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.

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (A2), 25th-27th March 2015

After a couple of bottles of Redcurrant that were entirely drinkable, this bottle reverted to mustiness. It was not dreadful, but I would have sent it back had it been served in a restaurant. I poured a large glass for each of us following WYSO, which was entirely taken up with Mendelssohn. Claire had a good portion last night whilst I was playing trios with Pat & Peter. Then I pretty much finished the bottle tonight, leaving the chewy bits at the bottom, while listening to the News Quiz. All in all, an entirely unremarkable bottle of wine.

(NB - I have written some dull posts in my time, but I think that is the dullest. Many apologies.)

Sunday 29 March 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Second Bottle (B1), 21st-22nd March 2015

Claire handed me a glass of Prune & Parsnip wine the instant I stepped through the door on Saturday night. Music Club had overrun and the first half had been the dreadful, dreadful orchestra, so my need was great. We then shared the bottle in bed, discussing 20 Bentcliffe Drive, which we had visited for a second time earlier in the day. It was a proper, serious discussion, helped along by the wine, starting with what we liked about the house (all the unchangeables), moving onto what we didn't like (all the things that can be changed) and then whether to make an offer and what offer to make. I felt like a proper adult, and we both came to the conclusion that this was the house for us. It led to a restless night.

Friday 27 March 2015

Blackberry Wine - 21st Bottle (C5), 20th-21st March 2015

What a fabulous bottle of wine. This reminds me why blackberry is my favourite flavour. The first mouthful was pure, sweet fruit. I opened it after an excellent day with my colleagues, spent in a minibus driving round West and North Yorkshire looking at sites we might buy. There were bacon sandwiches and a partial solar eclipse thrown in too. The cloud lifted briefly for the latter and, ignoring all warnings, I looked directly at the Sun to no ill effect.

Claire finished the bottle while I was at Music Club playing in a god-awful orchestra, murdering light music. The second half was much better, but went on too long.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Elderflower Wine - Sixth Bottle (B2), 18th-19th March 2015

This bottle began life as a post-WYSO snifter. It is our concert in a week and a bit, and Wednesday was our last go through Schumann's First Symphony before the day. It was alright - which also serves as a description of this eldeflower. Floral, fragrant, a teensy bit bland.

We finished the bottle on Thursday. I spent some of the evening helping Rory move out of his student digs into a private (but still very studenty) flat. He has been plagued by undergraduates since September, with their continual partying, and it has affected both his work and health. The move only took two car-loads, and then we went to the Chemic to drink beer and watch a man play with his dog.

Monday 23 March 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Third Bottle (A4), 15th-17th March 2015

Having had more than plenty to drink on Saturday night, I was very nearly in two minds about opening a bottle on Sunday. I chose Christmas Tutti Fruti as one that is Fine but short of Delicious, and we did not finish it. The afternoon had been taken up by an Airedale rehearsal. Playing the bassoon when deaf in one ear is a strange and distressing event. It was difficult to know whether I was in tune and my tone felt tinny. Not an experience that I recommend. Happily my doctor's appointment was Tuesday and the wax came out. I produced something the size of a pea from both ears and immediately felt as if I had bionic hearing. Tuesday night saw the bottle finished in celebration.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Elderberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (A-something), 14th March 2015

This bottle sat unopened on Christian and Kate's mantelpiece, and is probably still there. I brought it to the Feast in Hebden Bridge, but more wine would have been a mistake. I have written in my post below about that, though, and the other exciting thing about Saturday is that we may have seen a house to buy. It is on Bentcliffe Drive, is a little bit ugly in an interesting, quirky way, has a large(ish) blank canvas garden and feels like it might be right. Now I can expect several nights of interrupted sleep as I feel just a little bit excited.

Friday 20 March 2015

Julia's Wine - Redcurrant 1995, 14th March 2015

This was a thin, sherry-like wine, and more than that I cannot remember. Oh, there were large lumps in the bottle, which meant the wine was not finished. The reason that I struggle to remember is that we were having a Feast at Christian and Kate's, and between us had drunk far too much wine already. Certainly the six of us had polished off three bottles of Prosecco before the starter. It was a wonderful evening with fabulous food and great company. However, it all remains a bit of a blur.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Lemon & Lime Wine - Second Bottle (5), 13th March 2015

One of life's great pleasures is spending Friday nights at home, sinking slowly into inebriation with my wife. It is not an unusual experience, and objectively probably not interesting either. But right here, right now, it is just lovely. I have known Claire for nearly 20 years and have never stopped loving her. And I'm not sure what it is about lemon & lime wine that is making me all gushy. But I have a charmed life, and the greatest charm of all is the woman I married. That is all.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Ninth Bottle (B5), 12th March 2015

Thursday nights are not generally nights to open and finish a bottle of wine. All I can say is "whoops". Both of us felt like we needed it. Claire had come back from the dentist with a new filling and a numb mouth. I am being plagued by ear-wax. My left ear has not been working since Monday and it is becoming both tedious and uncomfortable. So an entire bottle of wine it was, and quite a good one too. Definitely "mid-week" ranking, but at the top end of that spectrum.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B3), 8th March 2015

I chose Crab Apple to drink with roast pork, and it was an excellent choice. Pork and apple are a classic combination. I think it is something to do with the sharp sweetness of the apple compared to the moist, slightly fatty meat. Anyway, it slipped down very nicely and I am currently drinking bush tea in an attempt to sober up.

We have had another lazy, lovely Sunday - again visiting the tip with a vast amount of bottles and broken electrical things, previously dumped in the attic. I spent some of the afternoon in the garden moving gooseberry bushes and clearing the front patio of moss. I will ache tomorrow.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Rhubarb and Elderflower Wine - Third Bottle (1), 7th March 2015

This was a post-Music Club bottle, and one that I needed. Madeleine's quintet performed the first and second movement of the Taffanel (though not necessarily in that order) and we were okay. Claire says that we were more than that, but I am a perfectionist, and right now I can only remember the wrong notes, the mis-taken breaths and the places where I did not feel in control. The wine has helped and things are not currently in quite so much focus.

                                                  and his wind quintet

Monday 9 March 2015

Gooseberry & Elderflower Wine - Ninth Bottle (A1), 4th-6th March 2015

The first couple of glasses from this bottle, whilst the wine was still a clear golden colour, were absolutely fine. The flavour was maybe a little full-on, but it was entirely acceptable. As the bottle progressed, however, the wine became murky and brown, and the final glass after Book Group on Friday night cause a headache on Saturday morning.

Book Group was lots of fun. We were discussing The Minaturist by Jessie Burton and about half of us liked it. I was in the other half. The evening ended with me inadvertently being extremely insulting to Helen. She tells a great story, and last night it was about how her bank card was frozen for Unusual Activity, which mostly consisted of her buying a tea cake and Hello magazine at Leicester Forest East. I suggested that she contact You and Yours as they often run stories on "slightly interesting ancecdotes". Oops.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Orange Wine 2015 - The Making Of ...

It is St David's Day, and Radio 3 has mostly been playing things with Bryn Terfel singing. I know this because I have been spending a great deal of time in the kitchen getting sticky.

As with many previous years, the beginning of March coincides with Orange Wine. This year, though, I bought my oranges on the last day of February. Irritatingly, Noshis were selling them at their most expensive - five for a pound. I had hoped for six. This means that I have spent 80p more in getting 24 oranges than I had wanted, and that works out at nearly seven pence a bottle. All I can say is that I hope this orange wine is particularly good.

I was quite proud of this pyramid, but Aggie was disdainful
I started this wine mid-afternoon on 1st March by thinly peeling 12 of the oranges while listening to a Dum-Tee-Dum podcast. It is a dull job, and having something entertaining in the background helps. This year I have been almost entirely successful in avoiding the pith. The peel is in a bowl covered in two pints of boiling water and clingfilm.

Between my eighth and ninth oranges, Anne Hignell dropped in and we had a very pleasant hour and a half catching up with her and getting news of the extended family. I then squeezed all oranges, getting about 3½ pints of juice. This went into the bucket, along with 5½ lbs sugar, 9 pints of cold water, the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient. The next day, after work, I poured in the water that had been covering the peel and threw the peel away.

Orange peel in water, after 24 hours

Friday would have been the ideal time to put this in its demijohns, but I wouldn't have had time because I was walking home from work and it was Book Group. So I did this on Thursday 5th March. It was quick work, taking about 15 minutes. I could have put in an extra half pint of water and will top up the demijohns when the fermentation has slowed. In the meantime, they are a violent yellow.

If you want a recipe, set out in a more organised fashion than my witterings above, click here

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

Saturday 7 March 2015

Orange Wine - First Bottle (A6), 1st March 2015

Much of today has been taken up with making orange wine, so the first bottle of last year's vintage was appropriate. It has a more subtle orange flavour than previous years, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There is still an underlying hint of marmalade, but this is close to a dry white wine and I am pleased with the result.

Other than making orange wine, I have bottled my strawberry, been to the tip and spent a couple of hours with Anne, who came round for a cup of tea and a gossip. It has been a lovely, lazy Sunday and now I must sleep.

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

Friday 6 March 2015

Blackcurrant & Red Gooseberry Wine - Third Bottle (4), 28th February 2015

Our house-hunting has started in earnest. We looked at two today: a 1930's semi in Oakwood and a Victorian stone-built former bookshop in Headingley. The latter was extremely tempting: it even had a large cellar ideal for wine storage. But the garden was too shady and had a right of way running through it. And it sounded like there might be problems with the neighbours. I loved the house though, and am rejecting it with reluctance.

We drank this bottle by way of commiseration. It was a little dry and a bit thin, but far from my worst, and we have had a jolly evening on the strength of it.

I was tempted ...

Sunday 1 March 2015

Elderberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (B6), 22nd-23rd February 2015

I spent much of Sunday in the kitchen, mostly making Involtini - griddled aubergines stuffed with bulgar wheat, pistachios and feta, covered in a tomato sauce. It gave an otherwise quiet day focus and the meal was superb. A bottle of elderberry was an excellent accompaniment - full of rich, fruity flavours to round off an unremarkable but thoroughly satisfying Sunday.