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 29 May 2012

Rose Petal Wine - First Bottle (4), 26th May 2012

It has been such lovely weather recently that drinking a bottle of Rose Petal wine in the evening sunshine just seemed like the right thing to do. Claire, Rachel, Duncan and I sat in the garden draining this bottle as a prelude to a Mexican meal in Chapel Allerton.

The wine was dry and unusual. It is a pleasant pink colour though without the absolute clarity of Rhubarb wine. There was a definite taste of Turkish Delight, which given the ingredients is hardly a surprise. I thought that maybe the wine lacked body, but everyone else said they thought it rather good. On the whole a qualified 'hit'.
This was a bottle of wine made from grapes had later in the evening at the restaurant.
NB - If you want to see how I made this wine, you can click this link here to get to an earlier blog post.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Elderflower Wine - Bottle B4, 25th May 2012

As I walked out of the house this morning, Claire asked which bottle of white wine she could put in the fridge for tonight. Now, this left me in a quandry. We have already drunk May's ration of white wine. However, the weather is such that chilled white wine is where it is at, so I e-mailed Claire from work with the answer 'elderflower'.

We have had a pleasant Friday evening drinking this. Most of it whilst Claire was spread out on the chaiselongue, with me lying on the sofa, alternatively chatting and reading. I have just started my 'Guilt' book; The Chamber by John Grisham. About which, I was prepared to be sniffy, but in fact (so far) it is quite good. As is the elderflower wine. It is one of those wines which has little variation from year to year. And in this particular case, that is a Good Thing.

Friday 25 May 2012

Blackberry Wine - Bottle C2, 23rd-24th May 2012

Summer has arrived. After the wettest April and coldest May that I can remember, the last three days have been glorious. Each lunchtime Park Square has been covered in pasty solicitors, accountants and secretaries taking advantage of the sun. I can feel the happy, lazy mood that Leeds is exuding, and it is wonderful. The warmth has stayed late into the evening, and Claire and I drank our Thursday night ration of this bottle in the garden, marvelling about being outside so late in just a single layer of clothing, inspecting our nascent crops and making high pitched calls by blowing through grass trapped between our thumbs. This is how early summer should be, made all the better by blackberry wine.

NB - If you click on the link, you can see the building in which I work, and very nearly the window which I look from. It is the larger photo on the top right corner of the web page. My building is the one in the background - not the Italianate main one - and I am on the top floor, fourth or fifth (which you can't see) window from the right.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Bonfire Wine - Bottle 1, 19th May 2012

We are spending the weekend near Solihull with Jo and Ian (and three noisy, good natured boys). Jo asked me to bring a bottle of Chilli Wine, and who was I to refuse? We drank it as one of many alcoholic drinks, started shockingly early, whilst playing board games. The best was like Pictionary, but Lego-based. Claire was in her element. Her Lego ice hockey rink was obvious once she had pointed out the individual elements.

The Bonfire Wine went down well. I think both Jo and Ian used the word 'delicious' several times. They each claimed to be able to taste the chilli. Tommy, aged not-quite-13, was allowed a little glass and becomes the youngest person yet to have more than a small taste of my wines.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Crab Apple Wine - Bottle A4, 18th May 2012

This bottle of wine disappeared alarmingly quickly. It is an alcoholic fizzy pop, tasting of sweet apple juice, and is therefore very easy to drink. By the time we sat down to eat there was only a glass each left.

I had planned on spending the evening watching 56 Up. This is a documentary following a group of individuals at seven year intervals, and is something that I have been following since introduced to Seven Up in a sociology lesson aged 14. Therefore it was massively irritating to find that our computer stutters badly over 'itv-player' (whereas it is fine with BBC's i-player), making the programme unwatchable. I shall have to find an alternative solution. Because 56 Up is unmissable - I have literally been looking forward to it for years.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Redcurrant Wine - Bottle B1, 16th-17th May 2012

Claire and I returned from WYSO fired up about Scheherazade. It is a difficult piece and is just starting to sound good. Buoyed up, it seemed right to open a bottle. After rejecting all the nice flavours for being too good for a Wednesday, I opened the last bottle of Redcurrant 2010. And it was alright, though nothing more, with an overall taste of cherry lips.

I washed up and Claire made sandwiches, such is the exciting life we lead. But we did this companionably and each had an additional three-quarter glass beyond our ration.

On Thursday, when I returned from playing trios with Pat and Peter, the bottle stood empty on the counter, though I stole a few sips from Claire's glass. In full view of course. I don't think she minded.

Friday 18 May 2012

Gooseberry Wine - Bottle 5, 13th May 2012

Richard and Linda came round for a meal last night, so I bunged a bottle of gooseberry wine in the fridge. This is a month earlier than I had been planning to start this vintage, but we wanted something sharp, fresh and white to drink with the (mostly) fish based food.

Our starter was squares of salmon topped with wilted chard and pickled plums. This was followed by home made ravioli crescents filled with prawns, garlic and herbs in a tomato sauce. Third course was cheese made by Claire (using a Home Farmer recipe, I think) garnished with chives on sour dough bread (which required a good deal of sawing). Just in case this was not enough, we had Almost Bakewell Pudding for the final course, where the jam used was crab apple and rosemary. Quite a feast, and the wine held its own. It is better than Gooseberry 2010, which itself was okay, and secures gooseberry's status as a Regular Flavour.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Citrus Wine - Bottle A4, 11th May 2012

Friday nights are made for drinking slightly more wine than is good for you.

I arrived home from a not entirely unstressful week at work to a stiff gin and tonic, which disappeared with unseemly haste. This was followed rapidly by a bottle of citrus wine, during which we listened to the News Quiz and the Archers, ate a satisfying meal comprising of bacon, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cream cheese and spaghetti, and chatted merrily about nothing important. I have spent the rest of the evening getting sticky with my 2012 batch of rhubarb wine, whilst grabbing the odd slurp from my final glass from this bottle. My head is swimming somewhat, but a quiet Saturday should fettle that.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Strawberry Wine - Bottle 4, 6th May 2012

Strawberry wine always seems to coincide with a good day. This bottle has been no exception. I spent this morning picking rhubarb in the sunshine, this afternoon playing bassoon quartets at a wedding in York, and this evening making wine, eating a fabulous chicken chilli and watching Life on Mars. Of all activities, it was the bassoon quartets that was best. I wore my frog waistcoat and lucky musical socks, and we played brilliantly, if one ignores the two clunking B naturals that I threw in by mistake. This evening I have had various bits of the repertoire dancing around in my head. Currently it is Mozart's Turkish Rondo, but before that it was The Teddy Bears' Picnic, interspersed with a sultry tango. Yes, four bassoons can do 'sultry'.

The strawberry wine went perfectly with today's mood, and though this is 2010's final bottle, I bottled 2011's vintage this evening.

NB - Apologies for going on quite so much about the bassoon quartets over the last three postings! This will be their last mention (as it all happened now over a week ago). The other NB is an article that appeared in the York Evening Press on Saturday this week about my Book. You can read it here.

Friday 11 May 2012

Rhubarb Wine 2012 - The Making Of ...

I am always pleased when May comes round. Not only is it the month that all trees put out their leaves, looking fresh and green, but it is the first proper month for wine making. One can do April wines - dandelion or nettle - but honestly, why bother? May marks rhubarb season, and that is always a winner.

Today, 6th May, it also marked 'wedding season'. I spent this afternoon playing bassoon quartets at a wedding reception in York. Most people will have a tasteful string quartet, if they have anything, playing Pachelbel's Canon. This bride showed originality and had four bassoons instead, playing Teddy Bear's Picnic and The Pink Panther. It was glorious fun and I hope we went down well.

Earlier this morning I went to Julia's allotment to pick the rhubarb. It was a sunny morning, but chilly for May. I helped net some blackcurrant bushes, to prevent the local pigeons getting fatter, and was then let loose on the rhubarb. I needed six pounds for a double batch and picking this amount proved little effort. I like the way rhubarb stalks come up with a slight 'pop' as the base separates from the plant. There were some very butch stalks and I came away with seven pounds - the remaining rhubarb is in the freezer, possibly awaiting a batch of 'rhubarb and elderflower'.

After the wedding I chopped the rhubarb into pieces of about one centimetre and put it into the bucket. I covered this with fourteen and a half pints of boiling water (I think - I may have lost count with the jugs of water). Six pounds of sugar, the yeast and one and a half teaspoons of nutrient went in the next day.

I put this all in its two demijohns on Friday evening, 11th May. This was a sticky process which took the entirety of Any Questions on Radio 4. Perhaps I should have listened to Radio 3 instead. Any Questions is a tedious programme full of self-important pomposity.

The wine is its usual little-girl-pink, and I have (as always) put one batch in a brown glass demijohn and covered the other demijohn in silver foil so as to preserve the colour. The amount of water I used proved to be just about perfect, though the frothy top of the wine is escaping through the air locks. Therefore, keeping the wine in the batch is justified on this occasion.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Rhubarb Wine - Bottle B6, 5th May 2012

Over the last couple of years rhubarb wine has been consistently good. I am pleased that this is no exception. The colour is a fabulous bronze and the wine has a definite fizz. If we ever get a spell of warm weather I suspect this will cause corks to pop. Its taste is dry and light but with enough body to make it interesting. I am due to start my Rhubarb 2012 tomorrow, and on the strength of this will definitely make a double batch.

I opened the bottle shortly after a bassoon quartet rehearsal in preparation for tomorrow's wedding. Four bassoons make a fabulous sound, and when the music is well-known (Teddy Bears' Picnic, Pink Panther, Liberty Bell) it is Very Silly Indeed.

Thomas stayed over for a meal of Lentil Farmer's Pie and flap jacks. He couldn't have the rhubarb pie because the pastry was made with lard.

Monday 7 May 2012

Orange Wine - Bottle B6, 1st-3rd May 2012

Claire opened this bottle whilst I was out eating curry with Darren and Nigel. It was an entertaining evening that involved playing PacMan in an underground bar, more beer than was sensible for a Tuesday night and intense conversations. Claire had a quiet night in with her viola and a glass of orange wine.

Wednesday's glass followed WYSO, as always, where we had sectionals. I am beginning to believe we might pull off the two concerts. And then the bottle was finished on Thursday after I had voted in the local elections (including 'against' for an elected mayor).

This orange wine is too sweet. I must put in less sugar next year.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Elderberry Wine - Bottle A3, 29th April 2012

Britain is officially in drought. Paradoxically, we have had the wettest April in a century. Both these statements are true. And Sunday was the rainiest day of them all. I went outside twice: once to buy flour, eggs and butter (for a banana cake made later in the afternoon) and once to pick parsley. Both times I was drenched. Otherwise I stayed safely inside doing very little. This strenuous effort was rewarded with a bottle of elderberry wine, which has matured sufficiently and avoids the 'too young' taste of earlier bottles. It marked the end of  a week's holiday, and now I should concentrate on drinking a little less. (Yeah, right.)

Saturday 5 May 2012

Crab Apple Wine - Bottle A3, 28th April 2012

Sweet white wine, which this is, goes suprisingly well with mild vegetarian curry. I was expecting the flavours to clash, but they were all distinctive enough to hold their own. We had a carrot, cabbage and carroway seed curry (and with alliteration like that, how could it fail?), one made from new potatoes, tomatoes and coconut, and baby aubergines stuffed with minced peanuts and aubergine flesh. Then, after saying that I thought we shouldn't have a bottle after the alcohol-infused Derbyshire experience, I finished the bottle while watching episode one of The Bridge - another Scandanavian gruesome crime drama.

NB - Claire has pointed out that there were no carroway seeds in the first curry. They were mustard seeds instead. But that ruins the alliteration entirely, so I shall stick with the historically inaccurate version.

Friday 4 May 2012

Sloe Wine - Bottle 6, 26th April 2012

This was the last of six bottles brought to Derbyshire. It has been a week infused with alcohol. Everyone agreed that the hue of this wine is its best feature. It is a light, clear red that lies beyond the colour pink. Tastewise, however, sloe is too thin. There is no body or depth. The alcohol content, though, is not in doubt. Shortly I will be lying very still in the dark muttering that I ate and drank too much. Which has been a feature of this holiday.

Today we went on a walk of less than ten miles which took us past Chatsworth - a huge Georgian pile of golden stone and gilded windows. It even looked impressive in the pouring rain, which has been the other feature of this holiday.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Elderflower Wine - Bottle B4, 25th April 2012

I brought this bottle of wine with me to Spout Cottage, as I remembered Duncan enjoyed a bottle from a previous batch. And this wine proved popular with the assembled throng. It has aged well, having more body than I remember, and retaining the distinctive elderflower taste. One should drink it on a warm summer's day, yet today it has poured with rain - almost without let up. Much of the day I could see sheets of water blow their way across the fields. Despite this being a walking holiday, I have only ventured outside once. That was for about fifteen minutes, and even then I got wet. Otherwise I have stayed resolutely inside reading, doing crosswords and watching Life on Mars. As well as rather a lot of eating and drinking. Oh, and watching small birds flocking around the bird feeder. All manner of finches and tits as well as a random moorhen, whose feet would look better suited to a turkey.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Bonfire Wine - Bottle 4, 24th April 2012

Rachel was particularly keen that I bring a bottle of Bonfire Wine to Spout Cottage. Whilst she enjoyed it, this wine proved remarkably unpopular with Ann and Duncan, and I suspect that Nick did not much like it either. He complained that it tasted too earthy - all the taste was at the back of the tongue - and that there was no similarity to real wine. I disagree. I enjoy its dryness and sparkle, and think it one of my best.

It accompanied moussaka, most of which I made, though Claire did the topping when it was clear I was sinking rapidly into a bad mood brought about by cooking.

The most notable part of today, however, was towards the end of our ten mile walk. After a field full of cows, we came to the inevitable muddy lane. Trying to do my best impression of Jesus walking across the Sea of Gallilee, I sank ankle deep in cowshit - much to the amusement of the resident farmer. I suspect my boots, trousers and jacket will never fully recover.