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 31 December 2011

Crab Apple - Bottle B6, 29th December 2011

I brought this bottle with me to Heworth Green. Though we were here on Christmas Eve, I was both ill and driving, so had no alcohol whatsoever. I more than made up for that last night! To the extent that it now (around noon on the 30th) is a bit of a blur.

Whilst Pop enjoyed the crab apple he has just commented that there was a bitter aftertaste. Crab apple is definitely best drunk young, and this is showing its age.

We were fed royally by Mom, with a maple parsnip soup and slices of beef rolled with sausage meat. I think a few weeks of eating plain food is in order

Friday 30 December 2011

Blackberry - Bottle C3, 23rd-27th December 2011

This bottle spanned Christmas. Our reason was not one of abstemiousness but one of absence. It was opened on a Friday, a night about which I now remember very little. I think a jigsaw puzzle may have been involved. Then on Christmas Eve we were in York seeing my parents, Chris and Rachael - which was a marvelous evening hampered only by feeling washed out with a heavy cold. We spent Christmas in Newcastle and left this bottle back in Leeds, waiting for our return. The bottle was finished as we waited for the Doctor Who Christmas Special to load onto the computer, but Claire pleaded exhaustion and went to bed. So, not a memorable bottle of wine, despite blackberry being my favourite.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Bottle A1, 25th December 2011

This bottle was served with the full turkey works round a festive table decorated with candles and crackers. My critical facilities had diminished over the course of the evening, so I cannot remember the subtleties of this wine. I was more interested in the food, and this was fabulous. Everything that should be on a Christmas table was, and more besides. Turkey, chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce, forced meat balls, roast spuds, turnip mash, mushy peas, small sausages - some of which being wrapped up in bacon, red cabbage and sprouts (which were as bitter and unpleasant as tradition dictates). Then, just in case we had not eaten enough, Judith brought out the steamed Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Bottle A4, 25th December 2011

We did not, quite, manage to drink this bottle to Christmas dinner. The potatoes were not browning and the turnip was taking longer than anticipated. Everyone's glasses were empty and Sam had arrived. The only solution, therefore, was to open this bottle.

It is a good wine, but, for the first time since I started this tradition of comparing the old and new Tutti Frutis, the younger wine was better. This batch is drier and had more fizz to it, but it is blander and somehow not as satisfying. It was no hardship, though, to finish the bottle whilst catching up with Sam (who was disappointed I had not brought any elderberry) and trying not to think about being really very hungry indeed.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Bottle B6, 25th December 2011

With the presents having been opened and two glasses of sherry consumed, Claire wondered whether it was time to open a bottle. It being a respectable time in that boundary between late afternoon and early evening, I sought out the first bottle of 2010's vintage.

We are spending Christmas at 3, The Alders and I poured a glass first for the kitchen crew, Judith and Andrew, who were busy struggling with root vegetables. The rest of the bottle was shared around those of us lounging around reading our Christmas books.

This Tutti Fruit is marvelous - possibly the best that I have ever made. It is light and fruity with more blackcurrant taste than it is due, considering only one ounce of blackcurrants were used in its making. Everyone eagerly anticipated the second bottle and it will be an effort to space the bottles out so that we drink the last one on Christmas Day 2012.

Monday 26 December 2011

Christmas Tutti Fruti - The Making Of ...

As last year, we are away at Christmas, so I started this wine on 18th December. In place of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Claire stuck on a CD of Christmas Carols from around the world. Unsurprisingly, the majority were European.

As is tradition, I cleared the freezer of its fruit, leaving 8 oz sloes for gin next year and handful of blackberries for crumble. We may now be able to have the luxury of icecubes.

This year there is a greater variety of fruit than previous years, though - alas - no elderberries. I have 1 lb 13½ oz blackberries, 1 lb 10½ oz sloes, 1 lb 2 oz green gooseberries, 12 oz rhubarb, 10 oz grapes from my mother's garden, 9¾ oz blackcurrants, 9¼ oz strawberries, 8 oz red gooseberries, 2 oz cranberries, 1½ oz crab apples and one satsuma. To my calculations, that equals 7 lbs 14½ oz fruit plus one satsuma, which is about right for a double batch. It is currently sitting in its bucket defrosting and I shall mash it all up and add the sugar and water tomorrow.
The fruit before mashing
It is now 'tomorrow', Monday, and the day has not gone as planned. In the night a minor sore throat deteriorated into fever and shivering, and I have spent much of the day in bed. At least today was not a working day. As Brooke North closes at the end of this week I cannot afford to be ill. There is too much to do before our computers get taken on Thursday. What I have managed to do today, though, has been to mash the fruit (making my Christmas wish whilst doing so), add 6 lbs of sugar and pour over 12 pints of boiling water. When the first six pints went in there was a wonderful smell of summer and autumn fruits.

The yeast and one teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase went in on Tuesday morning. I then waited until Saturday, Christmas Eve, before putting the wine into its demijohns. I timed this so it coincided with the Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College Cambridge. This has not succeeded in putting me into good Christmas cheer. I am too snotty for that, and I spent most the time feeling desperately hungry - which was remedied afterwards by a cheese sandwich. I could have done with a pint more water in the recipe, as this would have allowed me to discared rather more sludge than I have done.
Two (underexposed) demijohns of Tutti Fruti

Friday 23 December 2011

Raspberry Wine - Bottle 6, 22nd-23rd December 2011

Finishing work for the Christmas holidays is always a happy occasion, no matter how good the job. This year, though, there is a sadness and emptiness attached. Brooke North has now closed. A firm whose origins go back to 1833, and which I joined 164 years later, is no more. Even though I step into a new, exciting job in January, I wish this had not happened.

We opened the raspberry wine in fondness for things past and raised our glasses to Brooke North. And then we ate bean burgers with salted lemon cous-cous and a tomato sauce flavoured with cumin and garlic.

I finished the last glass shockingly early today (about 4 p.m.) whilst starting the Christmas jigsaw.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Elderberry - Bottle B1, 18th-21st December 2011

When I started drinking this bottle on Sunday, I noticed a slight sore throat. Nothing to worry about, and certainly nothing to interfere with the lamb (actually, mutton) teginne and sour-dough pitta-bread meal that Claire had been intermittently preparing all weekend. As I had earlier bottled the Spiced Beetroot wine, leaving a generous helping for us, we did not finish the bottle and left it as a tasty snifter for the coming days. That night, though, I woke with the feeling someone was sawing into my larynx. And then the shivering began.

So, the week before Christmas has been mostly alcohol-free. Claire had one of the two remaining glasses on Tuesday whilst I was feeling sorry for myself in bed. I finished the bottle on Wednesday, again whilst feeling sorry for myself in bed. Though it helped me sleep between 7-10 p.m., I then lay awake most the night.

Being ill sucks.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Orange - Bottle A2, 17th December 2011

Christmas is fast approaching. I finally got round to writing some cards today and tonight's activity has been making gingerbread men (and reindeers, and spiders, and stegasauri) whilst listening to Christmas carols by Benjamin Britten and Peter Warlock. So, despite everything, I am inching my was towards seasonal cheer.

We drank this orange wine, the last of 2010's vintage, to home made ravioli stuffed with minced pecans, Cheshire cheese, garlic, parmesan, thyme and pepper served in a leek, mushroom and cream sauce. It was absolutely delicious. I bought Claire the pasta maker as a Christmas present the same year that she bought me the wine making kit. Of the two, the pasta machine has been the less used, but on the whole the wine is more fun. Mind you, 'Claire's Adventures in Pasta Making' could be what the world needs.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Sloe Wine - Bottle 4, 11th-12th December 2011

Sunday was the sort of day made for staying inside. The light never rose beyond 'dim' and the weather was dank and wet. We did venture outside, but with great reluctance. This was to do our pre-Christmas supermarket shop, and we timed is sufficiently before Christmas for it not to be hell on earth. It was still pretty bad, though, and when we got home there was the ceremonial locking of the door.

Claire was not enthusiastic about me opening a bottle of sloe to go with our meal of Actively Delicious stir-fried pork and noodles. She admitted, however, that it was better than she had remembered. We saved a good proportion for Monday, mostly because of the large whisky macs consumed earlier in the evening.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Gooseberry - Bottle B1, 8th-9th December 2011

The Ambridge Job Fairy exists in real life and has paid me a visit. Not just a quiet visit with a brief nod of the head, but a raucous visit with a cheery 'Hello' and an armful of presents. Darren has taken me on as his in-house lawyer with bells on. He wants me to train as an accountant too, so that I can throw myself into the financial side of his company. And I am to learn about every aspect of house building so that I understand the business. It is exciting and out of my comfort zone, which has to be a Good Thing.

The gooseberry wine was opened in celebration and it is only a little disappointing, given the circumstances, that it has acquired the redcurrant dead mouse taste.

Friday 9 December 2011

Rhubarb - Bottle A2 (?), 7th December 2011

Wednesday night is ordinarily WYSO night. This week it was the WYSO social instead, in celebration of Saturday's concert. Jude invited the orchestra round to her house, and a good proportion from most sections turned up. I had spent the day feeling glum, worrying about the whole job thing, and a party turned out to be the tonic I needed. I took a bottle of Rhubarb wine with me and, as usual, made sure everyone in the room had a taste. Most did a good act of appearing enthusiastic. John particularly so. His adjective of choice was "stonking". My glumness vanished.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Elderflower - Bottle A3, 25th November 2011

Well, 2011 has been a massively strange year. It has been one of extreme highs and lows, and today has been one of the latter. Brooke North, the firm that I joined in 1997, and rejoined in May this year, is closing. Once again I am redundant and my future is uncertain. I made the wrong choice in April. I should have chosen Jarndyce & Snagsby. At time of writing I am feeling surprisingly calm about it all - maybe this is down to the elderflower wine (which is fabulous) and the two enormous whisky macs from earlier in the evening. Or perhaps it is because I have recognised that worrying is a choice. And just at this minute I choose not to.

[NB - This is a delayed posting - and there has been plenty of worrying since!]

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Blackberry - Bottle B4, 3rd December 2011

We have just played in the WYSO December concert, which American themed: Charles Ives, Aaron Copland and Anton Dvorak. Admittedly, that last composer is Czech, but he did write 'The New World Symphony' which is what is currently bouncing around in my head. It was an excellent concert and I suspect I shall sleep badly tonight because of it.

On our return Claire wanted a glass of something and rejected my first suggestion of sloe. My parents came back with us and blackberry proved a more popular choice. I spent the time they were here signing copies of my book. Mom has bought far more than she ought. If I make the best seller lists it will be entirely down to her efforts.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Bottle B1, 2nd December 2011

A Friday night bottle is always welcome, and this was more welcome than most. It has been an extraordinarily difficult week. [...] Therefore, coming home and drinking most of this bottle quicker than decorum dictates seemed sensible. Much of the drinking time was spent in the kitchen talking over the week with Claire, who is very good at times of crisis - level headed, reassuring and calm. That she is a fabulous cook is an added bonus.

Friday 2 December 2011

Crab Apple - Bottle C2, 29th November - 1st December 2011

I had planned a week of temperance after Saturday's excesses but took little persuasion to open a bottle on Tuesday. That night's glass was drunk whilst watching episode 4 of the second season of 'The Killing'; a Danish crime thriller. This is not as good as the original series - which examined a family's loss in minute detail after their daughter's murder, but was still an excellent whodunnit. The second series, whilst entertaining and exciting, is straightforward crime fiction.

[The rest of this entry cannot be reproduced here. Maybe in a month or two. Things need to be more settled. I will explain when I can.]

Thursday 1 December 2011

Redcurrant - Bottle B3, 26th November 2011

I barely remember this bottle. It is now five days since we drank it, and I think that is the longest I have left a bottle unrecorded. There are two good reasons that my memories are hazy. Firstly, it was the third bottle of the evening. Both Claire and Andrew were most insistent that we needed another - they are a mutual bad influence. I had my doubts, but decided that nasty redcurrant could be sacrificed to an alcoholic Saturday night. Secondly, I only had a glass of this - and some of that ended up down the sink. This really is not a good wine.