walk (advertised as 9) to the top of Windy Gyle via the Heatherhope Valley.

Exploring an Iron Age Hill Fort above Heatherhope Valley

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Apple Wine 2016 - Fifth Bottle (4), 9th May 2019

I had meant to bring a bottle of Apple 2017 with me to Kelso, which is a better vintage than this one. Of the five proper bottles I took, this was (for me) the most disappointing. Wendy, though, preferred it to the strawberry.

The day had been spent in North Berwick,  where I met up with cousin Sarah, Rachel and Claire collected shells on the beach, a cafĂ© took an inordinate length of time to bring a plate of cheese and olives, and we walked up North Berwick Law in the late afternoon sunlight.

At the top of North Berwick Law

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Strawberry Wine - Third Bottle (2), 8th May 2019

Wednesday was our only wet day for the holiday in Kelso. Before we went I had been checking the weather forecast daily and it looked like the weather was going to be atrocious. The forecast lied. Even though Wednesday was wet, we still got a five mile walk in, beginning and ending in Dryburgh Abbey - a 12th Century ruin where Walter Scott is buried. Well worth visiting.

To thank everyone for putting up with my medieval buildings obsession, I opened a bottle of strawberry wine, which went down nicely. Ann voluntarily had a second glass!

Dryburgh Abbey

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Blackberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (A3), 7th May 2019

I shared this bottle amongst the ten of us staying in Kelso as a preamble to an entirely Greek (and vegetarian) meal cooked by Claire. The day had been a relaxed one where I spent much of it wandering around Floors Castle and its grounds. I only ever seem to go to stately homes when I am on holiday. This one had more turrets than you could shake a stick at and a room entirely filled with stuffed birds. It was an eccentric place.

More turrets than you can shake a stick at

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Rhubarb Wine - First Bottle (C1), 6th May 2019

On the basis that Nick supplied the rhubarb for this wine, I took the first bottle with me to Kelso and gave him the first glass. It is not as clear as previous vintages, but it has a pink blush and the taste is good. It always surprises me how much like a white wine it is.

The day had been spent climbing all three peaks of the Eildon Hills, starting from Melrose. This was a difficult and steep walk and was far more effort than its five mile distance suggests. Worth it for the views, though, and we had plenty of wine as a reward.

On top of the first peak
If you want to see how this wine was made, click here.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Rose Petal & Orange Wine - Fifth Bottle (3), 5th May 2019

Our week's holiday in May this year is Kelso in the Scottish Borders. We are staying in a splendid Georgian merchant's house that makes me feel like I am a member of the landed gentry. I have brought some of my best wine with me, and this was the first of my bottles opened. We had just returned from a 14-mile walk in the Cheviots and College Valley. Both walk and wine were excellent.

The house in which we stayed

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Blackcurrant Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (B5), 2nd May 2019

I opened this bottle on the Thursday before we went on holiday and made sure that I had a glass before going out to vote in the local elections. It was a difficult choice (who to vote for, rather than which bottle to open) and I spent many seconds in the voting booth before marking an X next to the Labour candidate. I am so against Brexit and Labour's policy is one of cowardice rather than leadership. But, these were local elections and the European ones are later in the month. I shall make my protest vote then.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Orange Wine - Eighth Bottle (B6), 28th-30th April 2019

Having tried rhubarb wine with a rhubarb and ginger syrup a week ago, I thought we should try the same syrup with orange wine. This really worked: the citrus flavour kicked through but did not mask the rhubarb or the ginger.

We drank much of the bottle on Sunday - a day which was mostly spent napping once our respective parents had left. Entertaining a few people in their late seventies or early eighties is exhausting! What remained of the wine was finished on Tuesday. I got the crunchy bits.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Blackberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (A4), 27th April 2019

On the basis that I wanted to open my best wines for Bob, Judith and my parents, our second bottle was Blackberry 2017. Claire had cooked an Eastern European stew, which contained sauerkraut and three types of Polish meat. Worryingly, one of these was labelled 'Grandma Shin'. I'm sure a spot of cannibalism never did anyone any harm. Other than the dinee, of course. Anyway, both food and wine were delicious and we all had room for pudding and another bottle.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Prune & Parsnip 2016 - Final Bottle (B1), 27th April 2019

This was the last bottle of three drunk at the Parents' Evening and was almost certainly a bottle too far. I can, however, barely remember it five days later. I think it was delightful, but then I was somewhat the worse for wear.

We had a lovely evening, though, and it was worth a poor night's sleep in the attic. Mom and Pop got our bed, so we made do with the sofa bed. It would be a good bed for one person.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Elderflower, Rhubarb and Mint - Sixth Bottle (2), 28th April 2019

We have not had a Parents' Evening for an age - many years - and for this one I wanted to treat the ancestors with some of my best wine. Therefore, we started with a bottle of Elderflower, Rhubarb and Mint (if one does not count the Cosmopolitans). It continues to be an excellent bottle: there is a freshness to it, with I think must be the mint. By the time we reached the dinner table, the wine was mostly gone, so I fished out a blackberry from under the stairs.

We are so lucky to have four parents between us, who we like enormously and who get on fabulously well with each other. It is the very opposite of a soap opera.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (B2), 22nd April 2019

This was the last of many bottles we have drunk over the Easter break. This time, though, it was just Claire and me after a long walk through the Yorkshire countryside. We walked about 7 miles round Leathley Woods and Lindley Reservoir, following instructions printed in 1989. It was hardly surprising that there were a couple of wrong turns and one period of being properly lost in a forest. However, we survived and celebrated at home with a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti, some of which was drunk in the garden and all of which was drunk before we ate. It fizzed nicely and is a fruity, excellent batch.

On our walk

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Rhubarb Wine - Ninth Bottle (A6), 21st April 2019

On Friday, Claire made a rhubarb and ginger cheesecake, keeping back the liquid as a sauce. Whilst the cheesecake was polished off over Friday and Saturday, we made less impression on the liquid. This proved not to be a problem. Diluted with rhubarb wine, this turned into something rather magical. Sweeter than neat rhubarb wine, with the subtlest of ginger hints, it really was a glorious drink. A perfect way to round off an Easter Sunday. Our house, which had been full of Taylor siblings, now only had us. I love having guests, but not having guests is also good.

The Taylor Siblings

Monday, 29 April 2019

Blackcurrant Wine - Sixth Bottle (B1), 20th April 2019

One might argue that after a bottle of blackberry at lunchtime, early evening negronis and a bottle of rose petal to go with our meal, that we did not strictly need a bottle of blackcurrant wine. One might have a point. However, this wine is so delicious - my best ever blackcurrant vintage - and Claire did ask so nicely, that who am I to refuse?

Early evening negronis

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Dandelion Wine 2019 - The Making Of...

I was very much in two minds about making dandelion wine this year: the Magnolia Petal wine was to be its substitute. But as I have been driving home the last three weeks, the road verges have been golden with dandelions. Each journey has been a temptation, and my resolve to give dandelion wine a miss has weakened with each one. Therefore, on Good Friday, I struck out with my jug and a plastic bag to pick flowers. I had intended to walk all the way to the fields by Potternewton Lane, but thought I should have a quick look at Allerton Grange before making that half-hour trip. I am glad I did: there were dandelions in abundance and, whilst it did my step-count no good, foraging for flowers round the corner meant that I spent an hour less of my day with wine-making activities.

It was a glorious afternoon, picking dandelions in the sunlight, listening to a competitive father beat his under-tens at football. An Indian osteopath was interested in what I was doing and I had a long conversation with him about wine-making. At no point did he look as if he wanted to back away slowly.

I measured 6 pints of dandelion heads in my jug and took them home to boil up in 7 pints of water, 2 lbs 12 oz sugar and the thinly peeled rind of two lemons and one orange. This was brought to the boil and boiled for 20 minutes. I squeezed the citrus fruits and put the juice and half a kilo of minced sultanas into my bucket, pouring the contents of the cauldron over this once the twenty minutes was up.

Next day I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin. I pretty much left the wine to its own devices until Thursday evening, 12th April, giving it only the occasional stir.

On Thursday, after returning from a solicitors' event involving beer and pies, I put the liquid into its demijohn, straining out the solids. The amount of water I had used was exactly right - nothing spare was left.

Dandelion wine at this stage does not suggest its eventual golden colour - though it isn't quite as brown as the magnolia.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Rose Petal Wine 2017 - Fourth Bottle (B4), 20th April 2019

One of the reasons that we are drinking this vintage slowly is that the bottles are mostly stored in the crypt. This means that it is a hassle moving things out of the cupboard under the stairs so that I can lift the floorboards. However, this is a vintage of rose petal to be savoured: so much better than 2016's batch. The rose flavour is subtle rather than overpowering and it is closer to a white wine.

We drank it to a Moroccan chicken and chestnut tagine that Claire presented to her siblings. Absolutely delicious and from Claudia Roden's Arabesque - a superb cookbook.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Blackberry Wine 2016 - Fourteenth Bottle (A6), 19th-20th April 2019

Another bottle of disappointing blackberry bites the dust. This really has been a dud vintage. There is little that is actively wrong about it, but it is far from interesting and has no depth or bite.

Apart from the glass that I had on Good Friday (which really was a glass too far), this bottle was shared with Andrew, Sooz and Claire for Saturday lunchtime (shocking!) sat in the shady part of the garden enjoying the spectacular weather we are having. This is how Easter Saturday's should be spent.

Our Garden

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Dandelion Wine - Second Bottle (1), 19th April 2019

On a day that I started my next batch of dandelion wine, which was Good Friday where Andrew, Sooz and Jayne were all here, it seemed right and proper that we should drink this year's bottle of dandelion wine. This was after having an early (and floppy) gin and tonic, followed by Cosmopolitans in the garden. The weather has been idyllic over the last few days (though we do need some rain quite badly, just not this Easter weekend).

This wine was good without being outstanding: a medium-dry sherry with a definite hint of lemons. I wonder how next year's bottle will be.

Cosmopolitans in the garden

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Rose Petal Wine 2016 - Fourteenth Bottle (B6), 17th-18th April 2019

On Wednesday I did my best to rescue a hedgehog. Walking from work to the car, I saw an extremely ill-looking hedgehog with flies landing on its eyes. After ringing 'hedgehog rescue' I wrapped it in my coat and drove it to the vet. In the waiting room were two rats, a snake and a tortoise. I handed the hedgehog over, left my number and was rung a couple of hours later to be told that it had been put down, which is what I had expected - at least it died in a painless and clinical way, rather than starving to death whilst being consumed by maggots. Still sad, though. Claire and I raised a glass of rose petal wine in its memory. It is what the hedgehog would have wanted.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Kiwi Fruit Wine - First Bottle (2), 14th April 2019

"If I was served this in a pub, I would be disappointed but I wouldn't complain."

This was Claire's verdict on Kiwi fruit wine. The main problem is that this wine is too sweet. Otherwise, it is mostly bland. Beautifully clear, though, despite my misgivings when making it. We drank the bottle after a Sunday spent in York, partly to see Mom & Pop, and partly to have a wander round York Open Studios - where I bumped into may people connected with my teenage years.

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

Monday, 22 April 2019

Apple & Strawberry Wine - Third Bottle (3), 12th April 2019

After last weekend's excesses (particularly Friday) I decided to have a week off alcohol. I managed Sunday to Wednesday. But, Thursday was Cornelia Gruntfuttock's birthday, so a bottle of champagne was obligatory. Then Friday night wouldn't be proper without at least part of a bottle. We had a whole bottle instead.

Have I mentioned how good apple & strawberry wine is? It is so light, so refreshing and the fruit flavour is present without being overwhelming.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 6th April 2019

When I asked Mary what bottle I should bring, she asked if I had any parsnip wine. She remembers a relative from her youth making this. Prune & Parsnip was deemed close enough, so this is what I took over. It was the night before our Airedale Symphony Orchestra concert and we stayed over in Ilkley. It was an entertaining evening and all woke with headaches the next morning. Mary was particularly impressed with the prune & parsnip wine, which we drank with an Amaretto and White Chocolate cheesecake. As this was the last bottle drank, I blame it for Sunday's grogginess.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Blackberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (A6), 31st March - 2nd April 2019

Having started our Sunday evening with negronis, we exercised some self-control and only drank half a bottle of blackberry wine. According to my step-counter, I had had a sedentary day (fewer than 3,000 steps) and this was because I spent the morning reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy - trying to get it finished in time for Book Group. Therefore, I could not justify having additional wine due to an active and exhausting day.

The blackberry was as good as ever and accompanied a slow-cooked lamb stew. I didn't get a look-in for the remainder of the bottle. Claire had a glass in the garden to celebrate her first Monday off work and then finished it on Tuesday whilst I was out playing Glinka trios with Madeleine.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Rhubarb Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (C3), 30th-31st March 2019

There are bits in this wine. Small flecks of brownness. At time of writing, there is still an inch left in the bottle and nearly all the bits remain in that. Tonight I shall be brave and will drink what is left, but to avoid foolhardiness, I will be aided by a sieve.

The majority of this wine was drunk on Saturday night whilst eating nut loaf and the first asparagus of the season (at great expense). Earlier in the day I foraged for magnolia petals for an experimental wine.

Aided by a sieve

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Rose Petal Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (A3), 29th March 2019

After a busy, stressful, yet ultimately successful and interesting week at work, what better way to relax than a Cosmopolitan cocktail followed by a bottle of rose petal wine? Our alcohol consumption was sponsored by the colour pink on Friday night.

At the beginning of the week, the Quarter One Target at work was hanging by a thread. By 3 o'clock on Friday I got the last completion and everyone got their bonus. Being the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle brings its own problems. Anyway, the cocktail was better than the wine, but the wine improved the more of it we drank. We then both fell asleep to Midsomer Murders.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Wine - Final Bottle (1), 26th March 2019

Tuesdays tend not to be a full bottle of wine night, but (unless one counts Friday) (or, indeed, Saturday and Sunday) it was the only night that we had in together this week. Both Claire and I had stressful Mondays and it seemed right to mark the better Tuesday with a bottle of blackcurrant and gooseberry, which was a very slurpable bottle of wine. We drank it to a venison sausage casserole - which was meaty, dark and delicious - and then watched an episode of Celebrity Bake Off. Maybe not the most memorable or interesting of evenings, but it was what we both needed.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Ginger Wine - Second Bottle (3), 24th March 2019

I had expected to drink vast quantities of this bottle as an anaesthetic after Music Club Orchestra on Saturday night. However, my need for numbness was rather less than expected and it was late, so I went to bed instead. Ginger wine was therefore the flavour of choice at a fabulous meal round at Richard and Linda's. Only Richard and I were drink and I had more than was seemly (or so my head told me on Monday morning). It is a good wine, though. The lemon is a hint of a flavour, tempering the ginger.

Richard was chief cook and we had all sorts of delicious things: sardine and mushroom pate, cheesy risotto, Mary Berry's coleslaw (generally I can take or leave coleslaw, but this was great) and apple tart.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Magnolia Petal Wine - The Making Of...

On Friday evening, 29th March, I posted a photo on Instagram of a magnolia tree in Horsforth Hall Park. [If you want to follow me on Instagram - my 'name' is @benswinemaking.] At this time of year (and I think particularly this year) magnolias are stunning. They are an attractively shaped tree anyway, with sparse branches at angles designed by architects, and their flowers are individual vases in delicate pink and cream. After posting my photo I received a comment from Lucy [@lajmmm] "Flowers are edible!". This, of course, made me wonder about turning them into wine.

I did a Google search, just to make sure that Lucy was not trying to poison me - she wasn't - and e-mailed Angie and Phil, who have a splendid magnolia tree in their front garden, to ask if I could collect their fallen petals.

Magnolia Petals on Angie and Phil's lawn
On Saturday morning I collected my first small bag of petals after biting into one - it had an odd but not unpleasant taste - took them home, put most of them into the freezer and made magnolia tea out of a couple. The tea had a subtle flavour, but again was not unpleasant. Therefore, I returned on Saturday afternoon, caught up with Angie and Phil's news and collected a larger bag - concentrating on the freshest, most recently dropped petals.

Back at home I followed my dandelion wine recipe entirely. I measured six pints of petals (those in the freezer turned brown on defrosting) and put them in our large pan with the thinly peeled peel of two lemons and an orange. I put in 2 lbs 12 oz of sugar and 7 pints or water, brought this to the boil (a long process) and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Meantime, I squeezed the lemons and orange and put the juice into my bucket with half a kilo of minced sultanas.

Me, looking pleased with my creation
When the magnolia mix had finished its 20 minutes simmer I poured all of it into the bucket. At this stage all the petals had gone brown and the wine looked unappetising (for which, read 'like vile dishwater'). I'm not certain about the smell either (though as the week has gone on, this became more floral with an element of spice, which makes me hopeful about the end result).

Vile dishwater, or something rather exotic?
I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient, pectolase and tannin on Sunday morning, 31st March. On Thursday evening I put the liquid into its demijohn, sieving out all the solids. One might expect Magnolia Petal Wine to be white with a hint of pink. I can report that it is a rather nasty brown. This, however, will be a temporary state of affairs and it will (honestly) clear to a golden yellow.

This will clear to a golden yellow