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 30 March 2014

Blackberry Wine - Twelfth Bottle (B5), 22nd-23rd March 2014

I drank far more of this bottle than was sensible on Saturday night. Richard & Linda were here, and it was a wonderful evening, so I just kept filling my glass. The wine was delicious and slipped down easily, but let to a poor night's sleep and that horrible feeling of dizziness on waking. Ordinarily this would not matter on a Sunday, but today I was playing bassoon quartets with Amy, Simon & Chris in Kirk Deighton Village Hall at nine, so it was an early start. In fact, two hours of bassoon playing was an effective remedy and I had a splendid time. Four bassoons make a terrific noise.

(We didn't have a drum kit but this is one of the pieces we played)

Obviously, this is not us.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 22nd March 2014

Prune & Parsnip is probably my most medieval of wines. This fits with tonight's meal, which according to the recipe book - Londoners' Larder - was authentically Chaucerian. Richard & Linda were here and Claire took the opportunity to experiment. We started with a pea and mint soup, and this was the most normal course by far. Next was a spinach and currant dish with pinenuts, accompanied by a fish, rice & almond blancmange - which was odd. The main course was an onion and dried fruit tart - and this verged on the 'pudding' scale. The pudding itself was an apple omlette, and this was close to savoury. It was an interesting meal. Prune & Parsnip went well as it is neither savoury nor sweet and I can imagine peasants trying to make do without grapes to create a suitably tasty wine.

Monday 24 March 2014

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Third Bottle (3), 19th-20th March 2014

Thursday was a long day. I spent much of it in London at a conference for lawyers working in house-building. That sounds remarkably dull, but really it wasn't. The talks were all well done and mostly both useful and interesting. The thrill, though, was being in London - and I do feel like the wide-eyed country boy in saying that. But I saw St Paul's, Tate Modern, the Globe, the Old Bailey and Tower Bridge. Despite my northern prejudices, it is an amazing place.

By the time I got home I was exhausted, but not so much that I refused a large glass of crab apple & strawberry wine. This has a slight fizz, is a wonderful colour but is just a little too dry. Still, it was welcome after a busy day and a crowded, hot train journey.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Pineapple Wine - Second Bottle (3), 15th-17th March 2014

This bottle was not as good as the last, but that may have to do with differing expectations - and it was far from awful. It did for the whole of the weekend and into Monday too, which is rare for something drinkable.

On Saturday and Sunday we returned late from concerts and mostly wanted to sleep rather than get sloshed. Saturday's Music Club was the longest ever - running past ten. I would like to complain bitterly, but in fact most the music in the second half was well done. It was only the orchestra in the first half (and in which I was playing) that I would have cut.

Sunday was an Airedale concert - Bruckner's First Symphony - whch is loud and tedious.


Friday 21 March 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (C3), 14th March 2014

Mostly I am on the mend. My cold has improved, I am neither shivering or feverish and my desire to flop into bed is only moderate. However, the gum around my one remaining wisdom tooth has flared up again and if it is no better on Monday I will go to the dentist. It has to come out - this is becoming too frequent. Tonight I have tried to numb it with gin, followed by crab apple wine, and this is only partially successful. How very irritating. Still, once this one goes, I have no more wisdom teeth and my mouth should remain pain-free.

My dentist's

Sunday 16 March 2014

Rhubarb Wine - Tenth Bottle (A4), 14th March 2014

I have been threatening to take a bottle of wine into Work for over two years now. But my wine is too precious to feed to colleagues. Finally, though, I agreed to bring in a bottle of Rhubarb as a prelude to tonight's 'Work Night Out'. Except four of us (out of nine) have been ill this week and have stayed away from the planned night of carousing. The wine was slight consolation, and everyone who tried it said nice things. Carol was most enthusiastic and for that got rewarded with a second glass. Lily said it was much better than expected, and Simon and Debbie both commented on its strength. Only Martin refused a glass, but he is the most ill of all of us.

Many of my colleagues

Friday 14 March 2014

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (C4), 9th March 2014

My taste buds have taken a turn for the worse. I have spent much of this weekend in bed ill. Yesterday I was shivering and hardly had the energy to read. Today was far better but I'm still not well. I can tell this because both my gin & tonic, and this bottle of blackberry wine tasted off. The gin was too bitter, and there was something unpleasant about the wine. This didn't stop me drinking it, of course, and the lasagne Claire made was delicious. So maybe it was just the wine.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Orange Wine - First Bottle (A5), 5th- 6th March 2014

This is a very good batch of orange. It is a little sweeter than most years, but the acid-citric flavour is subtle. There is a sharp orange taste and the clarity is excellent. So on the whole I am really pleased.

Wednesday's glass was after WYSO, where the music is starting to come together. I spent my time drinking while ordering the cat food into a sequence the cats will eat. They can't have the same flavour or the same brand within three pouches of each other. Fussy buggers.

Then on Thursday I drank wine while sitting motionless. Claire needed me to be the model for a hat she is making for Todd's 50th birthday (NB - Photo to follow very soon, after Todd's 50th birthday so he doesn't see it here first in case he ever reads this!).This involved her sewing a long pink woollen cable to a balaclava I was wearing at the time, only occasionally sticking my head with needles.


If you want to see how I made this wine, click here

WYSO's next concert

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Rhubarb & Elderflower - Fifth Bottle (6), 1st-2nd March 2014

This bottle was waiting in the fridge for me after the Elmet Sinfonietta concert. I was definitely in need of it. On the whole the concert went well. However, the middle movement of the Stravinsky clung on by its fingertips. The bit I had been practising furiously, the bit I have worked on more than any other piece in recent memory, went wrong. I got lost and then just made it up. Happily, with atonal early twentieth-century music, you can do that and no-one in the audience noticed. The outer movements were much better and I think we pulled it off.

I opened the bottle as soon as I got home, before feeding the cats even, and drank not quite half. The special thing about this wine is its colour - a coppery pink. Tastewise it is good; dry and open. Suitable for a not-quite celebration.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Orange Wine 2014 - The Making Of ...

Evidence of Spring
Claire mentioned the possibility of doing a single batch of orange for 2014. This, of course, is sacrilege and I have done my usual double. I acknowledge that I am running out of both wine bottles and anywhere to put them, but this year could  prove to be a poor one for fruit. And orange wine is such a standard that it would be a shame not to have one bottle for every month.

Irritatingly, Noshis was selling their oranges at six for a pound when I bought them, rather than the eight for a pound they have been in the surrounding weeks. This means I have spent one whole pound more on my ingredients than I had planned. How can I justify this extravagance? They are good quality oranges, though, unlike the small and manky ones I used last year.

I started making the wine on Sunday 2nd March. A double batch of orange wine requires 24 oranges. My first job was to peel half the oranges very thinly, trying to avoid any pith. This is a tedious and time-consuming job, and these oranges seemed particularly resistant to a thin peeling. I had a Radio 4 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice to help, but I gave up after 10 oranges. I poured 2½ pints of boiling water over the peel and covered this with a lid, letting it sit for 24 hours or so.

I squeezed all the oranges, which resulted in 3¾ pints of juice and bits. This went into my bucket and I boiled 9 pints of water and put that in, along with 5½ lbs sugar. This is the first time I have added boiling water rather than cold.
Fermenting orange liquid

I added the yeast and teaspoons of nutrient and pectolase on Monday morning and put in the water that had covered the peel on Monday evening. My plan was to put it all into the demijohns on Thursday evening, but I spent most of Thrusday night being the dressmaker's mannequin for Claire's latest knitting project and went straight to bed afterwards. So I sieved out the orange detritus on Friday early evening instead before Book Group. The amount of water I used was nearly exact, and the colour is a bright, pleasing yellow.

A bright, pleasing yellow
If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here

Saturday 8 March 2014

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Third Bottle (B6), 27th-28th February 2014

This bottle was inexplicably better than the last we had of Tutti Fruti. It wasn't as dry or thin, and it was full of fruit flavours. This is very odd, particularly as the two bottles came from the same demijohn. Maybe it is just that my expectations were different.

Claire opened the bottle of Thursday while I was out playing trios with Pat & Peter - lots of baroque stuff with some Thelonious Monk thrown in for good measure. We finished the bottle on Friday while catching up in the kitchen. It was the first evening of the week that we had spent in each other's company and, as always, it is lovely just pottering together with the aid of a glass of wine or three.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Twelfth Bottle (A1), 23rd February 2014

I took this bottle over to Julia's for a feast, wondering whether I should have taken something a little less 'bog standard'. Julia's niece, Emma, is staying and as she is a violinist who has been convinced to come to Rydal, we played chamber music. There is very little that needs three strings and a bassoon so I ended up playing the flute for the first time in an age. I can just about still do it and semiquavers are easier on an instrument that diminutive.

Ros and Alex joined us for the food - a rabbit and chicken casserole - and we had plenty to drink. More than sensible for a Sunday night. The crab apple, in fact, was delicious, though it was the second or third bottle of the evening, which helped. Claire and I staggered home, getting to bed at too much past eleven.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Elderberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (B1), 22nd-25th February 2014

Saturday was busy. I spent most of it at Holy Trinity Church rehearsing with the Elmet Sinfonietta. 'Biting off more that you can chew' would be an apt phrase. Amongst the pieces is Stravinsky's Octet, which verges on the impossible, and with an octet there is nowhere to hide. Thus I felt I had earned a bottle on Saturday evening, although we did not finish it.

We drank the wine with a fabulous sausage and lentil casserole, saving enough for leftovers on Sunday lunch. Worryingly, I had a few solid bits in the wine - just the first glass, so I am hoping this is not the sign of things to come. They resembled three small blood clots, which was a little off-putting. I ignored them as best I could and went on reading The 100 Year Old Man who Stepped Out of the Window and Disappeared, which on the whole I do not love.