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.

Monday 31 December 2012

Clove & Ginger Wine - First Bottle (5), 26th December 2012

By itself, clove and ginger wine would make a terrible drink. Mix it with whisky in like for like ratios and it becomes rather too drinkable. Nearly forty eight hours later* and I am still feeling dizzy. To the extent that if it continues much longer I should probably consult a doctor.

Anyway, most of this bottle was drunk at Andrew's whilst we played Ticket to Ride - an excellent strategic board game involving trains and North America. It was a grand way to spend Boxing Day evening, getting quickly sozzled while being competitive. Sooz won convincingly and Andrew and I battled for last place. For the concilation prize I opened a bottle of elderberry wine. This was not a good idea.

*now five days later, and there has been only a slight improvement. Hmmm.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Final Bottle (A5), 25th December 2012

This was our third and final bottle before the Christmas Feast. There were ten of us, which makes it a little more respectable.

Sam and Hannah came, and they are now engaged. I squealed when told - I am so pleased. When I met Sam in 1996, his most frequent conversation was about how he would never find a girlfriend, and then I found it easy to believe. I would never have predicted Hannah, who is both lovely and beautiful, and I am just delighted that they will marry. It was the best Christmas present - even better (and I know this will be hard to believe) than the pair of socks that Claire gave me. Admittedly they are 'Lucky Musical Socks', which I will need to put into training at rehearsals, so that they can be fully charged up by the time my current pair wear through.

It has been an excellent Christmas.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Christmas Tutti Fruti - First Bottle (B5), 25th December 2012

I am vaguely surprised that this bottle did not detonate on the Christmas morning journey up the A1 to Newcastle. It is remarkably fizzy. And being gently shaken for 120 minutes at seventy miles per hour is a recipe for explosion. Anyway, it survived until late afternoon, at which point Bob opened it with a 'pop' and served it to the assembled throng.

This batch is not as good as that made in 2010, but is still entirely drinkable. There is a 'light and refreshing' side to this wine, where no one fruit dominates. My critical faculties were becoming a little impaired at this point, so perhaps I was not the best judge. There was still another bottle to be drunk before we sat down to eat.

Friday 28 December 2012

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Eleventh Bottle (A4), 25th December 2012

At about twenty past four on Christmas Day, I decided the afternoon was in too sharp a focus. We had only been served one sherry - Croft Original, naturally - and on 25th December usual rules about yard arms and the Sun don't apply. So, I opened this bottle and served it to the assembled Taylors. Keeping a goodly portion for myself, of course. It was a pre-prandial bottle (as were the next two that followed) and this batch is probably the best Tutti Fruti I have made - much lighter than real red wine, but stuffed with fruit. Everyone enjoyed it.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Redcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (2), 23rd December 2012

I like redcurrant wine. This batch is so much better than the last, and therefore the flavour is redeemed. It has a sharp, sweet taste - akin to acid drops, and of course it is a delightful colour. It goes well with vegetarian curries too: Claire has just bought a new cook book, and this has been a theme of our diet as of late.

Whilst drinking the bottle, David rang and it sounds like he, Amie, Zoe (who is now 14 - yikes!) and Owen will be coming to stay for New Years. This is wonderful news, as I don't think we have seen them for three and a bit years. Which is Too Long. It will be something of a crush, and we don't possess a trampoline, but I am looking forward to it immensely.

Monday 24 December 2012

Christmas Tutti Fruti 2012 - The Making Of

It is a dank Tuesday evening, 18th December, and I am yet to be gripped by seasonal cheer. This probably has something to do with the fact that we are about to set off for our Sainsbury's Christmas Shop, and I imagine this will be hellish. However, I have done no present buying yet (unless one counts ordering a couple of CDs on line) and my cards remain unwritten. Bah! as they say. And, indeed, Humbug. Making Christmas Tutti Fruti may improve things and I have timed it so that the liquid will go into its demijohns during the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

The fruit in the freezer this year has been mostly of the 'white wine' variety, with a large percentage being gooseberries. This will make the end result rather different from previous years. I have put in 8 lb, 7 oz fruit, and in alphabetical order this is: apples (11 oz), blackberries (11 oz), blueberries (½ oz), crab apples (5 oz), elderberries (14 oz), gooseberries - green (1 lb, 2¾ oz), gooseberries - red (2 lb, 6½ oz), quince (5 oz), rhubarb (11½ oz), rosehips (¾ oz), sloes (12½ oz), strawberries (6 oz) and tomatoes - green (½ oz). Oh, and a satsuma.
I removed all this (except the satsuma) from the freezer on Monday night and put it in the bucket to defrost. It has been mashed tonight and I have poured in 5lb 12 oz sugar and 12 pints of boiling water. I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase on Wednesday, 19th December, and by Friday I was worried that the yeast was a dud batch. The usual frothiness was noticeably absent. However, by Saturday it was clear the wine was fermenting.

I did manage to time the stage where I sieve out the fruit and put the liquid into the demijohn with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols - Once in Royal David's City was playing as I dipped the jug into the bucket for the first time. The wine is a satisfying light burgundy colour and I could probably have used a pint less liquid.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Spiced Beetroot Wine - Second Bottle (1), 20th-22nd December 2012

On my way out to Madeleine's for wine quintets, Claire asked which bottle of wine it would be acceptable to open. I told her "any" and genuinely believed it. I had not expected her to open Spiced Beetroot. Oh well.

By the time I got back, about half the bottle had gone and Claire was in a jolly mood. The two may not be unconnected. I had a small glass but save the rest for later, and 'later' proved to be Saturday night.

Saturday was an exceptionally wet day - I wore waterproof trousers to pop round the corner to buy a Guardian whilst Claire looked up suppliers of gopher wood on the internet. We finished the bottle after a Christmas Open House at the Bridgewaters and to a selection of vegetable curries, followed by a ridiculous and entirely satisfying Midsomer Murders. It is so camp.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Elderflower Wine - Seventh Bottle (B6), 21st December 2012

This was a rare beast of a bottle. I gave it away, and it is sitting on Angie and Phil's kitchen counter, unopened. My mother believes I am miserly with my wine, and as this is the first bottle I have given to someone for about two years, she probably has a point.

Anyway, the occasion was the annual Christmas Carolling trek round Angie's neighbourhood, followed by mince pies and mulled wine. It is the only time of year when I sing (save for weddings and funerals) and I find that I enjoy it. I would love to be able to sing in harmony, however, but can only do the tune.

This event always marks the proper start of Christmas for me, helped this year by it coinciding with the last day at work in 2012. So, worth sacrificing a bottle of elderflower wine.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Orange Wine - Tenth Bottle (A4), 16th December 2012

I hadn't intended to drink any wine tonight, but find myself having drunk half a bottle by mistake. It is an easy one to make. Claire handed me a glass whilst I was a third the way through 'The Killing's final episode, and it would have been rude to refuse. Also, I was so engrossed in the plot, and worried that Sarah Lund would be killed off, that I hardly noticed a glass go down. And then it's natural to have a glass and a half with one's evening meal (beans on toast - though all home made). By that time, there is so little left in the bottle that you might as well polish it off - particularly if you need an incentive to do all the washing up. That's my excuse anyway.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Crab Apple Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (C4), 15th December 2012

Before the Christmas madness hits properly, we are spending the weekend in York. We are taking our last opportunity to visit Heworth Green before Rachael moves in to have her baby. Pop is currently in Missouri (though back next week) so it has been a quiet evening with Mom. This has involved eating partridge (without the pear tree) and teal duck, and watching a cheesy, cheap and entirely satisfactory 'Top 50 Christmas TV Moments' until far too late at night. The crab apple wine was the first of two bottles opened, and met with my mother's approval.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Blackberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (B5), 9th December 2012

Lazy Sundays are the best. Other than vegetable shopping, a trip to the recycling centre and a couple of washing up sessions, I have done very little. And sometimes that is exactly how it should be. Life has been busy of late and will continue to be so in the run up to Christmas, so a day on the sofa has been welcome. There is some residual guilt for failing to do any Christmas shopping or cards, but there is more than two weeks to go. Bags of time.

This bottle of blackberry wine polished off the day's inactivity, and might fine it was too. We drank it to a nut roast, baked garlic, onion gravy and mushy peas, and I have followed it up with a small glass of cranberry vodka and a Skype conversation with Todd & Anne. It looks like we will be going to Oregon next year. Hoorah.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Crabapple & Blackcurrant Wine - Second Bottle (2), 8th December 2012

When a concert has gone well there is no better feeling. Spirits and adrenalin are up, and the world is momentarily a happier place. This was the experience last night after our WYSO concert, where we played Beethoven's 8th, Mozart's 40th and a Haydn cello concerto. Three weeks ago I was predicting dire things, but it all came together beautifully (despite my lip dying in the last movement of the Beethoven).

This bottle was a celebration and shared with Rachel, Duncan, Fiona and my mother. It is a light, fizzy red which goes surprisingly badly with lemon drizzle cake but is otherwise a tasty brew. I only had two small glasses on account of the morning's hangover after a work night out.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Dandelion Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 6th-7th December 2012

I opened this bottle on a Thursday night and proceeded to drink half of it with unseemly haste. Some of that was spent watching The Killing (which continues to be excellent - better than series two (which was still Very Good), not as good as series one) and the rest was over a meal of sea bass and lentil salsa. Claire finished the bottle on Friday night whilst I was out with my colleagues eating pizza and drinking far, far too much. I am typing this at noon on the day after, and only just now feel human. Which is lucky, as I have a concert tonight.

This dandelion wine was surprisingly good. So much so that I think I will make it again. Maybe leaving it to mature is the answer.

Monday 3 December 2012

Elderflower Wine - Sixth Bottle (A2), 1st December 2012

We are in Bristol visiting Bridget, Paul, Gemma and Adam. It has been a year since I last saw Bridget. Since then Adam has been born, and is both teething and crawling. The latter activity is a strange snaking action which may work better in a swimming pool. Gemma is a delightful two-and-a-half year old with bright red hair (unsurprising given her genetic heritage) who runs enthusiastically and has a healthy interest in play-dough.

Once the children had been put to bed, Bridget started cooking curry and I opened this bottle of elderflower. Happily the wine survived the train journey (which lasted an hour longer than expected). I chose something non-fizzy for that purpose. It went well with the food and both Paul and Bridget said nice things about it. This may be because they enjoyed it, or it may be because they were well brought up.