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.

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Rhubarb & Elderflower - Final Bottle (3), 20th April 2014

We spent a lovely evening at 3 The Alders in the company of this bottle. Judith cooked a chicken as our Easter roast and then fed us a ginger & rhubarb fool. There is still a portion of this in the fridge, and my eye is very firmly on it.

Sooz brought Ticket to Ride around, which is a fabulous board game involving strategy, some luck, swearing and steam trains. Judith scuppered my final route and only Bob did worse than I. The wine had been finished by this point in the evening and unusually I did not have much of the real stuff.

Having had six bottles of this flavour now, I would say its worst crime is being a little bland. It is a terrific colour and worth making in the future.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Elderflower Wine - Eighth Bottle (A2), 20th April 2014 (sort of)

I swapped this bottle for a ticket to a rugby match. We are in Newcastle for Easter, and Sooz suggested we go watch the Falcons play the Saracens. Not being one to say "I don't like it" until I've tried it, I thought this sounded like a splendid idea. So Claire, Sooz and I watched the local team put up a brave fight against the Saracens, but lose 23 - 17.

It was a baffling, enjoyable game with moments of genuine excitement. I did not understand the rules around a scrum at all, or why penalties were given. There was often a tangle of arms and legs on the ground as the unfortunate possessor of the ball got jumped on by five burly men. It was essentially a mixture of ballet and fighting, and not something I'd be any good at at all.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Elderberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (A5), 19th April 2014

Most of today was spent walking in the Ingram Valley in the Cheviots. It was a glorious walk in bright sunshine and solitude. The Cheviots are a wilderness; one of the few areas in England where you can turn a circle and see little evidence of modern life before you. We only heard the wind and bird song - curlews, lapwings, chaffinches, skylarks - until we got to Linhope Spout.

Back at 3 The Alders I opened the elderberry, which gave a pop and fizz, and drank it to roast pork. It was a lovely way to round off a perfect Easter Saturday.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Ginger Wine - Third Bottle (2), 18th April 2014

We are in Newcastle for the Easter break and I brought a bottle of Ginger with me. The weather has been splendid. When we eventually arrived I sat in the back yard, soaking up sunshine and reading The Cruel Sea. However, the journey up was frustrating - there was a ten mile traffic jam which took an hour to get through. I stayed in moderate temper by listening to Classic FM's annual top 300 countdown and being snarky.

Anyway, I was disappointed with this bottle of Ginger - it tasted too much of lemons and not enough of its eponymous ingredient. Bob & Judith both said they like it and I believe them, but of the three bottles of this flavour so far, this has been the worst.

NB - Today (24 April) someone has picked up my blog and posted it here: . Which is nice. And has resulted in 100s of hits.

Favourite comment so far: "Ben sounds like a prententious prat". Moi?

And I genuinely like Pazerlenis's comment (and suspect s/he would be disappointed if I did not comment on his/her comment commenting on my comment commenting on the comment above).

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (A3), 16th-17th April 2014

My tongue is on fire and my teeth are coated with caramalised chillies. It is an excellent feeling. Orange wine can only help (although I appear to have finished it). It is Maundy Thursday - which means a very long weekend which we will spend in Newcastle. Too many whiches in that sentence.

I have bottled two flavours while drinking this wine - strawberry yesterday and cherry this evening. Both are good, and they have helped bulk out our alcohol ration. Claire is currently distracting me by rubbing her new gloves against my stubble and declaring "percussion".

Monday 21 April 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (A2), 13th-14th April 2014

I opened this bottle on Sunday night after we had polished off a bottle of rhubarb. Emma was here and one bottle between three on a weekend is not enough (despite the gin & tonics). I can't remember what Emma thought of this, or even if she had any. In fact, Sunday evening remains a blur.

On Monday night I cooked sausages, mash & onion gravy, taking the opportunity of a week off Airedale to do more than heat something up and shovel it in.

There are still another three bottles of this vintage to go and I have yet to bottle 2013's. This is unusual for mid-April.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Rhubarb Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B3), 13th April 2014

J is not well and I fear she only has a couple of months left. After spending 45 minutes on her allotment digging, Emma and I went to visit her in hospital. Though better than she was on Saturday, J has physically diminished. Her eyes and teeth now look too large for the rest of her face. I will cope badly when she dies.

Anyway, Emma came back to ours for a short chamber music session (the poor neighbours - we sounded dire), lots of vegetarian curry, and a bottle of rhubarb wine. This rhubarb came from J's allotment and therefore seemed appropriate. It is a good bottle - one of my favourite whites.

Friday 18 April 2014

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Third Bottle (A3), 6th-7th April 2014

My liver needed a rest on Sunday after a boozy weekend in Derbyshire. It didn't get one. We opened and did not quite finish a bottle of Prune & Parsnip, drinking it to a bowl of beetroot soup and freshly baked bread. I was exhausted from the Family Get-Together but slept remarkably badly - probably getting less than two hours - and much of that was on the sofa so that I did not distub Claire with my restlessness.

I came home early from orchestra on Monday, had a sip of wine from Claire's glass (this is a fine flavour, despite all odds) and went straight to bed. This sleep was of the solid variety.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 5th April 2014

Rachael (my sister) asked for some of my wine and I had just poured the last of the blackberry. I offered her Prune & Parsnip or this, so Blackcurrant it was. At this point we were still sitting in the dark and I didn't keep track of who had any, but the bottle was quickly emptied by my assembled relatives. This is not surprising - blackcurrant is one of my very best.

The weekend as a whole has been a great success, with everyone but Jennifer (my father's sister), Tom (my father's sister's daughter's son) and Paul (my sister's partner) making it. Ellis (my brother's son) and Myles (my sister's son) have mostly been centre of attention - but that is right and proper. They were in danger of being kidnapped for being far too sweet.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Blackberry Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (D3), 5th April 2014

Much of this bottle was drunk in the dark. We are staying at the Nightingale Centre in Derbyshire and at 3:40, just before the Grand National, there was a power-cut. Lights did not come back on for nearly six hours, at which point there was a huge cheer. We managed to get in a whole knock-out table tennis tournament before the light failed entirely. The final was Matt (my father's sister's second son) versus Mike (my father's brother's elder daughter's husband), which Mike won (just). I made it through to the second round, but was beaten by Ben (my father's brother's younger daughter's elder son - aged 13).

When it got dark, we sat in the conservatory with tea-lights dotted around. As the Fire Warden, I was anxious they would set off the alarms and I would have to evacuate the building. Happily we stayed inside, drinking blackberry wine in the flickering gloom.

Monday 14 April 2014

Peach & Banana Wine - First Bottle (4), 5th April 2014

I had the first glass from this bottle and Rosie (my father's sister's daughter's daughter) had the second. It is the Extended Family Gathering and I promised Rosie - who helped make this wine - that I would bring a 'Peach and Banana'. My impressions were that it is okay, but no more than. Claire (my wife - seeing as in the next few posts I will be identifying how I am related to people I mention), however, thinks it is horrible and therefore we will probably not drink the remaining five bottles with any speed. I thought 'peach' was prominent but others said 'banana'. It is a little sweet and there is a cloying tendency, but it is drinkable (honestly) whatever Claire might say.

The original ingredients
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Kiwi Fruit Wine - First Bottle (3), 4th April 2014

I have been eager to try this wine since I first made it a year ago. The Extended Family Gathering seemed like an appropriate time to crack open the first bottle. And my verdict is that it is quite good and probably worth trying again. There is a strong taste of Kiwi Fruit, so I got that right when making it, and it is a crisp, dry white. Maybe a touch more sugar wouldn't hurt. There is a similarity to ordinary white wine, and that is pleasing. The colour is paler and less green than hoped, but attractive, and its clarity ranged from 'crystal' at the top of the bottle to 'murky' below. My guinea pigs (not literal, you understand) liked it

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

Thursday 10 April 2014

Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (2), 4th April 2014

The Extended Family Gathering was such a success two years ago (despite my father's journey in an ambulance to Casualty) that we have done it all again, and I am writing this in Great Hucklow, Derbyshire. I have brought several bottles of wine, and strawberry was the first opened. Many of the relatives got to try some and all were polite. Anne (of the David variety - my father's sister's first son's wife) was dubious on first taste but became a fan thereafter.

It was a lovely evening, working my way round the cousins while waiting for my immediate family to arrive. Everyone is so clearly pleased that I organised it all and I feel that I have genuinely done a Good Thing.

The Nightingale Centre, where we stayed

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (C1), 2nd-3rd April 2014

Our mid-week bottle. And there was little remarkable about it. I was home both nights without any evening rehearsals, so that is a bit unusual. I also showed great self-restraint by waiting until Claire had finished her viola practice before drinking crab apple wine (though I admit to a snifter of whisky before hand).

Some of Wednesday's wine was drunk while watching 'Rev' on i-player: a gritty comedy about the Church of England, which is rather lovely in its own way. But anything with Olivia Coleman tends to be fabulous.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Exotic Tinned Fruit Wine - Ninth Bottle (B4), 29th March 2014

This was the second bottle of the evening and we polished it off with no effort at all. Rachel & Duncan were here after our WYSO concert, and one bottle was never going to be enough. The first taste of this wine was dubious. too much of the 'chemical'. However, it got better as it went along. Some might argue that my tastebuds became less discerning.

Even ignoring the concert (which I thoroughly enjoyed) it has been a lovely evening. We discussed holidays - both the forthcoming one in the Lake District, and a potential one somewhere on mainland Europe in 2015. But now my eyelids are closing and I must go to sleep.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Elderflower Wine - Seventh Bottle (B4), 29th March 2014

This was the first of two bottles finished tonight after our WYSO concert which celebrated the letter F - Finzi, Faure and Franck. It was a good concert and I particularly enjoyed the Franck symphony. This piece took several months (well, two and a half) before I decided it was neither tedious nor turgid, and now the third movement is refusing to leave my internal play-list. I suspect that this will make sleep difficult.

Anyway, I opened the elderflower when we got home and drank it (with the help of Claire, Rachel & Duncan) as if was lemonade. A second bottle (although a different flavour) was inevitable.

Cesar Franck

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (A3), 26th-28th March 2014

I opened this bottle on Wednesday after our final regular WYSO rehearsal before the concert on Saturday, and we finished it on Friday while eating 'Tuna Surprise'; the surprise being that we managed to eat it without too much help from the cats. In between times we were in Peterborough for Uncle Henry's funeral. He died a couple of weeks ago and I thought it important to attend. He and Roy put me up one evening many years ago and I had an entertaining and wine-fueled time, watching videos of Roy's drag act in the 1970s.

Roy, of course, was devestated at the funeral. He is old and infirm and cannot have expected to outlive Henry. All very sad. Still, it was an opportunity to see Claire's extended family and to celebrate Henry's life.

Peterborough Crematorium