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 29 April 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Sixth Bottle (A3), 18th-19th April 2015

I see that I complained of mustiness for the previous bottle of redcurrant. This one was fine, with no hint of moth or dead mouse. It has a sharp sweetness that I like. I opened it after a particularly good Music Club in which Glenys sang in Danish and Pat & Peter's clarinet quartet played brilliantly. But having slept badly on Friday night, Claire and I only had half the bottle between us.

We finished it tonight after a busy day in which I made bread, went to the tip, washed up twice, started my mango wine, brooded about the carpet man, shopped at Sainsburys, cooked two meals for the week ahead, moved furniture, did some bassoon practice and kept Claire supplied with hot drinks.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (A2), 16th-17th April 2015

As I was leaving for Madeleine's quintet Claire asked what bottle she could open. "Anything white," was my response.



"Crab Apple?"


So, crab apple it was, despite this also being the last bottle drunk.

On Friday we finished the bottle in some misery. The carpet man has been and the stairs and bathroom floor are no longer bare floorboards. It looks great. However, he is insisting on being paid in cash - not having made this clear at the outset - and we feel sullied. Also, he has somehow broken the burglar alarm*. More expense. Bah.

* To all would-be burglars who know my address, we have had the burglar alarm fixed.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Mango Wine - The Making Of ...

When walking home from work a few weeks ago, Avishek metioned that mangos were really cheap at Kirkgate Market. My ears pricked up immediately. This is a flavour that I have been keen to try because I love the taste of mangos, but have always been discouraged by the price. Just as importantly, this adds the letter M to my alphabet. Everyone's a winner.

I had meant to make this wine last week, but the house was in chaos. Claire was decorating the kitchen, with paint brushes and ovens all over the shop. This week the house is still in chaos, but it is the back bedroom she is decorating. So on Saturday, 18th April, I got the bus into town and found a stall selling mangos at four for a pound (I will gloss over the £4 bus fare). I bought eight, along with a ton of other fruit and came home. Eight mangos weigh 88 oz with stones and 75 oz without, so I have 4 lbs, 11 oz fruit in my bucket.

On Sunday I sliced the flesh from the mangos, ignoring the fact that the greenest of the fruit had the brownest flesh. I ate little bits of brown fruit, and they all tasted fine, so into the bucket they went. The mangos were sliced into small pieces (though in retrospect not small enough), but my attempts at mashing them were woeful. I poured over 6½ pints of boiling water in the hope that this will extract their flavour and added 2 lbs 12  oz sugar. The same evening I added a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase, citric acid and tannin together with the yeast (champagne variety).

Mango Wine just before I put it into the demijohn
On Thursday evening, after a socially inept attempt at going to a solicitors' function (I walked into the bar, recognised one person, who didn't see me, saw everyone was already in groups, and left), I poured this into its demijohn. The sediment looks massive and I fear the wine will be bland in the extreme. Watch this space ...

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

Thursday 23 April 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (B1), 14th April 2015

Pete Beck helped us drink this bottle. I had not seen him since 1993. On Sunday, his Facebook status said he was in Harrogate, so I fired off a message inviting him over. I then spent the next 44 hours regretting it. What would we talk about? Would there be anything in common? How much, in fact, did I enjoy his company half a lifetime ago? Needless to say, we had a lovely time and the conversation never flagged. It was a pleasure to see him and he said nice things about the wine. We parted, promising not to leave it another 22 years.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Blackberry & Red Gooseberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 12th April 2015

The kitchen is now decorated. It has only taken eleven years. Claire has worked tirelessly over the last week, finishing (or at least getting on with) all those jobs that we really need to do before attempting to sell the house. Because I am inept, my offered help has been graciously declined. However, I did cook the Sunday roast, and do the shopping, and take things to the tip.

We drank this bottle with the roast chicken, and very good it was too. I think this flavour is improving with age.

Friday 17 April 2015

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A3), 8th April 2015

Claire is on holiday, and this is my excuse for drinking a whole bottle on a Wednesday. Also, she deserves a reward - to the extent that I gave her an entirely free choice of wine flavour. This week Claire has been organising things round the house in preparation for it going on the market. Floors have been fixed, cracks filled in, painting done, plasterers and electricians put on high alert. Stuff that we should have done years ago so that we could benefit. A bottle of (delicious) blackberry wine is scant payment.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Final Bottle (6), 6th April 2015

This bottle was Easter's final hurrah. Easter Monday was a lovely day, full of sunshine and Spring. It was the first day of the year where I spent most of it wearing just one layer. It is a simple pleasure, and becomes mundane as the season progresses. But the first time it happens each year provides a sense of freedom and promise.

I opened the wine with a little persuasion from Claire - she has the week off, but Tuesday marked my return to work. Once opened, though, I was glad I had. It was a refreshing, fruity, thoroughly good bottle of wine with a slight fizz and a glorious colour.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Elderflower Wine - Seventh Bottle (B6), 5th April 2015

Having the Parents over was wonderful, but it was nice when they left. Claire and I had spent a disturbed night between Saturday and Sunday, sleeping on an air mattress, which needed an emergency inflate at two in the morning. Therefore, as soon as we had said 'goodbye' to the last set to leave (mine), we crawled into bed for an afternoon snooze.

By the evening we were ready for an Easter bottle of wine, so I opened an elderflower. It feels like summer might arrive one day, and this wine was in early anticipation, drunk to leftovers.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (B5), 4th April 2015

I think this was the last bottle drunk at our Parents' Evening, but I couldn't swear to it. I should probably spend a sentence or two describing the wine's bouquet and taste, but these were pretty irrelevant by that stage. What I did discover, though, was that Pop spent VJ Day in New York City and has dim memories of the ticker tape parade, and the general air of excitement and celebration. Mostly, though, he remembers Brian getting lost and being placed high on some industrial bin by a stranger, so that his mother would find him.

My father was there, and I have only just found out.

Friday 10 April 2015

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (B6), 4th April 2015

I wasn't entirely sure about serving this wine at Parents' Evening. Several years ago at a Wine Party it proved distinctly unpopular. Since then I have tended to keep Orange just for ourselves. However, all parents appeared to enjoy it, and I like my orange wine. Yes, there is a distinct taste of orange peel, but that gives it a definite kick.

We spent much of the evening talking about the New House. I have driven both sets of parents (separately) to Bentcliffe Drive over the weekend so that they can look at it from outside, and I think both sets approve. It will certainly make entertaining and having people to stay much easier.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Blackberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (C1), 4th April 2015

Blackberry wine is always a winner. Every time I have a bottle I remember why it is my favourite. This bottle was one of four we drank at a Parents' Evening, and I'm just going to list all the fabulous food that Claire made:

Steamed spinach balls
Goan fish curry with prawns
Kashmiri Lamb
Pork meatball vindalloo
Black-eyed pea curry
Tamarind sauce
Yoghurt and mint
Coconut, chilli and corriander sauce
Golab jambu
Shrikand with fruit.

All fabulous. I have such a talented wife.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Whitecurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 4th April 2015

For much of this bottle I was blowing up our air mattress. Having an infestation of Parents (four in total) meant that Claire and I had to forsake our bed and sleep in the study. It became apparent during my heavy blowing session that the air mattress does not absolutely fit in our "third bedroom". I shifted the blanket box as much as I could, and made do. Having got all hot and bothered doing this, a glass of whitecurrant wine was welcome. The wine was okay - actually better than that - and Mom claimed that she liked it. There is a sharpness to it that I think is beneficial.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Elderberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (B1), 3rd April 2015

I fished out an elderberry as our second, and final, bottle of the evening. Bob & Judith were here and fancied something red. My elderberry is a particular favourite of Bob's. We drank it to an egg & bacon pie baked by Claire and the evening was one of genial tiddliness. Judith had brought a dark, rich fruity cake - full of figs and apricots, which went perfectly with the earthy sweetness of the wine. All in all, it was an excellent evening.

Monday 6 April 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Third Bottle (A4), 3rd April 2015

Oh Lordy, we got through a lot of wine over the last couple of days. This was the first of six bottles. We have had a Parents' Weekend - which is a bit like a Parents' Evening, but longer with less discussion about "Your child's progress" and with considerably more alcohol.

Friday night it was just Bob & Judith here, and Judith was pleased that I had chilled a Prune & Parsnip. It went down with unseemly haste. I don't think the clock had struck seven as I poured the last glass. But there was plenty more where that came from.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Rhubarb Wine - First Bottle (B5), 1st-2nd April 2015

What a splendid colour. This wine has that classic bronze pink of my very best rhubarb. The taste matches the tint. I have always liked rhubarb wine and this vintage does not disappoint. It has a full, dry flavour with a refreshing sharpness to it.

Claire opened the bottle on Wednesday, shortly before I went to a WYSO committee meeting - I had half a glass before I set off, and a fuller glass on my return. We finished the bottle tonight - Maundy Thursday - while discussing our impending move. The chain of buyers is complete, which means it is really going to happen. Probably. Gulp.

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

Thursday 2 April 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Ninth Bottle (B1), 28th-29th March 2015

This bottle was mostly a post-concert celebration. WYSO played at St Chad's on Saturday night in a programme dedicated to Spring. We had Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (which is tedious for bassoons), Mendelssohn's violin concerto (which was premiered in March 1845 - a tenuous Spring connection) and Schumann's  Spring Symphony. It all went rather well - and I managed the massively long note between the first and second movements of the concerto without breathing. Hurrah.

The wine was lovely, and a satisfying way to calm the adrenalin following the concert.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Twelfth Bottle (C4), 27th-29th March 2015

I am struggling to remember what we did on Friday night when this bottle was opened. All I can really recall is that I had a good day at work (3 completions, plus an exchange on land we are buying in Pudsey), walked home, finished the redcurrant and made significant inroads into this bottle. I can't even remember what we ate. And it was only 48 hours ago. Anyway, we finished the bottle tonight to a SNAPE* - this time Nigel Slater's grilled lemon, chilli and mint chicken, which was surprisingly easy and unstressful. I made a particularly good ratitouille to go with it, and Claire assembled the cous-cous.

Earlier in the day I went to a concert given by Leeds Haydn Players, where Hummel's Bassoon Concerto was the highlight. Rather than this being inspiring, it makes me wonder whether I should give up.

* Something New And Possibly Exciting