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.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Dandelion Wine - Bottle 5, 23rd April 2012

Tired and drunk. I am struggling to keep my eyes open, yet it is only twenty past ten.

This first bottle of Dandelion wine has had mixed reviews. The assembled company agree, on the whole, that it is drinkable, and that it improves the longer one drinks it. The wine has a herby taste and I think it is one of my more successful attempts at this flavour, though I suspect that it will remain a mid-week bottle.

Dandelion wine was our reward for an eleven mile walk round the most pituresque parts of the Peak District. Lots of limestone outcroppings but equally lots of rain. We have chosen a wet week to be on holiday, but at least have a cottage rather than a tent.

And now I must sleep. Goodnight.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Gooseberry & Elderflower - Bottle 2, 22nd April 2012

Claire convinced me to open this bottle two months earlier than I would otherwise have done. We are staying in a cottage in the Peak District for a week, and this is one of the half dozen bottles that I have brought. It was to be an example of one of my best, and so it has proved. I thought elderflower dominated, but Claire disagreed - thinking gooseberry was just as prominent. Nick pointed out it had a subtle nutty flavour. Everyone liked it, and it was a suitable reward for a twelve mile walk, some of it in relentless rain, that took in forests, rivers, valley gorges and an ancient stone circle. By the end of the the walk our pace increased from 'dawdling' to 'determined' in our desire to reach the wherewithal for a cup of tea.

Friday 27 April 2012

Blackberry Wine - Bottle A5, 21st April 2012

Drunk in Spout Cottage, Derbyshire.

We are on holiday and spending a week in the Peak District with Rachel, Duncan, Nick and Nick's cousin Ann. I have brought six bottles of home brew with me, and this was the first - to accompany lamb koftas, rice and spinach. It was, however, not the only bottle of wine consumed and I am struggling to keep this diary in focus.

Shortly after arriving at the cottage (which was an adventure in itself - the narrow winding road approaching it went on beyond the "are you sure this is right?" point) the next door owner came over. I commented after he had gone "He sounds remarkably like Matthew Parris" and discovered he was. Which, as a meeting someone famous story, isn't all that impressive.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Bottle A6, 19th-20th April 2012

I opened this bottle on Thursday night to celebrate being on holiday, rather than finish the indifferent redcurrant wine hanging around in the fridge. In fact, only Claire was on holiday Thursday night, but now we both are and eagerly anticipating a week in the Peak District. Never mind that the forecast is for continual heavy rain.

The wine was as delicious as ever, going well with Thursday night's bangers and mash and overly-butch cabbage, and finished on Friday before tucking into a goats' cheese, basil and caper pizza on a sour-dough base. We do eat well (he said, smugly).

Redcurrant Wine - Bottle A3, 17th-20th April 2012

Redcurrant has the appearance of wine for special occasions. It is dark pink with a more interesting hue than a shop bought rosé. Taste-wise, however, it falls squarely within the 'mid-week' category. And this was the fate of this bottle - opened on a Tuesday and strung out until Friday.

Wednesday's glass was drunk following WYSO, where we have bitten off rather more than we can chew. There are to be two concerts this term with different programmes and both difficult. The first is on 4 June as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Hence, on Wednesday I came home humming the gallop from The William Tell Overture. I can sing it far quicker than I can play it, which is depressing. Trying to tongue two semiquavers, quaver, two semiquavers, quaver repeatedly is exhausting and, at that speed, close to impossible.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Blogging - One Year On

This blog entry is more than a little self-referential, for which I apologise. However, I am about to disappear for a whole week without any new entries at all (though I think there will be two bottles posted before I do - the Redcurrant is currently in the fridge chilling). And my disappearance will coincide with having been keeping this blog for a year. 22nd April 2012 will be my blogaversary (sorry). In that time I have:

Posted 182 posts (if you don't count this), of which:
20 have been 'how to make wine'
2 have been 'random jobs involving wine'
3 (I think) have been nothing to do with drinking or making wine, which means ...
157 have been bottles of wine that I have drunk. Oh dear; but they have all been shared.

Had 8,540 hits counted by Blogger, of which:
283 were on 'Rose Petal Wine - the Making Of ...'
213 were on 'Quince Wine - the Making Of ...'
many, many were spam hits from Russia with website names like or
an inconsequential few were me

28 Listed Followers, but:
there are 3 regular people whose ISP is in Leeds and I haven't identified who they are
there is a semi-regular follower whose ISP is in Ile-de-France, Paris
there is someone just listed as being in 'Europe' whose ISP is Oracle Svenska ab
I have one visit from 'Home Land Security' in Springfield Illinois (but have yet to receive my extradition papers)
there are several people who check in regularly who I correspond with from time to time

You all know who you are (even if I don't), and I am delighted that you take the time to visit. Thank you to the regulars and the one-offs for showing an interest in my hobby and (rather ordinary) life. This blog is dedicated to all of you.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Crab Apple Wine - Bottle B4, 14th April 2012

I am of the opinion that this year's crab apple wine is too sweet. It is a pudding wine, which is not good when you have 18 (now 17) bottles of it. The apple flavour is pronounced, which is a bonus, and the sharpness offsets its sugar, but on the whole I think I preferred the 2010 vintage. I shall try to remember this for October, when I make it again.

Today's notable activity was a trip to the cinema. I have not been for two years, and the last movie Claire saw was 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' in Salt Lake City in (I think) 2005. We went to see 'Pirates - In an Adventure with Scientists', and very silly it was too. Perfect Saturday afternoon viewing, with a villanous Queen Victoria and glorious anachronisms aplenty.

Friday 13 April 2012

Hawthorn Blossom Wine - Bottle 1, 11th April 2012

Today we celebrate Cornelia Gruntfuttock's birthday. Cornelia is Claire's alter-ego on Facebook, and her chosen birthday is 11th April. This is as good a reason as any to have a whole bottle of wine on a work-night. Actually, Claire has taken this week as holiday, so only I have to trundle into work tomorrow.

We drank most of the bottle enjoying each other's company on a rare night in together, eating aubergines stuffed with bulghar wheat, feta and pistachios, and discussing last night's performance of Love's Labour's Lost at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (which was truly excellent). I then ruined the bonhomie by racking my celery wine and presenting Claire with a first sip. She thinks it my Worst Ever, which makes this Hawthorn - which she described earlier as 'Drinkable cleaning fluid' - stunningly good in comparison.

In fact, the Hawthorn is okay. Floral and herby. But this last bottle will probably be the last ever.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Exotic Tinned Fruit Wine - the Making of ...

The long Easter weekend always feels self-indulgent. It is four solid days of Sunday, where pottering about is as active as it gets. Today, 7th April, I have been out of the house once - to get the Guardian, and that mostly for the Araucaria crossword. Other than that I have been making soup and wine, and listening to the Classic FM 'Top 300 Pieces of Classical Music' countdown. Though I had to turn it off once it reached Walton's Crown Imperial, which must be the most dreadful piece of music ever written.

I decided that I would have another go at Exotic Tinned Fruit wine this month, and make it a double batch. I am a little worried, however, that I do not have quite enough fruit. There are 14 oz mangoes, 9 oz lychees, 8 oz guavas, and 8 oz combined Jack Fruit and Toddy Palm combined (neither of which I have ever even heard of) together with two pints of syrup. Actually that sounds really low on fruit. Too late now.
The tins of fruit with Claire in the background
I had to look up 'Jack Fruit' on Wikipedia, and other than seeing that it exists and is a large, starchy fruit, I am not really any the wiser. I had a small tast of both it and the Toddy Palm (which Claire pointed out looked worryingly like squid rings) and both were pleasant, tasting of generic exotic fruit.
Spot the Squid Rings
All - fruit and syrup - went into the bucket, I mashed it and then added 12 pints of boiling water and 4 1/2 pounds of sugar. This is less than I would usually add for a double batch, but each fruit came in its own syrup and the initial gravity reading of 1.090 is about right. I put in the yeast plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of nutrient, 1 teaspoon of pectolase and 1/2 teaspoon of amylase on Sunday morning after about ninety minutes of washing up. Ninety! Count them. (We had a splendid meal last night and Claire is busily making pork pies as I write.)

I put all this into its two demijohns on 11th April. It is all a fabulous colour on the borderline between yellow and orange. I suspect there will be a large deposit. The amount of water was not quite right - another pint and a half would have been perfect, but I shall fill it up next time I do any wine making stuff.

Monday 9 April 2012

Elderberry Wine - Bottle A5, 9th April 2012

It has been an odd sort of day, but I find that Bank Holiday Mondays often are. To be somewhat pretentious, they are liminal days. Not a weekend, nor a holiday. A day for moping around the house and ennui. I spent some of it in the garden, helping move a cotoneaster from the old raised bed in the back to the wall at the front. Mostly this involved digging and general shifting of earth at Claire's direction, which, in truth, is my favourite gardening task. Otherwise I have spent the day on the computer or reading.

We drank the elderberry wine with our evening meal, which started with home-made pork pies and potato salad, left over from yesterday's lunch. Next it was eggs baked in spinach, yoghurt and parmesan with buttered toast made from stout-bread, which was delicious. This was all followed by, I think, my favourite David Tennant Doctor Who episode - The Family of Blood - during which I finished my wine, and I am now on the Bush Tea. I am currently debating whether to dive into the rhubarb fool. Maybe I should consult Claire.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Citrus Wine - Bottle B5, 6th April 2012

I could not let Good Friday pass without a bottle of wine, and this year it was Citrus. I chose the bottle to go with a Vietnamese chicken salad (courtesy of Nigella) and a lemon meringue pie (courtesy of the Hairy Bikers), and it went well with both. The sharp citrus flavour contrasted with the first and matched the second, and both food and wine were tasty. However, Sooz, who arrived today for the Easter weekend and who has mostly given up booze for Lent, described the wine as "Not my favourite".

I have spent much of the day tidying in anticipation of Sooz's arrival. The house has been knee-deep in deritus for weeks and it has taken some cleaning.

Friday 6 April 2012

Orange Wine - Bottle A1, 3rd-5th April 2012

This batch of orange wine is sweeter than usual, and I cannot decide whether that is a good or a bad thing. On the whole, I like my wines dry, but the additional sugar reduces the orange peel bitterness which is sometimes a problem with this flavour. I suspect I shall be having this internal debate for the remaining ten bottles. Most of these, like this one, will be a mid-week bottle rationed over the evenings. Claire benefitted from this process: she had the last glass whilst I was at a WYSO committee meeting on Thursday, so I had some whisky instead. But the WYSO programme for next year sounds good - with individual concerts dedicated to the Classical era, to Bohemian Romanticism and to English music. Lots to get our teeth stuck into - like the biscuits Jude provided at the meeting. I had four.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Blackberry Wine - Bottle A2, 1st April 2012

Having drunk far, far too much on Friday and only far too much on Saturday, I wondered whether Sunday night should be one of sobriety. My arm took some twisting, I can tell you. Claire piled on the pressure by asking "What bottle should I open?"

Blackberry it was and we drank it to French Onion soup - which is one of the reasons I asked Claire to marry me all those years ago. She won't divulge the recipe in case it renders her redundant.

The wine was as good as ever and the evening pleasantly dull. We each had a bath and I renewed my acquaintance with the computer. Being out of e-mail or Facebook contact for 48 hours makes me depressingly twitchy.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Crab Apple Wine - Bottle B2, 31st March 2012

The final bottle of Crab Apple 2010 ended in dramatic fashion.

I took this with me to an extended family gathering at Great Hucklow. Shortly after finishing the bottle we all gathered outside in the evening sunlight for a family photo. Except my mother was not there. She had gone to get her shoes. My father, being an impatient soul - a trait I have inherited - decided after thirty seconds that she was taking too long, and strode off to find her. He caught his sandal on a step and went sprawling, wine glass in hand. There was a simultaneous sound of collective gasp and shattering glass. Anne said "He's hit his head" and it was clear that blood was flowing from this crumpled heap. Happily, Anne was wrong and all he had done was cut his hand badly.

Pop was carted off to Casualty whilst the rest of us (except Mom, who went with him) ate and played games and generally had an excellent time.

Government Health Warning: Crab Apple Wine can cause Serious Injury.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Raspberry Wine - Bottle 2, 30th March 2012

This was the second bottle of my wine opened at Great Hucklow. It fizzed beautifully, and I poured the glasses carefully to ensure that everyone who wanted some got. Except Uncle Brian looked at me askance at his half measure and requested that I fill the glass properly. So I did.

I think raspberry was popular - certainly it should have been, as it is a lovely flavour - but I can't really remember as the evening rapidly descended into an alcoholic haze.

We finished this in the sitting room - all 22 of us - before dinner. The weekend as a whole was fabulous. Everyone had a splendid time, catching up with all their relatives, and I met a couple of first-cousins-once-removed for the first time. It should not have taken David's death as a catalyst to organise it. I was told he would have loved it.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Blackcurrant Wine - Bottle 4, 30th March 2012

This was the first bottle I opened at the Extended Family Gathering in Great Hucklow, Derbyshire. I thought it likely the cousins, uncle and aunts would be interested in sampling some of my wine, so brought four of my best bottles, though only three were drunk. That makes it sound like a near tee-total weekend, which I can assure you it was not.

The reaction to this wine was wholly positive. Emily and Abbie, neither of whom like red wine, claimed they enjoyed this flavour - mostly because it was sweet and tastes of Ribena.

One negative was that each bottle of my wine opened cost £2.50 corkage fee. Outrageous. Paying for wine made by me goes entirely against the grain. It increased the wine's raw cost seven-fold, so I got my father to pay.