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.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Elderflower Wine - Fifth Bottle (A1), 20th-21st February 2015

This bottle did for both Friday and Saturday, which suggests temperance. An argument might be made in that direction for Saturday, but on Friday night I also had two pints at Derek's leaving do, a glass of crab apple and I finished my birthday whisky (which was the wee-est of drams). Therefore, sticking to the elderflower after Music Club on Saturday (where a mezzo singing Brahms was the highlight) was sensible.

Earlier in the day we went to look at a house: a large bungalow north of Street Lane. It was fine, but not "us". Interesting to see other houses, though, and we are early in the search.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Tenth Bottle (A1), 19th-20th February 2015

Crab apple wine is so much better than plain apple wine. It is fuller with a more interesting, more apple-y taste.

Claire came home late on Thursday from a lecture about sciency medical things that I don't understand and asked if I had opened a bottle. I hadn't, but took little persuasion. We drank a glass to the tortilla I had made, and then another one to an entirely satisfactory episode of The Great British Comic Relief Bake Off (snappy title). I then returned to bed to plough on with The Minaturist which I am not enjoying. I do not believe in any of the characters and find the whole thing irritating rather than intriguing. Book Group should be fun.

Monday 23 February 2015

Apple Wine - Third Bottle (2), 15th-18th February 2015

Claire suggested I surprise her by opening something nasty, so I picked this and made her guess the flavour. Other than the verdict of "slightly composty" she drew a blank. Even knowing it is apple wine, it is difficult to discern the apple taste, though I found this bottle entirely unobjectionable.

On Monday I discovered that I am fond of the cats after all, or at least of Stanley. He was ill - lethargic and uninterested in food - even tuna. He is over 15, and I worried that the time had come for the Big Sleep. I will miss him when that moment arrives. But on Tuesday he was back to his irritating yet newly endearing old self.


Sunday 22 February 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Eighth Bottle (B2), 14th February 2015

What other bottle could I have drunk on Valentine's Day? For a day dedicated to lovers and romance, its perfumed flavour was entirely suitable.

We are in York and by happy coincidence, so are Chris, Rachael, Paul and Myles. By the time the bottle was finished, Myles was in bed and Rachael and Paul had left for a rare romantic meal. My baby-sitting duties consisted of drinking more wine than was good for me and going upstairs to check on a sleeping two-year-old about ten minutes before his parents returned.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Blackberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (A2), 12th-13th February 2015

Claire is enjoying her job again, now the office debacle has resolved itself. Her experiments are going well, she feels appreciated and she comes home enthused. Thursday seemd to be a particularly good day so we opened a bottle of blackberry wine to drink with a root vegetable stew (which sounds like the food of Russian peasants). Claire thought this wine too dry and added sugar, but she has a cold and that might affect her taste buds. I thought it was its usual fruity self.

We finished the bottle on Friday - a night where I came home from work exhausted and failed to perk up. I was in bed by eight thirty - and even for me that is pathetic.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - First Bottle (A3), 8th-11th February 2015

After I had bottled and shared round my rose petal wine, it was decided that I should open another bottle. Prune & Parsnip was an ideal choice - I had spent much of the evening making 2015's batch.

This wine is remarkably consistent: it always has the same dark golden colour and a sweet sherry taste. Both of these are Good Things.

After Sunday, we spent the next three days drinking a little at a time. On Wednesday, we drank the last of the wine after WYSO, where we played Mendelssohn's violin concerto - a glorious piece of music. The soloist came, and he is the same man who played the Beethoven with us in 2013. The Mendelssohn has been on my internal jukebox ever since.

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

Monday 16 February 2015

Julia's Wines - Elderflower 1993, 7th February 2015

Not one of Julia's best. This wine was drinkable but was thin and not very interesting. The elderflower taste was hardly there. I apologised to Julia (in absentia) as I reached for the Prosecco instead. The evening as a whole was fantastic, though. Claire cooked many curries and we feasted with Ros, Emma, Christian and Kate. There was much laughter, plenty to drink and we ended the night playing Ex Libris. Which I won convincingly (he said, smugly). Claire and I did not get to bed until well past midnight, and that never happens. We already setting dates for the next get together.

Saturday 14 February 2015

Prune & Parsnip 2015 - The Making Of ...

If it's February, it must be Prune & Parsnip.

We (and I use 'we' in the broadest sense here; Claire is not particularly keen) are looking for a new house, and on Saturday 7th February I made the psychological leap and went to look at one. It was okay, but no more than, and therefore not the one for us. Immediately afterwards I went to buy parsnips in Harehills - which was far more within my comfort zone.

The rest of Saturday was taken up with getting the house ready for a Feast. Cleaning and Tidying were the priority, so my four pounds of parsnips waited patiently in the coal shed before being turned into wine today, Sunday 8th February. First of all, though, I had to recover from a hangover following the Feast, and go on a six mile walk round Rawdon and Yeadon with Claire, Rachel and Duncan. It was a cold walk with some fabulous views of the open countryside to the north west of Leeds, and the perfect antidote to the previous evening's indulgence.

Back at home, after bottling my rose-petal wine, I chopped the parsnips into small pieces and boiled these in two lots, each covered in 8 pints of water (so 16 pints in total). The first lot got twenty minutes of boiling and the second got half an hour. I poured the water into my bucket, using a collander to catch the parsnips, and threw these out. The bucket already contained 1 lb (actually 500 grams) of prunes, each cut in half, and 5-and-a-half pounds of sugar. Next morning I added the yeast, a teaspoon and a half of nutrient and a teaspoon of pectolase.

I was going to put this into its demijohns on Friday evening, but was desperately tired. I ended up going to bed at half past eight, and I think I was asleep by nine. Instead, I transferred the liquid on Saturday morning, 14th February - and I only got nascent prune and parsnip wine down my shirt front and all over the kitchen the once. It is worth remembering that my sieve doesn't quite balance when forming the diameter of my bucket.

The ingredients fermenting
The wine is paler than in past years, which means it is an attactive orange colour rather than a dingy brown.

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

Friday 13 February 2015

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 7th February 2015

I have just counted up. We got through seven bottles last night. Between six of us. No wonder my head is pounding. This Crab Apple & Strawberry was one of the early ones and the only one of mine. The occasion was a Feast for Julia - or at least for six of those who miss her. As well as us two, there was Ros, Emma, Christian and Katie.

We drank this bottle to the starters, which were puris filled with spicy potatoes and tamarind sauce, and a savoury cake made with yoghurt and gram flour, topped with chillies, coriander and mustard seeds. This was a tantalising hint for the food to come.

The crab apple & strawberry was a good bottle - dry and interesting, and I was gratified to see the guests having a second glass.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Eighth Bottle (A1), 5th-7th February 2015

I had three days without alcohol and then ruined everything on Thursday by drinking nearly half a bottle of rhubarb wine. I mistimed the haggis, and as poor excuses go that is one of the worst. But it meant that I had a glass during the additional cooking time (haggises require one hour, not half as I had thought) as well as with the meal. Then half a glass settling down to watch Broadchurch.

We finished this bottle on Saturday, just before Katie and Christian were due to arrive for a Feast. There were still Things To Do and only 15 minutes in which to do them. A swift glass of rhubarb could only help.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 1st February 2015

I enjoyed this bottle of wine. The blackcurrant flavour was sharp and unsubtle, but sometimes that is what I want. We drank it to a delicious pork casserole retrieved from the freezer.

Much of the day had been spent playing music in Wakefield with two youth orchestras. The idea was that WYSO would show the under-18s that adults played music for fun too. And it was fun - we played Mars, part of the Firebird and In the Hall of the Mountain King. The bassoonist next to me was ten and pretty much held her own. She has a bright future ahead.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Strawberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (3), 31st January 2015

Strawberry wine is Richard's favourite. Therefore this was the obvious choice to take for an evening at Richard & Linda's. I had my one glass with the starter: slices of tomato, basil and home-made mozarella with olive oil and pesto. Our main course was baked salmon with a parmesan crust, a green salad and a dish of mushrooms and noodles with a mashed green chilli garnish. All of it was delightful. Just in case we had not eaten enough, Richard presented an orange and honey sponge, some home-made vanilla and pecan icecream and a toffee sauce. It was an excellent evening.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Ninth Bottle (C6), 27th-30th January 2015

I was out in Ilkley playing wind quintets when this bottle was opened, and out in Leeds drinking too much beer when it was finished. Between times I had one glass by mistake. Claire asked me on Wednesday night "Would you like ...?" and I said "Yes Please," before hearing the question. I had anticipated "... me to leave the computer on?" but instead received a glass of crab apple wine. Which was a result.

On Friday night while Claire was drinking the rest, I was catching up with old Brooke North colleagues. It was a lovely evening - particularly seeing Robert, who I worked closely with for 8 years and have probably not seen eight times since 2005. But I did have too much beer.