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 30 March 2013

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (B4), 27th-29th March 2013

March seems to have been a very long month. This has partly manifested itself in the ongoing winter, but I am mostly thinking about the bottles of wine. By having a second bottle of orange I have repeated a flavour - and unless I have made a triple or quadruple batch, this is something I try to avoid.

Claire opened the bottle whilst I was at a WYSO committee meeting. We need more violins particularly, but any strings or brass would be welcome, and this was the basis of the discussion. Meanwhile, back at the ranch Claire was drinking half the bottle.

I had a third of the remainder on Friday, whilst Sooz was here, but before we started eating. The orange flavour is subtle - more than I would choose - and that might make it more palatable to third parties.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Elderberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (A6), 23rd-24th March 2013

The scene from my bedroom window
I opened this bottle after our WYSO spring concert. Not that it feels like Spring. On the way up our street, the car got stuck on the snow and ice, and Claire spent ten minutes shovelling so I could get down the drive. Elderberry wine was her reward - and also our reward for the WYSO concert. It went remarkably well, all things considered, and we even got an audience, despite the snow. All my bassoon-prominent bits worked (though sending my thumb rest clattering to the ground during a quiet bit in the concerto was possibly more prominent than ideal). We got home too late to finish an entire bottle, so had the remainder on Sunday with a rabbit & prune casserole, which had Stan very excited.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A2), 22nd March 2013

I was actually looking for a bottle of elderberry. My wine is stored in haphazard fashion and I can rarely find what I am seeking. Still, blackberry is a more-than- adequate substitute and tonight a bottle of wine has been welcome. Work was more stressful than ideal, we have a concert tomorrow which has significant terror potential, and there is an inch of snow on the ground. It is nearly April. Claire made a snow bunny just to prove a point. We are in never-ending winter and I wonder if I have become trapped in Narnia's sensible cousin. Blackberry wine is a good substitute for Turkish Delight, and it has dulled the senses somewhat.

Friday 22 March 2013

Crab Apple Wine - 17th Bottle (A6), 20th-21st March 2013

Randal is a sadist.

Claire opened this bottle on Wednesday night after a particularly gruelling WYSO rehearsal. It was the final rehearsal before our concert, and was in 'The Venue', which had its heating turned up to eleven. We started at eight and did not stop until ten. My lip was in shreds by the end and there was very nearly a full scale rebellion in the oboe section. Randal emoted throughout, with his idiosyncratic tempi and often subtle down-beat. The concert on Saturday should be interesting.

I did not have any wine on Wednesday to check if a third night in a row off alcohol would have any effect on my nine-day-old headache. It did not. So I happily drank half the bottle on Thursday to see if that would work instead.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (A5), 16th-17th March 2013

I am an unsupportive and selfish husband. It was the Music Club AGM on Saturday. Claire, in her capacity as Membership Secretary, was obliged to go. I opened a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti and settled down to watch Groundhog Day instead. Non-specific apologies were sent, and for that reason I will appear in the minutes. The apologies had to be non-specific, because "I couldn't be arsed" would probably not go down well.

The wine was lovely and Groundhog Day is a good film, though less enjoyable on second viewing, even with a two decade gap. I, of course, saved a good deal of the bottle for Claire - I may be unsupportive and selfish but I am not a monster - and apparently the AGM was not as awful as feared. Most unusually for a Saturday night we retired to bed leaving a glass worth of wine in the bottle, which was quickly polished off on Sunday.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Rhubarb Wine - Tenth Bottle (A4), 13th-15th March 2013

A mid-week post-WYSO bottle of wine, and as such entirely satisfactory. Rhubarb is one of my favourite whites. It has a perfect level of dryness and fizz, and it reminds me of proper made-from-grapes wine. Most of my flavours, whilst being acceptable and often delicious glasses of alcoholic liquid, are not wine (now there's a confession I won't make very often) but rhubarb is different. I should do a blind taste test with this against Cava.

Diary-event-wise, very little happened during the drinking of this bottle. Anything I mentioned would be tedious. Insert your own punchline here ...

Thursday 14 March 2013

Elderflower Wine - Eighth Bottle (B1), 10th-12th March 2013

Park House (our building) at night

Sunday was an odd sort of day. We ended it traditionally by sharing a bottle of wine over a meal involving meat. This time it was a chicken stew with dumplings, and in fact we did not quite finish the bottle. That, I suppose, is odd in itself.

The stranger part of the day was the morning, which I spent at work. More accurately in the building in which I work. The BBC are filming a drama about The Great Train Robbery, and apparently Park Square in Leeds looks more like London in the 1960s than anywhere in London. Our building has a tremendous view of the square on its fourth floor, which the director wanted to use. I was told to arrive at  9. At 11:55 the filmed their footage, which took about a quarter of an hour, and left. Still, at least I got coffee, cake and a chance to meet someone who had built a Dalek for Russell T Davies for my troubles.

Park Square

Sunday 10 March 2013

Prune & Parsnip - Third Bottle (A4), 8th March 2013

This bottle was open and awaiting my return from work. I extended my working day by going for a Friday night pint with Martin and so did not get in until nearly eight. Happily Claire had the food under control. On International Women's Day I have a suspicion that this 1950s' model of family life is not quite appropriate.

I spent much of my time during this bottle doing wine making things: racking the pineapple and putting my orange wine into its demijohns. In the background was an entertaining Radio 4 Play about the making of Witchfinder General, a film I have not seen but which I am now more inclined to. However, I really must get to bed as my eyelids feel weighted down. G'night.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Orange Wine 2013 - The Making Of ...

Street oranges
March is forever the month in which I make orange wine, so I spent much of February keeping my eyes open to source the raw ingredients. Last week I had a rare trip to the dentist, prompted by a throbbing gum around my remaining wisdom tooth, and on the walk home I noticed boxes of oranges outside a shop looking ripe and healthy and pleasing. On Saturday I returned to the shop and asked how much they were. Hearing "Twelve for a pound", my inner Yorkshire miser did pirouettes of joy. In fact, when I inspected them closely, I saw that they were: a) small; and b) a bit manky. However, with careful selection I managed to choose 24 oranges which passed muster.

Horse poo for the garden
I started the wine on Sunday, 3rd March, which was a day full of tasks. I had to write myself a list and tick them off as I went. So Claire and I went to the tip, bought a compost bin (that just cried out for a Dalek photo opportunity, which I indulged - complete with sink plunger, egg whisk and sieve on the head; for that photo click here), and went to the local stables to collect horse poo for the garden.
Back at home I thinly peeled twelve of the oranges, doing my best to avoid the pith, put the peel in our large stainless steel pan, and covered this with four pints of boiling water. Next I squeezed all the oranges, putting their juice and whatever fleshy parts that came loose into the bucket. I added seven pints of cold water, five and a half pounds of sugar, the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase and gave it all a lengthy stir. This all sounds simple enough, but the whole process (including breaks to avoid stiff shoulders) took over three hours.

Orange peel in the pan, awaiting water.
On Monday morning I poured the water that had covered the peel into the bucket, discarding the peel. I transferred all the liquid into its demijohns on Friday night, 8th March. This was a quick process, which is a good job seeing as I did not start until after ten. I am currently struggling to keep my eyes open. There was not quite enough water added this year, and this must be down to the diminutiveness of the oranges. I think at least another pint would have been right. The yellow colour is not as vibrant as in past years.
Orange wine, which could be yellower

If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here

Friday 8 March 2013

Peapod Wine - Fourth Bottle (3), 6th-7th March 2013

I should have opened this bottle two weeks ago in honour of Richard Briers. Next to Fawlty Towers, The Good Life was the very best of 1970s comedy, and Richard Briers as Tom Good was the moral centre. Peapod wine was his tipple of choice, though on the strength of this bottle I am not entirely sure why. 'Inoffensive' is about as kind as I can be.

I opened it after a WYSO dedicated to Bruch's violin concerto. Our soloist is seventeen but looks several years younger, and plays beautifully. I am not at all jealous. Then tonight we finished the bottle to sausages. This is on a day where newspaper headlines have screamed "If you eat sausages you will die". I exaggerate a little, but on second thoughts that statement is entirely true. You will die if you eat sausages, or anything else for that matter. Maybe Richard Briers just had too much processed meat.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Orange Wine - First Bottle (B2), 2nd-3rd March 2013

I chose this bottle to open on Saturday night because Sunday was my day for making orange wine, and I wanted to check that the reduced sugar in 2012's batch worked. It did. Claire said that if anything, this orange wine is still on the sweet side. I disagree; the dryness level is about right. There is a slight herby taste that reminds me of nettle wine, and I cannot explain this.

We opened the bottle after Music Club. Dire things had been expected by both of us: Claire, because she was playing and me, because I was listening, but in fact it was a good night. Ludlow and Teme went as well as Claire had hoped, and was more accessible than I had anticipated. All the other performers were good, it did not go on much past nine thirty, and I only dozed off three times.


Incidentally, if you want to read how I made this batch of orange wine, click here. It is my ninth most viewed post.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Blackberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (A6), 28th February-3rd March 2013

I drank more of this bottle than I had intended on Thursday night. Probably about half. It was easy drinking, and I had got the the stage of Capital where there is just that little bit much left to finish that night, but you can do no other. So, I sat on the sofa with a cat on my lap, drinking and reading and not being aware of anything else. Which is actually a Thursday night well spent.

The remainder of this bottle has been drunk on Friday (Claire) and tonight (both of us), and it is unusual for a blackberry wine to take quite so long in the finishing. It is a good bottle - I think my favourite flavour - but we have been busy what with Book Group and Music Club and climbing into a compost bin pretending to be a Dalek.

Resistance is Futile