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 30 April 2013

Elderberry Wine - Eighth bottle (A1), 26th April 2013

This was our second (and - for the sake of propriety - final) bottle of the evening. With Claire's parents and my mother round, Claire cooked a feast of curry and I judged that elderberry would be the right bottle, with its near-sweet and biting taste. And what a feast. We had a fabulous mutton rogan josh (which for me was the highlight), a dall, a spinach and onion curry, and one involving black-eyed beans in a yellow sauce. All of it was wonderful, and there are disappointingly few leftovers.

In a change to tradition I tackled the washing up rather than leave it for Saturday morning, though I did have to tell Bob to stop bringing in more dishes from the table as it was not helpful.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Crab Apple Wine - Final Bottle (B3), 26th April 2013

It was Parent's Evening round at 3 Acacia Avenue* last night. Bob, Judith and Mom were all in attendance to check Claire's culinary skills and the progress I had made in wine-making. I opened my final bottle of Crab Apple for the occasion to universal acclaim. It fizzed nicely and distinctly apple in taste. It lasted the time taken to eat our starter and then retire to the sofa while Claire beavered away in the kitchen.

The starter was patra and salad in a tamarind sauce. Patra is wonderful stuff, even though all you need to make it is a tin opener - and I don't really know what it is. Some green leaf, filled with something spicy which has substance. Other than that, I am lost.

And so this batch of wine comes to and end, and I have yet to bottle 2012's version. For the moment we are crabappleless.

*This is not my real address.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fifth Bottle (A1), 23rd-25th April 2013

We are expecting an influx of parents tomorrow evening, so I have spent the last half glass from this bottle doing some badly needed housework. The low point has been donning a pair of unfeasibly tight pink rubber gloves to wash away ancient cat vomit. Prune & parsnip was a welcome tonic with its dry sherry taste.

Claire opened the wine on Tuesday night after a failed attempt to find the last bottle of Tea wine. I had half a glass on my return from Madeleine's quintet while washing up. Then we had a bit more on Wednesday after a noisy and unsatisfying WYSO, and again whilst I was doing the dishes. There seems to be a theme to this bottle, and not one which sets the pulse racing.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Fifth Bottle (B3), 21st April 2013

This bottle of wine was forced upon us. On our return from York I noticed that the cork was a little high above the rim. An hour later it was higher still. Therefore it was our duty to drink it. Claire acted as Bomb Disposal Officer, opening the bottle carefully with a large glass to hand. Despite the pop and fizz she managed to spill not a drop.

We didn't mean to drink the entire bottle - we are off to Waddington tomorrow for Granny Rita's funeral - but somehow we did. After eating a full chicken roast and apple crumble as a late lunch in York (at which Myles was centre of attention), we drank this bottle to soda bread and a boiled egg. I had forgotten quite how satisfying a soft boiled egg can be.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (4), 20th April 2013

On the strength of this bottle I am certain that strawberry wine improves the older it gets. This was one of my best bottles and I wish I had the self-control to keep flavours like this away from the corkscrew.

We are in York, meaning that I shared this bottle with Mom, Rachael and Paul - Pop being in Missouri, and Myles (at 13 weeks) being just that little bit young for a taste. Before opening this bottle Rachael, Myles and I went to Morrisons. In the supermarket I pushed the baby and kept on trying to put groceries on top of him. Rachael pushed the trolley and kept on trying to rock it to sleep.

Friday 19 April 2013

Rhubarb Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A6), 17th-18th April 2013

On the whole, I like cats. Aesthetically they are very pleasing. They have their own distinct characters, and a cat's purr is one of life's most comforting sounds. However, when an intruder cat comes into our house, eats all the biscuits and pisses in every space it explores, I am not so fond.

Having consumed a healthy dose of rhubarb wine on Thursday night, chasing the said beast around the house at midnight did nothing for my planned eight hours of sleep. I doused it with water (successfully) and flour (less so), and then let it escape. For the next few nights the cat flap will remain steadfastly on "in but not out".

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Crab Apple & Blackcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 14th April 2013

It has been an age since we had a Sunday roast. Tonight this was rectified. However, the chicken took rather longer than planned, meaning that Claire and I had polished off two thirds of this bottle, plus a hefty gin & tonic, before we started to eat. I find that drinking on an empty stomach is more effective.

The meal was excellent, though, and plentiful, and crab apple & blackcurrant is a terrific bottle of wine. Fruity and light, with a sharp bite to it. The Sunday surrounding it has been a relaxing weekend type of day, full of visits to the garden centre, reading, snoozing and catching up on Doctor Who. What more could one want of a day of rest?

Sunday 14 April 2013

Elderflower Wine - Ninth Bottle (A3), 11th-13th April 2013

Claire was unexpectedly in on Thursday night, her trios round at Julia's having been cancelled. Apparently Juia had spent the day clothes shopping (a most un-Julia-like activity) and consequently was exhausted. As there were two of us in the house to drink it, I opened a bottle of elderflower and settled down to watch Broadchurch - an English homage to The Killing with David Tennant and Olivia Coleman - whilst Claire played the viola. Not in the same room, of course. That would have been irritating.

Claire finished the bottle on Saturday while I was at Bradford Grammar School playing fourth bassoon with Leeds Sinfonia in Verdi's Requiem. I find it odd that Verdi required four bassoons. In a piece lasting well over an hour there are eight bars towards the end where all bassoons are doing something different and interesting. And that is it. I am sure Margaret Thatcher (who died this week) would have seen it as grossly inefficient use of resources and closed the piece down.

Friday 12 April 2013

Kiwi Fruit Wine - The Making Of ...

Spring may finally have sprung, though it has taken until 6th April to do so. The sky is blue, there is virtually no snow remaining and our rhubarb plants are raising their first exploratory tendrils. I should really be outside digging, but I need to get April's wine started today.

I went into our usual fruit and veg shop fully intending to come out with three tins of exotic fruit, but my eye was caught by the kiwi fruit, being sold at five for a pound. This is a whole kiwi fruit per pound cheaper than normal and I do love a bargain. Also, joy of joys, I get to tick off the letter K from my alphabet of wine. So all portents for this flavour are hopeful. (Though Claire thinks it will  be bland.)

I do not have a recipe for kiwi fruit wine, so I decided that twenty kiwi fruit would probably be about right - which is four pounds in weight (and, coincidentally, price). I have not googled the recipe in case I find out I need double that. I peeled them, though did not worry overly about leaving some skin on. This was tedious and sticky, and it is easier to peel them whole rather than in halves.

I chopped each fruit into eight and put them all in the bucket. They got a good mash and I added three pounds of sugar. I boiled seven pints of water and poured this over. The process made me irritable - which I worked out was because I got too hot and Stan, who does not like any food I currently serve (except creme caramel), whined incessantly. I locked him in the front room with some Sainsbury's Own Brand.

On my return from the theatre - Rutherford & Son, performed by Northern Broadsides (shouty, intense, good) - the wine's temperature had dropped to 29 degrees, so I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin.

I strained the liquid into its demijohn on Wednesday evening, 10th April. I was close with my estimate of water required - there is probably about half a pint too much. As was entirely predictable, the wine has turned from green to its usual cloudy-piss yellow.

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

Monday 8 April 2013

Blackberry Wine - Twelfth Bottle (A5), 5th April 2013

Friday night is Bottle of Wine Night. Actually, that makes it sound like the remainder of the week is spent in Methodist style sobriety. But Fridays are often the nights where a bottle is most welcome, being the liminal point between week and weekend.

I did not hit the booze on stepping through the door. Instead I did half an hour's bassoon practice in anticipation of Sunday's concert. The wine was pretty rapid after that, though. We drank it to a fabulous lasagne. Several weeks ago, Claire made a ragu sauce following Delia's recipe and froze it in portions. The result is the best bolognaise I have tasted. After this we had home made creme caramel, only one of which having been licked by Stan. All washed down with fizzy blackberry wine, which delicious even if does make me belch. Friday night was a gastronomic treat.

Friday 5 April 2013

Dandelion Wine - Fifth Bottle (3), 2nd April 2013

Oh it's nice to be feeling well again. And drinking a bottle of dandelion wine, aided and abetted by Claire, helps to prove it. Perhaps Tuesday night was not the most sensible time to make the point, particularly as I have an eight o'clock breakfast meeting tomorrow. Still, Claire is technically on holiday, and the wine is really very good indeed. I think it is the best dandelion I have made - fragrant and light and (as tonight has shown) rather more-ish. Now I have a dilemma about which April wine to make - this or Exotic Tinned Fruit. I shall possibly do both, and hoard the dandelion as it obviously improves the longer it is kept.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fourth Bottle (B4), 31st March - 1st April 2013

I had an alcohol free Easter Sunday, and only a glass and a half on Easter Monday. Virtually the whole time has been spent looking haggard and wearing pyjamas. The first clue that I was not at my peak was projectile vomiting at Amy and Darren's wedding. Fortunately this did not fulfill its potential for social embarrasment, and only having drunk two and a half glasses of wine, I am certain it was not drink related. But I spent Sunday in bed, wan and bedraggled, and had no input into Claire's choice of wine for the evening.

Today has been better - I even got dressed at four, did some bassoon practice and helped Claire with the bottle. Which means I am well enough for work tomorrow. Bah!

Monday 1 April 2013

Exotic Tinned Fruit Wine - First Bottle (A1), 29th March 2013

Sooz is visiting this Easter weekend, so I thought I would treat her to the first bottle of a new batch of wine. It did not go according to plan. She described it as like "the juice from a tin of fruit cocktail with an undertone of mouthwash". I offered to finish her glass and this was gratefully accepted. Happily both Claire and I enjoyed this bottle and agreed that it is (even) better than the last batch of Exotic Tinned Fruit, though Sooz has a point that it is on the border of being too sweet. On the strength of this, though, I think that I will do this flavour again as my April wine this year. However, right now I must go to bed as despite it being not-yet-ten my lids are exceptionally heavy and my eyes keep crossing.


If you want to read how I made this batch, click here