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 31 January 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Second Bottle (A6), 25th January 2015

I have the waltz from Swan Lake bouncing around my head. This will need to be banished before I go to sleep. We have played a concert of ballet music today with the Airedale Symphony Orchestra. Though there is lots of rhythm (mostly in three:four) and not much tune for the bassoon, it is good music. We played in Saltaire and the hall was nearly full, but the concert was too long: two and a half hours. Therefore this bottle of wine was a reward and much needed. We polished it off quickly to an ox-cheek stew with dumplings.

I asked Claire what she thought of this wine and she said that it as fine, but she was not moved to write poetry in celebration.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Tenth Bottle, 24th-25th January 2015

Claire suggested I make a SNAPE* on Saturday and, as it has been some time since I last did one, I agreed. Generally I spend tens of minutes reading through several recipe books. This time I pulled out Delia's Complete Cookery Course and the page virtually fell open at a pork & apple casserole, so that was decided upon. This meant I spent much of Saturday cooking and managed to do this without feeling flustered.

Our wine to accompany was Prune & Parsnip, and it was a good choice. The sweetness and body complemented the creamy apple and onion gravy. We didn't finish the bottle, though, which was partly down to sharing the cider that did not make it into the casserole. This task was saved for Sunday, when my parents were here after an ASO** concert. They each had a sherry-glass full, which was appropriate on the basis of its sherry flavour.

*Something new and possibly exciting

** Airedale Symphony Orchestra

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Orange Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A6), 23rd January 2015

I have, within the last half hour, sneezed loudly eight times in a row. This leaves me feeling light-headed. Or maybe that is the alcohol.

This orange wine is very good indeed. One of its strengths is its colour (a brilliant yellow) and its absolute clarity. The taste is fabulous - and this bottle had an unexplained essence of vanilla.

It has been a typical Friday night at home: I have listened to The Now Show and The Archers. Matt Crawford has been written out, and I am cross about that - he was the best of villains. Claire has cooked a delicious 'The Sick and the Weak', and we have watched QI in an alcoholic fug. This is how Fridays should be.

The best of villains

Monday 26 January 2015

Gooseberry & Elderflower - Eighth Bottle (B1), 21st-23rd January 2015

This bottle was rather less nasty that expected. It came out fizzy and I anticipated mouse champagne. In fact it was dry very slightly musty but otherwise entirely acceptable. I opened it after a WYSO rehearsal, which was mostly spent on the third movement of Schumman's First Symphony. This is soduko in musical form.

Most of the bottle, though, was drunk on Thursday night while I was watching Broadchurch. The Guardian comment boards are full of criticism, and I understand that this series is entirely unrealistic and a disappointment compared to the first. However, there is such a thing as Dramatic Licence. Proper court procedure would make a dull programme. And the cast is consistently good to keep me watching.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Blackberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (B), 18th January 2015

Claire prepared left-over duck in a marinade of roast garlic, chipotle chillies, balsamic vinegar and cumin seeds, and it was delicious. The meal definitely warranted a bottle of fizzy blackberry wine.

Earlier in the day we had visited Steph Black and Claire chose a beautiful rounded vase as a late birthday present. It has a brittle, black textured exterior which contrasts with a duck egg blue interior that glows in natural light.

I rounded off the day with a near-two hour conversation with Quin. Apparently it is a bit nippy in Nebraska.

All in all, a Good Day.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Elderberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (A6), 17th January 2015

Claire went Waitrose-wards on Friday and came back with a duck for £8. She thinks that they probably had a job-lot to sell. Therefore, Saturday was our alternative to a Sunday Roast, and required something fruity, heavy and red. Elderberry was the only possible flavour and went perfectly. Duck, I think is my favourite meat and we opened a jar of gooseberry ketchup to go with it.

After the meal Claire retired to bed to read and I watched  Mapp & Lucia, which is a wonderful adaptation of the book. Miranda Richardson is superb.

Claire writes: The last glass was distinctly on the lumpy and chewy side.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Clementine Wine - The Making Of ...

Oh my darling.

Contemplating a new flavour
I had not planned this flavour for January, or at all. It was really ugli fruit that I was after, but my efforts to locate these last week drew a blank. Nowhere in the market sold them, and there were none in the Carribean supermarket that used to be the Fforde Green Pub. I knew that I wanted to start my wine today, 10th January, so was prepared to buy whatever Noshis was selling cheap. My default was either Prune & Parsnip or Orange, but I had hoped that they would have boxes of over-ripe tomatoes for a couple of pounds. When I got there this morning the tomatoes were regular price and the parsnips looked manky. However, Noshis was selling clementines at 15 for £1. Not having made Clementine Wine before, and January being a month for experimentation, I bought thirty, five of which have made it into the fruit bowl. The wine may be vastly similar to Orange but I may be surprised.

Recipes on the internet say that I should use the zest of five clementines, so I made a half-arsed attempt at this. They also say that I should use 10 valencia oranges, and I ignored this entirely.

I peeled 25 clementines and split these into segments (of which there were 223, or was it 228?). I removed the worst of the pith, but mostly didn't bother, and cut each segment in half with scissors. These went into my bucket and I gave them a good mash. I added 2½ lbs sugar and 6½ pints of boiling water.

Next morning, 11 January, I added the yeast (a sauterne variety) and a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin.

I have put this into its demijohn a day earlier than normal, on 14th January, but the fermentation seemed to be slowing down. The first demijohn chosen for the job cracked and broke during the sterilisation process. When I put in the not-quite-boiling water there was a distant whip-like noise and I knew immediately what had happened. It was a very neat break, though. Oh well. I have plenty of spares in the attic.

The liquid went into the replacement demijohn after a WYSO rehearsal (we have started on Mendelssohn's violin concerto) and is dull yellow in colour. The small taste I got was not promising and I fear that this experiment will be unsuccessful.

This was my first attempt to take a photo of the wine in its demijohn
If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here

Thursday 15 January 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (B4), 11th January 2015

Claire is recovering from a heavy cold and is struggling to taste things properly. This provided the ideal opportunity to have a bottle of Nasty Redcurrant. In fact the nastiness has disappeared and I declare this wine Quite Good. If you concentrate, there is still a hint of mustiness on the first sip, but otherwise it has a sharp, clear taste and the flavour is redeemed.

I have spent the day doing very little - writing an article for Wine Making Talk (which you can read if you click here) and reading The Witch of Exmoor by Margaret Drabble. A lazy Sunday can be a wonderful thing.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Lemon & Lime Wine - First Bottle (2), 10th-11th January 2015

I put this bottle in the fridge three days before it was opened. My suspicions were that Lemon & Lime Wine needs to be as cold as possible for full enjoyment. Certainly the icy temperature helped. The wine is too sweet to be entirely successful but some sweetness is required. Without, it would taste too much like a bathroom detergent. In fact, the wine was okay and was a particularly good remedy when I ate a chilli-stuffed olive, which was hotter than anticipated. The sharp, cold lemon flavour neutralised the heat. It was also a fine accompaniment to the pissaladiere I made (basically a non-cheese pizza), and that is down to the anchovies.

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

Friday 9 January 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Seventh Bottle (B4), 3rd-4th January 2015

Having had a massively alcoholic fortnight, I was adamant that I would have several days without a drink. I managed one. It was nearly two, in that I wouldn't have opened a bottle unless asked by Claire, and when I did I only had one glass (and it was a Saturday!). However, tonight I have reverted to type and am feeling a bit woozy. New Year's resolutions are there to be broken, and I didn't make any in the first place.

The rhubarb wine was pleasant enough, but needed a proper chilling before opening.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Seventh Bottle (A1), 1st January 2015

The first bottle of the year. And a good one at that. This rose petal was smooth and dry and fragrant. I brought it to Cambridge with me because I knew it was one of Rachel's favourites. Earlier in the day we had walked 5 miles around the Wimpole Estate; Wimpole being a National Trust stately home. The main feature of the walk was thick, wet mud causing much slipping and precarious footwork. We needed plenty to drink as a reward. I think I will take a few days off the booze.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Cherry Wine - Third Bottle (2), 31st December 2014

This was a splendid bottle of wine - one of the best I have made. I can't understand why it was different to the other two described elsewhere on this blog. There was more depth, a clearer cherry flavour and it was a whole, rounded taste. It was one of our New Year's Eve bottles and we spent this in Cambridge at Duncan's. The evening was lovely: full of food, laughter and alcohol. Between the five of us we got through four bottles plus an initial cocktail. It was certainly enough to stun me. Claire went to bed first, but she had the excuse of suffering from the initial stages of a cold (presumably donated by me). I followed soon after. Neither of us made the midnight chimes.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Ninth Bottle (A6), 29th-30th December 2014

Our Book Group Winter Classic this year is Brideshead Revisited and I spent much of Monday and Tuesday reading it. It is one of those books where the writing forces the reader to slow down. There is danger and decadence bubbling away close to the surface and I find neither Charles nor Sebastian sympathetic characters. It has been a good way to spend this oddly dead time between Christmas and New Year.

We did not drink the full bottle on Monday: by 9:30 I felt washed out and went to bed. This left a large glass each on Tuesday, during which I turned the unkempt stubble I have been nurturing for a week into a goattee for Claire. I always quite like my annual beard when first grown, but tire of it within days.

Monday 5 January 2015

Orange Wine - Tenth Bottle (B1), 26th December 2014

I did not feel like being sociable on Boxing Day. My slight cold has turned into something rather heavier which includes a general feeling of lethargy. On second thoughts, maybe that is just standard for post-Christmas. However, I battled like the brave little soldier I am and spent the evening at Andrew's with Claire and Sooz. The Taylor siblings have a rare and welcome cameraderie about them - and each one is eccentric in their own way. I can't imagine a better family to have married into.

Anyway, this bottle of orange was the second of the night. Andrew preferred the pineapple and Sooz remained silent. She must have thought them both equally delicious.

The only tedious part of the evening was blowing up the double air mattress - a job Claire and I shared.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Pineapple Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 26th December 2014

I took this bottle up to Newcastle with me and opened it at Andrew's, where we spent Boxing Day Night. The pineapple is distinctive and in fact I think the wine has improved for it having been left for seven months. I thought that there was an initial bitter, unpleasant taste but that dissipated immediately.

As with Boxing Day two years ago at Andrew's, Sooz brought Ticket to Ride, an entertaining board game. I came last again, but at least this year did not get steamingly drunk and will not have to go to the doctors in six weeks' time on account of continual dizziness.

Saturday 3 January 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - First Bottle (A1), 25th December 2014

This is one of my better vintages of Christmas Tutti Fruti, and I put that down to the rose petals. It is a little too dry but has a greater depth than last year's version.

I shared the bottle out around the room and it was nearly finished by the time we sat down to eat. There were eight of us - all the Taylors, Sam and Hannah. Hannah had spent the day at work - being the only house-visiting GP for the area from northern Newcastle to Berwick. It was a busy time and of all of us, she deserved the slap-up meal and a drink the most.

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

Friday 2 January 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Final Bottle (B1), 25th December 2014

It was a lovely Christmas this year, despite the beginnings of a cold. Part of the morning was spent at St Mary's Lighthouse, north of Whitley Bay. The sun was low, giving the rocks and cliffs a golden hue. Suitably for the day, we saw three ships. Claire had a happy time looking for shells amongst the rock pools whilst Sooz and I reflected on the year just gone and projected on the year to come.

I opened this bottle shortly before six at the same time as I opened the first of Christmas Tutti Fruti 2013. The general opinion was that this one was the inferior. Certainly they were very different in flavour and depth. Andrew said that this one had its taste frequency at both ends of the spectrum but with little in the middle. It is an odd concept - taste on a Normal Distribution curve - but I think I can see what he is getting at. Anyway, Merry Christmas!