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 August 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Third Bottle (B2), 25th-26th August 2014

This is a very good batch of crab apple wine. It has proper apple flavours and is deeper than many of my whites. We started the bottle on Bank Holiday Monday after experiencing the Leeds West Indian Carnival for the first time. It was a colourful, happy, noisy event despite the continual drizzle. 'Understated' and 'subtle' are just two inappropriate words to describe the costumes. People wore dragons and vast orange wings - as much puppet as fancy dress. My favourite was the woman wearing large numbers of bats on flexible poles, dancing above her head. She was followed by a small army of young boys, each wearing their own black and shocking-pink bat costumes.

Friday 29 August 2014

Rose Petal Wine - Third Bottle (A6), 24th August 2014

I chilled this bottle for a day before drinking and conclude that rose petal wine is better as a result. It has a hint of bitter undertones but is floral taste and dry, fizzy nature counteract those. We drank it on a lazy bank holiday Sunday in which we recycled a year's worth of glass and Claire made plum sauce. The day concluded with Peter Capaldi's first Doctor Who, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Doctor is safe in his hands.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Elderberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B4), 22nd-23rd August 2014

This was the third bottle opened on Friday night while Ros was here, and that was a poor decision. Not because of its taste, which is full and red, but because of Saturday morning's headache. As hangovers go it was mild, but on the throbbing side of noticeable. Having indulged rather too heartily on Friday, we punished ourselves by only drinking what was left in this bottle on Saturday night. So Saturday - my parents' 50th wedding anniversary - was distinctly sober. It meant a good night's sleep, though, and I woke this Sunday morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Blackcurrant Wine - First Bottle (5), 22nd August 2014

Ros came over for a meal on Friday and Claire suggested a red. I gave Ros the choice of blackcurrant or elderberry and she chose this. This did not stop us opening the elderberry later in the evening, or polishing off a bottle of Chianti. It was a good evening.

Claire did her usual job of marvellous food. We started with French onion soup - one of the primary reasons I married her, followed by salad with nasturtium petals, then a spicy chicken stew with griddled courgettes and finally a lemon meringue pie. Delicious. The wine was disappointing, however. Too thin, a little dry and without that powerful blackcurrant hit that other vintages have produced.

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

Monday 25 August 2014

Blackberry Wine - 19th Bottle (C6), 17th-20th August 2014

Yet another fabulous bottle of blackberry wine. Full bramble flavours and as sweet as it needs to be. We drank it to our first roast of the season. The weather has turned autumnal at least a month too soon, and roast chicken with bread sauce and gravy seemed suitable.

The bottle stayed open and undrunk until Wednesday when Rachel came round bearing snails. We are to gastropod-sit her nephew's three giant African land snails while he is on holiday and she is in Cambridge. 'Giant' is a misdescription. 'Smaller-than-garden-variety' would fit better. They are a low maintenance pet.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Rhubarb Wine - Fourth Bottle (B2), 16th-17th August 2014

What a lot of cleaning and tidying I have done this weekend. A wind quintet that I do not know is coming here to rehearse on Thursday and our house is in a state. So I have put things from places they shouldn't be into places they should, scrubbed the floor, dusted, brushed and vacuumed. Oh, and mowed the lawn too. My reward has been rhubarb wine, which is fizzy and light and refreshing. I love the hint of pink to its colour that is only there if you look for it.

Before ...

Saturday 23 August 2014

Blackcurrant Wine 2014 - The Making Of ...

I have had an experiment forced upon me, all to do with yeast. My last remaining yeast was 'champagne' variety, which is a white wine yeast. On making blackcurrant wine, I had no choice to put that in. However, I have long wondered just how much difference the yeast actually makes. This 'running out of yeast' has coincided with picking 5 lbs 3 oz of blackcurrants in Lindsay's back garden on Sunday, 6 July, which is not quite enough for a double batch of wine. So I have used 3 lbs and put the remainder in the freezer, waiting for our currants to ripen. I will then make another single batch of wine with the same method, but using a red wine yeast.

Picking the fruit was lovely - Dylan (Lindsay's 7 year old) helped enthusiastically and James (her 10 year old) mostly watched. The bushes were at arm height, the sun was shining and we drank blackcurrant & red gooseberry wine to help matters along.

I crushed 3 lbs blackcurrants on Monday evening, 7 July. I boiled 3 lbs sugar dissolved in 6 pints of water, but did this in two lots as my largest pan had strawberries in it at the time, and poured this over the fruit. The yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase were added on Tuesday morning, 8th July. I put it into its demijohn on 12th July.

My plans changed a little at the WYSO concert in Pontefract when Katie told me her mother had many, many blackcurrants going spare and would I like some to make wine? The thoughts of a two batch experiment rapidly turned into a three batch experiment. I collected 3 lbs of fruit from Kaite and started the second batch on Sunday 20th July. The only variation, other than using a Bordeaux yeast, was that I boiled the 3lbs of sugar in 6 pints of water in one go, and I used a different bucket. I added the yeast and chemicals on Monday 21 July in the morning before work and it went into its demijohn on Friday evening, 25th July, before we disappeared for a week to Rydal.

Blackcurrants from Katie
My third batch was started on Wednesday, 13th August. This time the blackcurrants are two-thirds from Lindsay's garden and one-third from ours, and I am using the same quantities of everything as before. The yeast is a Burgundy variety. I put the yeast, nutrient and pectolase in on Thursday morning and transferred the liquid into its demijohn four days later - Monday 18th August.

Watch this space.

Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy (in that order)
The differences on bottling were subtle and I conclude that yeast only has a slight effect. However, the Burgundy demijohn was the roundest and best. The Champagne was the thinnest, but all were good.

If you want to see how the Bordeaux turned out, click here

Friday 22 August 2014

Cherry Wine - First Bottle (6), 15th August 2014

The appearance of this cherry wine is beautiful. It is entirely clear and a dark bright red without the thickness of a real red wine. The taste is good too, though perhaps not the absolute classic that I had hoped. My first impressions were that it was on the bland side, but three seconds in, the cherry taste hit. Claire described it as being on the right side of a 'cherry lips' flavour.

I drank most of the wine while rewatching the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who in anticipation of its return next week with Peter Capaldi in the title role. It was just as good and the plot made more sense second time round. I eagerly await next week.

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

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Orange Wine - Sixth Bottle (B2), 14th-15th August 2014

Hurrah. The Great British Bake Off is back on the telly. I drank orange wine while watching the second episode, and it is surprising quite how tense watching other people make biscuits can be. I put it down to clever editing and the use of screeching violins. This is the third series that I have watched and I have yet to get bored. I know it is cosy and middle class, but then so am I.

We finished the orange wine on Friday evening before eating. It marked the end of my first week back at work after a fortnight's holiday. I feel like I am suffering from jet lag, which is not what one usually gets after returning from Pembrokeshire. Will orange wine help adjust my body clock? Frankly, I think it unlikely.

Monday 18 August 2014

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Eighth Bottle (A2), 10th-13th August 2014

It took me about nine hours to get home on Sunday. This is around the same time as it would take me to get to the American mid-west. Instead, I was travelling back from Wales. I returned to find the dregs of various bottles remaining. After finishing these, Claire opened a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti, and we had half of that too.

This is an entirely unmemorable bottle of wine - nothing wrong with it and not even particularly bland, just not delicious.

I helped finish the bottle on Wednesday evening while listening to a Dumteedum podcast on which Sooz appeared, comparing The Archers to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Saturday 16 August 2014

Blackcurrant & Red Gooseberry - First Bottle (3), 9-10th August 2014

Claire writes: I'm slightly disappointed with the wine - can't really taste blackcurrant. As I did nothing of note on the 9th, I will leave the rest of this entry to Ben, who can have some wine and then recount traveller's tales.

Ben writes: Well, I'm back from Wales having had a raucous, marvellous time. I have swum in the sea, played music to bats, walked in sunshine and stayed up well past my bedtime. It is, however, lovely to be home.

St Dogmaels Abbey, where I played
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here

Friday 15 August 2014

Elderflower Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A6), 7th-9th August 2014

I shared this bottle with Sue Jones in St Dogmaels, over grilled mackrel caught the day before. It was a lovely meal and elderflower goes well with fish. I had spent the day at a beach near Cwmtydu, some of it being swept up and down by turquoise waves.

The wine did not affect my playing of incidental music to The Merchant of Venice which was performed in the grounds of St Dogmaels Abbey. Nor did it affect my ability to down a quick pint in The White Hart afterwards.

Being on holiday is excellent.

The beach with turquoise waves

Thursday 14 August 2014

Kiwi Fruit Wine - Third Bottle (2), 7th-10th August 2014

Claire writes:

This bottle was threatening to open itself on the day that we returned from Rydal. To my "joy", Ben declared it just about acceptable that I should drink it while he is in Wales. "Yippee". I had been studiously ignoring it, but fancied something cold and a bit fizzy tonight, so bit the bullet. It is bland, inoffensive and tastes nothing like kiwi fruit*.

Watched the fist episode of Bake Off 2014. One of the contestants looks horrifyingly like my PhD supervisor. Gave me quite a turn.

The annual courgette glut has started.

Ian Eperon - the PhD supervisor
A contestant on Great British Bake Off
* She lies

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Blackberry Wine - 18th Bottle (D2), 3rd-5th August 2014

Well hello wine diary! Claire here. Ben is away in St Dogmaels playing in The Abbey Shakespeare and I have control of both diary and choice of wine. And what a good choice this is: clear ruby red, hint of fizz, fruity taste and perfect level of sweetness. An excellent wine and one that I richly deserve because I have just found out that I passed my grade 8 viola with distinction! Well done me.

Monday 11 August 2014

Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (3), 2nd August 2014

Claire drinks beer at Rydal. Therefore on our first night home we traditionally open a bottle of wine. This is despite my weak protest that I have spent the week drinking too much. Tonight Claire asked for a sharp white, and gooseberry fits the bill precisely. It is a good bottle - dry with a hint of fizz. Now I need to start thinking about tomorrow. I am off for a further week of hedonism, but this time in Pembrokeshire and playing in an open-air production of 'The Merchant of Venice'.

Friday 8 August 2014

Julia's Wine - Redcurrant 1996, 1st August 2014

It is the last night of Rydal and therefore an entirely suitable occasion for one of Julia's wines. I think she would be pleased to have made a contribution to the frivolities - some of which involved me spitting hotdogs into a bucket. I made sure that several people had a glass and we toasted Julia, for she is much missed.

The wine was definitely drinkable. It was too sweet for my liking and there was no taste of redcurrant. Leo enjoyed it, though, and compared it to a sherry.

The view from our bedroom window at Rydal Hall

Thursday 7 August 2014

Elderberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (A2), 29th-31st July 2014

It is unusual for a bottle of wine at Rydal to last more than one evening. This bottle was unusual. I opened it on Tuesday night and was generous in sharing it around. Hannah was particularly enthusiastic about it and only just avoided declaring it the finest wine she had ever tasted. A few people said this elderberry was drier than previous vintages and that is both correct and a Good Thing.

I finished the bottle tonight, Thursday, and in between times I have played three symphonies, a couple of concertos, at least one overture and plenty of light music - only some of which has required me to play cymbals.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Kiwi Fruit Wine - Second Bottle (6), 29th July 2014

I like Kiwi Fruit Wine. I am not convinced that other people do.

Two bottles were opened tonight - this and Elderberry, and everyone was very positive about the latter. Mostly they were polite about the Kiwi. No-one except me thought that the kiwi taste was apparent. Jane said that it had similarities to a flat Cava, which was meant well.

It is Rydal week and we have reached the halfway point. Today has had more of the Cesar Franck Symphony than is ideal - it having appeared at both rehearsals. But there have also been two satisfying games of croquet and bread & butter pudding - so it isn't all bad.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fifth Bottle (B3), 27th July 2014

I have brought four bottles of wine with me to Rydal and at Katie's request Prune & Parsnip was the first one opened. She said it tasted like Christmas - which is precisely what both Sally and Robert Clack said about it last year. I shared the bottle round though probably drank a little less than half myself. Everyone was positive about it - Rosie particularly so. Her family owns a soft-fruit farm, I discovered today, so it is definitely worth impressing her with my wine.

The day as a whole has mostly involved Mozart and Brahms. We struggled through the latter's first symphony tonight and it is not a piece I know well. Too many sharps, flats and accidentals for my liking.

Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante