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.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Redcurrant Wine - Bottle B4, 24th-26th February 2012

The remedy for dealing with musty wines, based on the experience of this and the previous bottle of redcurrant, seems to be to leave them in their bottles longer. Whilst I would be lying if I said this had no taste of mothballed fur coats whatsoever, it was not a prominent flavour and the wine rated as 'nearly acceptable'.

I drank much of it on Friday night when Claire was out playing chamber music. I tried watching a film called 'Severance', billed as a 'comedy horror', but had to switch it off after half an hour. My 20-year old self would have enjoyed it, but I have become soft. The prospect of seeing seven people meet a gruesome end was not appealing. And the 'comedy' element was unsubtle and infrequent. This was no 'Shaun of the Dead'.

Instead, I watched an inconsequential yet amusing gameshow ('Pointless' - well named) and then entertained myself by watching reviews of Doctor Who on

The bottle was finished tonight after our return from a weekend in York and a day of mostly eating sausages.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Blackberry Wine - Bottle B2, 25th February 2012

I have discovered that my father still has the capacity to embarrass me. This is something that I thought had ended with my teenage years. For reasons that must remain obscure, he said, loudly and clearly "Mostly Fellatio" whilst we were sitting in Yorkshire Sculpture Park's café, next to a family with many children. I covered my face with my hands. Anyone would need a bottle of wine after that.

We spent the rest of the day in York. Quin goes back to Nebraska in less than three weeks and I think this is my last opportunity to see him before his return. The evening's activities consisted of alternately having intense conversations and looking at lists of 'Top 100' (or 'Top 200') books. I came away feeling rather less well-read than I had earlier in the day.

The wine, of course, was superb - better than the red wine we had drunk earlier in the evening.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Crab Apple Wine - Bottle A3, 19th February 2012

For reasons that seemed logical at the time, Claire declared that British Summer Time had begun today. Consequently this bottle was opened at what otherwise would have been a quarter past five. I had half a glass and Claire had a whole one. It was all because we ate ridiculously early in preparation for Bradford Music Club - which began at 7 p.m. Madeleine, David and I played the Beethoven Trio again. This time I did not get lost, but I came away disappointed. There was nothing specifically wrong with the performance, but it felt leaden. I missed my very first note, which musically did not matter but it altered my whole attitude. Immediately my mouth dried and I spent the entire time just playing notes trying to get to the end, without concentrating on the music. So, a frustrating experience. And it required a decent quantity of crab apple wine in a short space of time to make things better. Hey ho.

Oh, entirely unrelated to this wine, and because I am a show off ("No, really?" I hear you cry), click this link here for a lovely review of my book. I understand it is available on Amazon.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Strawberry Wine - Bottle 6, 18th February 2012

It was a choice between Strawberry and Crab Apple wine to take to Richard & Linda's for a meal. Because it has bee Richard's birthday this week and as strawberry wine is the better of the two, it seemed proper to take this. Richard said he felt honoured and, indeed, he was. It is an excellent flavour and I think this vintage is one of the best I have made (he said, modestly).

The meal, as ever, was fabulous. We had a tomato soup with carraway-seed buns to start, a pasta dish involving mozarella and baby broad beans as the main course - accompanied by a colourful salad of spinach, parmesan shavings, carrots, mushrooms and radishes, and finished with a mandarin orange tart with custard and creme fraiche. Richard was apologetic that he had made the custard from powder rather than first principles, but Claire pointed out that when she made it with eggs it tasted no different.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Sloe Wine - Bottle 3, 17th February 2012

One bottle of sloe wine between two on a Friday night equals a slight fuzziness to the evening. Though perhaps not my most delicious wine ever, it is a lovely dark pink colour, and there is nothing actively wrong with the taste.

Now (as of yesterday) that I have been accepted as a student of ACCA (which stands for something like 'Association of Chartered Certified Accountants') I have been reading about the frightening array of exams that I must sit. And there I was, thinking that my 2009 Latin exam was to be my last ever. I did an on-line maths test and did not quite get 90%, which was disappointing. Nevermind.

It has, however, been a proper Friday night - eating leftovers and a jam roly-poly with custard. And now I have a date with a Doctor Who DVD. What could be better?

Thursday 16 February 2012

Elderflower Wine - Bottle A4, 12th-15th February 2012

It was debatable whether we were going to have any alcohol on Sunday - though it was quite a short debate. We spent the weekend in Leicester with Rachael, which involved lots of red wine on Saturday night as we moved between drinking establishments through the perishing cold. It was a wonderful evening, but resulted in a 36 hour headache for Claire and a feeling of jadedness for me. Still, a couple of glasses of elderflower wine to a pasta bake helped things along.

We finished the bottle tonight after a WYSO rehearsal. Our concert is in less than a month, is child-friendly and animal themed. We are playing an arrangement of 'Old MacDonald' (my cow impressions on the bassoon are a highlight), Carnival of the Animals, and 'Peter & the Wolf'. I make a particularly bad-tempered Grandfather. Tonight the narrator came and he has the best sort of Yorkshire accent.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Jobs I have been doing since the beginning of 2012

Racking the Crab Apple & Soft Fruit. I racked the Crab Apple & Strawberry on 1st January 2012. This had a large deposit and needed the whole of a pint of water plus six ounces of sugar put in following racking. It produced a worrying smell of vinegar. Crab Apple & Blackcurrant, racked on 5th January, also had a large deposit, much of which ended up in the racked demijohn by mistake. I struggle to see liquid levels through brown glass. Again, I added a pint of water & six ounces of sugar.

Racking the Quince. I did this on 19th January. Its clarity is somewhat less than ideal. I put in another teaspoon of pectolase in the no-doubt vain hope of rectifying this. There was only a small deposit, and the taste was unpalatably dry. I managed to dissolve six ounces of sugar in three-quarters of a pint of water and fit this all in. My hopes for this wine are currently low.

Racking the Christmas Tutti Fruti. I racked this on 10th February. The sludge filled one third of each demijohn. This is a heavier deposit than I remember from any wine - though flicking through the pages of my diary may prove me wrong. However, the taste I got from each was thick. Too much like a fruit smoothy. Therefore, I do not despair that I had to put two and a half pints of water and six ounces of sugar into both demijohns. I probably picked up more sediment than none. Oh well.

Bottling the Gooseberry. I bottled the Gooseberry on 29th January. It isn't as sweet as I had feared on racking. This is a successful gooseberry; clear, unmusty, light. Definitely a summer drink. My only criticism is that it is not as good as the Gooseberry & Elderflower.

Bottling the Gooseberry & Elderflower. This happened on 29th January and was a revelation. It is fabulous. The elderflower adds perfume, the gooseberries sharpness and the sultanas depth. In an uncharacteristic show of being a Good Husband, I allowed Claire to drink the majority of the bottling glass whilst I made do with the unadorned Gooseberry (which, itself, was definitely drinkable). Now the quandary is whether I ever do pure gooseberry again.

Bottling the Redcurrant. I bottled the redcurrant on 5th February, and it is a little disappointing, mainly down to its thinness. There is nothing actively wrong with it (I hope the hint of mustiness was my imagination) but it is bland. Possibly it will mature into something more substantial, but I have my doubts. Still, it is a pretty colour, and Claire has suggested blending it with another wine, though I have yet to work out which one.

Bottling the Rose Petal. I did this on 14th February. On my walk to work this morning, I had the brilliant idea of celebrating Valentine's Day - the day most associated with roses - by bottling my Rose Petal wine. It has cleared (mostly) and is a lovely pink colour. The taste, if I am honest, is very slightly disappointing. There is a strong rose element to the mid flavour, but the whole is not as interesting as I had hoped.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Elderberry wine - Bottle C4, 9th-10th February 2012

I really should give elderberry longer to mature. This bottle tasted young with a suggestion of metal. But it was what I fancied on a Thursday night. Claire had an unexpected evening in; her string quartet was cancelled because of icy roads, so the incentive to open a bottle was greater.

We finished it this evening to a meal of celery soup (I overdid the buying of celery for this month's experimental wine), olive bread and Yorkshire Blue cheese, all of which were satisfying. Half a bottle between two on a Friday night is really Not Enough, so I have supplemented it with a gin & tonic and small (though Claire would argue 'large') glass of port.

Friday 10 February 2012

Celery Wine - The Making Of ...

I may live to regret this wine. The phrase 'Celery Wine' does not summon up images of a lip-smacking paradise. However, last summer I was rung by a wine-making enthusiast who assured me that this was a successful flavour. And February is a month to experiment - it is a single batch month where nothing is in season. Perhaps, though, I should have repeated Exotic Tinned Fruit. Time will tell.

Today, 5th February, has been lovely. I did not get dressed until noon, which is always the sign of a good Sunday. Whilst I was lounging around, Claire - suffering from a hearty cough - was outside shovelling snow off our street. But she claims that she enjoyed it.

We spent the afternoon in York, eating Big Breakfast and seeing Bridget, who is spending the weekend in Terrington. Last time we saw her she was eight months pregnant. This time she is again eight months pregnant - but had Gemma in tow. Gemma is at 'delightful toddler' stage and is a mini-Bridget: red hair, blue eyes, mischevious looking.

Anyway, back at home I chopped up four pounds of celery and boiled it for thirty minutes in seven and a half pints of water. This was poured over three pounds of sugar and one tablespoon of citric acid. It is now a pale green liquid smelling of soup.

Four pounds of celery in 7.5 pints of water
I put in the yeast and a teaspoon of nutrient on Monday morning. I have not bothered to put in any pectolase as I do not thing celery is a rich source of pectin.

During the five days it has been in its bucket I have stirred the wine twice a day and each time have been surprised and pleased at the fragrance this produces. I put the wine in its demijohn on Friday night, 10th February, whilst listening to 'Any Questions' on Radio 4. This involved Anne Widdecombe and lots of shouting. It is a noisy, irritating programme. The volume of liquid I used was perfect and though the wine still looks like a nourishing broth, I am rather more hopeful about it than I was originally.

If you want my first impressions of how it tastes, click here.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Citrus Wine - Bottle A2, 5th-7th February 2012

Unusually for a Sunday night, Claire and I each only had a glass of wine. That, of course, does not include the additional glass of redcurrant I snaffled whilst bottling that flavour. But even if that glass is included, it was still an atypical weekend evening. Maybe this was because our evening meal was a (large) slice of rhubarb pie - having been thoroughly stuffed with protein in the afternoon at York.

Tonight saw off the bottle; I was more than ready for a glass after cooking a lentil curry. I had reached the cross, hungry and hassled stage I often experience when preparing food - even though this is one of my regular dishes. Eating and drinking fettled that, particularly as the curry was hot and the wine was sharp. Citrus wine is a fine flavour and I will not hear a word against it.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Tea Wine - Bottle 5, 4th February 2012

Tea wine was my reward for a nerve-wracking evening. Leeds, along with most of the rest of England, had had its first snow of the season. This coincided with Music Club where I was both playing in the orchestra and performing a Beethoven trio. Ordinarily, when there is even a suggestion of snow, Music Club is cancelled. This time, whilst the snow was falling at its heaviest, I found myself driving slowly and precariously (with the occasional wobble) to Lawnswood. There, the attendance was low but we played and it was mostly alright. However, I got lost in the trio's third movement and had to wait impotently until we reached a bit I recognised. All very frustrating.

Half a bottle of wine once I had battled my way home was welcome. And the wine is Not Bad - certainly better than my last attempt at this flavour. It is on the foothills of Good.