Greetings

This blog is a record of the wine that I make and drink. Each flavour made and each bottle drunk will appear here. You may come to the conclusion that, on the whole, I should be drinking less.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Ginger Wine - Third Bottle (2), 26th-27th August 2019

Bank Holiday Monday was a glorious day - it was fabulous weather and I spent much of it in the garden. Only some of that was spent drinking beer. Mostly I was reading a terrific book - The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It has been a long time since I have been quite so gripped by a novel. I must be careful not to gobble it up.

Ginger wine was chosen to go with a braised tofu curry and both were fabulous. Then, on Tuesday - rejoice - Bake Off came back, so one of our treats was to finish the Ginger Wine.


Saturday, 7 September 2019

Blackberry Wine 2019 - The Making Of...

Last year I learnt that sometimes Blackberry Wine is not exclusively to be made in September. I do not plan to make that mistake twice.


Fruit has generally been early to ripen this year, so Claire and I first visited York Victorian Cemetery to inspect blackberries on Sunday 11 August. Whilst it was clear that blackberry season had only just begun, the berries that were ready were the largest, most luscious blackberries that I have encountered. After only about half an hour's foraging we had more than 3 lbs between us.


The following Sunday we were in York again, making sure that Pop was alright in Mom's absence now Keith and Jaki had returned up north. He was fine and all three of us went to the cemetery to gather blackberries. This time we got nearly 7 lbs. For a triple batch I need 12 lbs of blackberries, so we went a third time on 25th August, making it a hat-trick of weekends in York - this time the excuse was to see Mom, freshly back from her 60th High School Reunion in Nebraska. It was a hot day and Pop and I went to the cemetery ourselves to finish the job. This was idyllic - the sun beat down and the place was full of birdsong. I had a lovely hour with my father, chatting about this and that, discussing blackberries and getting nettle-stung.

My father, picking blackberries
(I love this photo of him)
The graves I must mention are (as always) Thomas Douthwaite - though his patch is so overgrown you can no longer see his grave -; Margaret Ann, Corporal W and John Doughty Pratt; Dorothy and John William Dobson; George Carlill (a slater); and Walter & Annabel Chambers. Claire picked from Dorothy Akers, who was only 9 when she died, and possibly Fanny Taylor, the beloved wife of Alfred Watson (solicitor of this town).

On Monday morning, 26th August, I mashed the blackberries and added 8 lbs sugar and 16 pints of boiling water. This cooled over the (hot and humid) day and I added a teaspoon each of yeast and pectolase, and two teaspoons of nutrient that evening. By Saturday night, 31st August, the liquid was ready for the demijohns. This went without a hitch and I now have three demijohns full of potentially delicious blackberry wine.


Monday, 2 September 2019

Rhubarb Wine - Fourth Bottle (C3), 23rd-25th August 2019

Claire is on new medication which may or may not assist her nasal problems. One of the side effects is that it causes slight dizziness. With this in mind, a glass of rhubarb wine on Friday night was an experiment for her. About half an hour later she went to bed and slept deeply. We repeated the experiment on Sunday night, this time drinking rhubarb wine in the garden after the light had gone, listening to the throb of the West Indian Carnival travelling north from Chapeltown. This time the rhubarb wine did not act quite so much as a sleeping draught, thought Claire did not rise from bed until near 10 on Monday morning. So maybe it did.


Saturday, 31 August 2019

Rhubarb, Mint & Elderflower Wine - Second Bottle (2), 24th August 2019

I took this bottle over to Angie & Phil's for a Bentcliffe Dinner Party. Summer has returned and it was warm enough to spend the entire evening in the garden. Angie cooked a Mexican meal, Liz brought a bottle of her elderflower champagne (superb) and a wonderful time was had by all. I barely noticed this bottle of wine - the conversation was flowing at such a rate that it was empty before I could ask what everyone thought.

We finished the evening looking up at the stars and half-naming constellations. A magical night.

The table set, and Liz's elderflower champagne

Friday, 30 August 2019

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (C2), 15th-16th August 2019

Claire is not particularly well at the moment. Her sinuses are giving her real problems. Being the loving husband that I am, I opened a bottle of blackberry wine to make things better. This is a fabulous vintage, and who wouldn't feel well again after a restorative glass? I also cooked on both nights - risotto on the first and egg & (posh) chips on the second, which may be have been of more practical benefit.


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Rose Petal Wine - First Bottle (B4), 11th-12th August 2019

This is not a good vintage of rose petal wine. It has a bitterness to it that is difficult to ignore. Whilst Drinkable, it is many stops away from Delicious and has only a nodding acquaintance with Nice. 2019 marks a year off making rose petal wine and on the strength of this bottle, that is the correct decision.



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

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - The Making Of...

Our garden has been abundant with soft fruit this year. We have had strawberries, redcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries and (most relevant to this post) blackcurrants. There are blueberries ripening and a tree laden with plums. Even our damson tree has fruited this year.

Our damsons - which isn't strictly relevant to this post
The blackcurrants have required careful picking - starting in mid-July and going all the way to early August. In the middle of this, of course, was Rydal week and that meant some fruit was spoiled. But I can't help the season. Picking blackcurrants is always fiddly: the individual berries each reach peak-ripeness at different stages, plumping up to be round and soft and juicy. You cannot grasp handfuls but instead must pluck single currants. It was rare that I would get more than half a pound in any single picking session. The most unpleasant occasion of gathering fruit was immediately before we left for Rydal, when the rain was incessant and I was quickly drenched.


From the near-month of picking, I got just over 5½ lbs of blackcurrants. Whilst a single batch recipe calls for 3 lbs, I decided that this was enough for a double batch. On Saturday morning, 10th August, I took the fruit from the freezer and let it defrost in a large bowl. In the evening I poured these into my small bucket and mashed them while boiling 12½ pints of water with 5½ lbs sugar dissolved. Actually, I lost count with the water because I was being distracted by John Finnemore on Radio 4 and couldn't remember if I had put 2 pints extra into the pan. (I hadn't, as it turns out.)


When I poured the boiling water into my bucket, it became apparent that my small bucket is only good for single batches. I transferred everything into the large bucket, cursing the extra washing that I had created.

I put a teaspoon of yeast, nutrient and pectolase in on Sunday morning, then transferred the wine into its two demijohns on Thursday 15th August. It is a deep, dark red-purple colour and bubbling away merrily.