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 31 December 2014

Strawberry Wine - Third Bottle (6), 24th December 2014

A Christmas Eve bottle of wine round at 3 The Alders. It felt deserved. Despite the office closing on the 23rd, I had an exceptionally busy morning, trying to get two houses sold before New Year. On the rare occasion I was not on the phone, I was sending e-mails. But I think I may have managed it. The drive up to Newcastle felt like a holiday as a result - and the traffic was far quieter than expected.

The wine was appreciated by all - strawberry is definitely one of the best.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2014 - The Making Of ...

I can take or leave Christmas these days. Days off work, spending time with family, feasting and drinking are all good points. Exchange of gifts and having to be in a jolly mood from early December are rubbish. However, for me over recent years, Christmas begins with carrolling around Moortown with the Wrights. It is the only time of the year that I sing in public, and Christmas carols take me back to my childhood. The tunes are simple and evocative, the lyrics are often unintentionally hilarious. Fourth verse of We Three Kings anyone? How about abhoring not the Virgin's womb?

Anyway, after singing heartily in North Leeds on 22nd December, I came home to measure fruit. This year I have 8 lbs 14 oz of ingredients plus 2 satsumas. This is made up of 1¼ oz rosehips, 9 oz sloes, 14¾ oz apples, 1 lb 1 oz gooseberries (mostly green), 10 oz gooseberries (entirely red), 1 lb 14½ oz blackberries, 2 lb 5 oz blackcurrants, 1 lb 1¾ oz elderberries and 4¾ oz rose petals.

I let it all defrost overnight, during which I got exceptionally cross with Aggie for her unearthly mewing, and the next day, which was my last day in the office until 5 January.

On the evening of 23 December I boiled 12 pints water and poured this over the mashed fruit. I added 6 lbs sugar. Claire kept me company in the kitchen, crocheting bladder tumours while I crashed about, mostly dropping things and saying "oops". It has been a lovely evening and we have spent the last half hour finishing the Christmas jigsaw in a vaguely competitive manner.

The Christmas Jigsaw
I put the yeast and a teaspoon and a bit each of nutrient and pectolase on Christmas Eve morning and spent the next few hours working more dilligently than befits one on holiday. The contents of the bucket were given a stir and then left until we came back from Newcastle on Saturday afternoon, when it got another stir.

The mixture fermenting
I put the liquid into its two demijohns on Monday afternoon, 29 December, while suffering from a heavy cold. I made sure that my sneezes and hacking coughs were always directed away from the wine. It is currently an attractive dark purple and the taste I took at the end was encouragingly fruity.

NB - This is my 700th post since I started the blog in April 2011.

NB2 - If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here

Monday 29 December 2014

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Eleventh Bottle (A6), 23rd December 2014

This bottle was opened and drunk mostly so that we can drink the final bottle on Christmas Day. As excuses go for having a bottle of wine, that is one of the worst. In fact, it was a suitable flavour because I spent the evening making Christmas Tutti Fruti 2014. It was a lovely evening too. I am officially on holiday (though unofficially still have to work to get two house sales through before 31 December) and that is always a joy. Claire kept me company as I mashed fruit and boiled water and threw sugar all round the kitchen, drinking this bottle. I have complained in the past that this wine is a bit thin, but I think this bottle was fine. Maybe my mood affects taste.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Blackberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (A4), 21st December 2014

I took this bottle to Ros's for Sunday lunch. At the Lehany's 'Lunch' is a fluid concept. We started eating shortly before six.

This blackberry wine was excellent, but was far from the only bottle drunk in the evening. As a consequence, I have spent all of today (Monday) feeling exhausted and wondering if I am coming down with something. It was a lovely night, though, full of venison casserole, cheese and entertaining conversation.

Saturday 27 December 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Eighth Bottle (C2), 20th December 2014

It must nearly be Christmas: we have started the annual jigsaw puzzle. In past years this has been a gift from Julia. This year it is from Mom. The image is Van Eyck's Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele, the original of which we saw in Bruges and is an amazing piece of art.

There is something very companionable about working quietly on a jigsaw together, drinking crab apple wine on a Saturday night. Rock and roll, however, it demonstrably is not.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Rhubarb Wine - Sixth Bottle (A5), 14th-18th December 2014

I have rediscovered my joy of reading. Or possibly I have just read three or four books in a row which I have found gripping, well-written and which deal with important issues. Or maybe I'm getting bored of arsing around on the internet. Anyway, while drinking this bottle mostly on Sunday night I was reading Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which is delightful with an interesting concept of rebirth and doing things both differently and better. Reading on this occasion, though, was mostly Christmas card displacement therapy. By the time I had finished the bottle, however, the Christmas cards were done. Hoorah. I still have yet to buy a single present. Bah Humbug.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Blackcurrant & Red Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (5), 13th December 2014

This bottle was our post-WYSO concert celebratory drink. It wasn't very nice. Too sharp and dry. The fruit is distinctive, though. I may add sugar to the next bottle. Anne was here and claimed she enjoyed her glass, but I suspect politeness.

The concert went well - Amy's bassoon concerto was splendid, but I split my G# in the big bassoon moment in the Brahms. Curses.

The evening almost started very badly indeed. Nick, the conductor, got lost when walking from our house to the venue. I went looking for him in a panic, couldn't find him, returned to the church and discovered that he had found his way after all. Phew.

Our conductor is missing ...

Saturday 20 December 2014

Elderflower Wine - Fourth Bottle (B4), 11th-13th December 2014

I started this bottle on Thursday night while watching The Missing  on i-player. It has been a terrific, if bleak, series so far and there is only one episode to go. Claire was out playing string quartets and I know that elderflower is not her favourite flavour.

The second half of the bottle was drunk after our WYSO concert, mostly because my mother found the Blackcurrant & Red Gooseberry far too dry. She pulled a comic face and fell on the Elderflower eagerly. David (Anne's new fellow) helped empty the bottle, and also preferred it.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Elderberry Wine - Third Bottle (B3), 7th December 2014

Rory came round on Sunday night for a meal. I made sure he wasn't a vegetarian and we fed him a steamed ox-cheek pudding. Claire is so good at cooking and I regularly get reminded of how lucky I am in this regard. She made dessert too - a citrus pudding cooked in its own juices. Lots of stodge, and all of it delicious. The wine was also good - its usual red and deep self. It was a lovely evening, and I think a relief for Rory to escape sharing his building with students who know nothing except how to party into the early hours.

Saturday 13 December 2014

Crab Apple Wine - Seventh Bottle (B5), 6th December 2014 (ish)

This is the second bottle in this batch that I have given away. I must be getting generous in my middle age.

The fence separating our drive from number 16 has been looking past its first flush of youth for several years. Within a week of James and Anna moving out, bit started to fall off - the wood was rotting away. Our new neighbours, Chris and Jo, are more practical than us and less inclined to leave things undone. So they have built a new fence and we have watched. In thanks I paid them half the cost (£50) and gave them this bottle.

The fence in all its glory

Thursday 11 December 2014

Redcurrant Wine - Third Bottle (B3), 5th-6th December 2014

Well, this was a surprise. I opened a bottle of redcurrant on Friday night because there was nothing to celebrate and I have to get rid of the remaining ten bottles somehow. Turns out that this was unexpectedly not nasty. The rank mustiness has gone (pretty much) and this is entirely drinkable. It was not a happy bottle, however. I was sat on the sofa, miserable and cold, and Claire asked me if I was alright. For no reason I started to cry. I wasn't alright at all, but I don't know why. Nothing is wrong in my life. Just a little low, I suppose.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Eighth Bottle (A5), 30th November 2014

Today has been a splendid day (apart from a brief trip to Sainsburys). For the first time in an age - probably three to four years - Claire and I went for a Sunday walk, just for the hell of it. We went five and a half miles from Horsforth via Cragg Woods to Rawdon and back, and it was marvellous. Even walking through copious amounts of mud and discovering my boots leaked. There were some ridiculously posh houses along the way - at least one with mad Victorian turrets.

This bottle of Prune & Parsnip was our reward, but also a reward for writing programme notes for the WYSO concert on 13th December. I spent longer than ideal at the computer trying my best not to copy and paste from Wikipedia.

The wine was as good as ever - sweet and rich and golden.

Monday 8 December 2014

Rhubarb & Elderflower Wine - Second Bottle (5), 29th November 2014

I continue to be very pleased with this flavour. The clarity and colour are excellent, and its taste is pleasant and unusual. Elderflower is there but does not dominate and the rhubarb gives it a depth.

We drank most of the bottle while watching Food pornography - Nigel Slater's exploration of cake. There were slow motion shots of egg yolks falling from their shells, flour being invaded by lumps of butter, and batter dripping from its whisk. My saliva glands were working overtime. It was also an entertaining and informative programme, but really I was there for loving shots of cake.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (1), 27th November 2014

Thanksgiving is one of the many reasons that I am pleased to be half American. Any festival that is based around food ticks my boxes. This year it was Richard and Linda's turn to host and Claire's to make the pumpkin pie. My contribution was a bottle of 'Crabapple & Strawberry' - this being the closest to what I imagine cranberry wine would resemble.

There were seven of us round the dinner table: Andrew is visiting from Newcastle, and we were joined by Pippa and Jackie. It was a lovely evening, though I had to battle my falling eyelids. The wine was good - bone dry yet fruity and clear. It deserves its position as a Regular.

How the wine looks in its bottle
If you want to see how this wine was made, click here

Saturday 6 December 2014

Blackberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (C4), 23rd-25th November 2014

It was steak & kidney pudding on Sunday night, and therefore a bottle of red was in order. On my rationing system, and bearing in mind that the Wine Party has skewed things, this was the only red available. It did its job admirably, however, and there was still a glass over when we went to bed. Claire snaffled this on Tuesday night while I was out playing quintets round at Madeleine's. She has not slept well for about a fortnight, but after this glass slept soundly until the morning. I, however, was kept awake by cats and worrying about insurance.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Orange Wine - Ninth Bottle (A1), 22nd-26th November 2014

Just before I opened this bottle I bottled my 2014 orange wine. This meant I got a direct taste comparison, and I don't think I have done that before. Orange wine that has had a year and a half to mature has a richer, deeper taste than that started only eight months ago. This bottle is moving closer to sherry, but has lost none of its orange flavour.

The abundance of orange wine meant that there was still some left on Wednesday, when we returned from WYSO. Amy played the Weber bassoon concerto and was fabulous. I love this piece - it is so much more fun, and showy, than the Mozart and I await the concert eagerly.

Monday 1 December 2014

Elderberry Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 18th-21st November 2014

Claire continues to suffer from office politics, quite literally, at work. It looks like there is nothing that she can do to avoid being moved into an entirely unsuitable office with her current one being turned into a store cupboard. Hence opening a bottle of elderberry on Tuesday night in an attempt to make things better.

This wine had a metal taste that I did not notice in the previous bottle, but it was dark and rich and good all the same. The second half of the bottle was drunk by Claire on Thursday and Friday whilst I was out playing trios with Pat & Peter, and drinking more beer than was sensible with Matthew respectively.