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.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Tenth Bottle (A3), 20th June 2015

What a feast we ate on Saturday. Ros, Richard & Linda came over for no reason, other than it was nice to spend an evening with them, and Claire cooked an expanse of Balkan food. We had a savoury yoghurt cake, potato casserole, stuffed carp (actually 'river cobbler'), mushrooms sauteed with onions and vinegar, asparagus, prune balls and Dobos Torte - a many-layered cake topped with brittle caramel. All of it was fabulous and the evening was just a delight. This bottle of rhubarb was the first of three opened and enjoyed by all (except for Linda, who cannot drink alcohol). It is a delicate white with a subtle rhubarb taste.

The yoghurt cake

Dobos Torte - in tact

Dobos Torte - half eaten.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Sixth Bottle (A3), 19th June 2015

At the beginning of this week I had hoped that we would be exchanging contracts on the new house today. It is looking increasingly unlikely that it will happen next week either, and we are meant to be completing on 3rd July. Bloody solicitors! So I drank this bottle in a state of irritation, albeit to a pork in plum sauce stir fry. Both the wine and food helped put things in perspective. This, I think, is the best Xmas Tutti Fruti I have made - it is red wine with a rose petal taste, which is both odd and exotic. I am already collecting roses for this coming December.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Julia's Wines - Cider (Undated), 18th June 2015

I wanted a bottle of something that Julia had made on what would have been her 63rd birthday. What I had not planned to do was kick over the glass holding two thirds of a bottle of cider after only having had one sip. Our carpet now smells of apples. Oh well - this was one of Julia's lesser efforts: thin, dry and vinegary.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Seventh Bottle (B2), 17th-18th June 2015

This was a typical post-WYSO bottle, put into the fridge on Wednesday after work in the anticipation that it would be ordinary at best. Actually, it was on the good side of ordinary and an absolutely splendid colour. I might make redcurrant wine again one day, depending on finding a source.

WYSO was disappointing for a second week in a row. We don't have enough upper strings and I am starting to feel worried about the concert.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Blackberry Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (A6), 14th June 2015

It being my birthday I chose my favourite flavour of wine and we drank from the precious, delicate glasses that once belonged to my grandfather. For most birthday meals Claire cooks something untried and fancy, and always superb. This year what I desired and got was the Egg & Pepper Thing, and it did not disappoint. There was Virginia Woolf's Dundee Cake made with brandy-soaked cherries to round it all off. What more could a man want for his birthday? (In fact, the wine was less good than I had hoped, but everything else made up for it.)

... and her Dundee Cake

Friday 19 June 2015

Elderflower Wine - First Bottle (2), 11th-13th June 2015

Elderflower is a reliable white wine with little variance between years. It has a semi-sweet floral taste: distinctive and summery. Mid-June is the perfect season to open a bottle.

I spent most of Thursday evening reading Jaws while drinking this in preparation for the Book Group party. It is old fashioned with pedestrian prose, but good fun all the same. People getting bit in half - what's not to like?

We finished the bottle after returning from the theatre: The Rise and Fall of  Little Voice. This was mostly bleak and gritty with a fabulous musical sequence and some excellent, powerful acting from the three leads.

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

Thursday 18 June 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - First Bottle (A3), 10th June 2015 (sort of)

Jude has designed a postcard to advertise Rydal. It has a retro look to it, and does the job nicely. I had agreed to pay £100 for this, but when it came down to it Jude said that she didn't want the money. I paid her in wine instead. It all very nearly went catastrophically wrong, though. In the car park, before WYSO, Claire pulled the bag on which I had rested the bottle out of the boot, launching this bottle onto tarmac. I watched it fall in slow motion, expecting glass to shatter and an overpowering smell of blackcurrant. That the bottle stayed unbroken I put down to a miracle of St Ithamar, whose feast day it was, and who I have honoured every year since 2010.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fourth Bottle (A1), 9th-10th June 2015

This year's Book Group party theme is 'Animals'. Earlier this week I finished a literary, difficult (but worthwhile) read - Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan. I fancied something at the other end of the spectrum, so while having a glass or two of Prune & Parsnip, I rattled my way through the first 100 pages of Jaws which is neither difficult nor literary.

We finished the bottle after a fairly dreadful WYSO while eating florentines in honour of the Feast of St Ithamar. Prune & Parsnip wine is sweet enough to drink with chocolatey biscuits, and I have decided that despite not being a believer, St Ithamar is my personal patron saint. I will explain more in my next post: Blackcurrant - First Bottle.

2015's Feast of St Ithamar

Monday 15 June 2015

Rose Petal Wine - First Bottle (A2), 6th June 2015

"This tastes like grandma used to smell." It is a pithy and evocative description from Sooz, but maybe not the one I was after. She followed it up by saying it reminded her of a bath she once had thirty years ago. I think both were meant well, and mostly commenting on this wine's perfumed taste. It is sweeter than 2013's batch and this makes the wine more immediately drinkable.

In other news, we spent the day travelling round North Yorkshire Open Studios, seeing lots of beautiful art. Claire and I were so taken with one piece - a fabric representation of a Burnett Moth wing by Kirsty Mason - that we bought it and it now sits above our fireplace.

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

Saturday 13 June 2015

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - The Making Of ...

I have made Rhubarb & Elderflower wine at least twice before. This year I am experimenting by adding mint into the cauldron. It could be delicious and it may be disgusting, but I would never know without giving it a try.

It has been a lovely early summer day today, 7th June. At times the sky has been cloudless and a deep June blue. I am still in just a T-shirt and it has gone eight. This morning, shortly after 10, Sooz and I set off to find elderflowers. It is early in the season and many trees are only indicating that they might one-day bloom. However, we found several trees in the two open green areas that straddle Potternewton Lane that had at least some clusters of elderflowers. Between us we picked about a third of a carrier bag full, and this was plenty for both this wine and Sooz's 'Dark & Lonely Water' flavoured vodka.
Elder Tree - Not in Bloom

Once Sooz was safely on a train to Newcastle I picked and chopped 2 lbs 12 oz rhubarb from our garden - making sure a good deal came from Shirley's plant for its colour. I then stripped elderflowers to make up three-quarters of a pint of blossom. As ever this was tedious, to the extent that I have decided not to make pure elderflower wine this year - which must be the first time in about eight years that I have not. The stripping process was helped along by Charlotte Green on Classic FM and a Dum-Tee-Dum podcast.

The Mint Plant
I picked a handful of mint from our garden, concentrating on one variety, but putting at least a leaf in from three others, washed it and put the leaves into the bucket with the rhubarb and elderflowers. I added 3 lbs sugar and boiled 6½ pints of water. When the water hit the ingredients there was a wonderful minty smell and though I only put in a small(ish) amount of mint, I fear this may dominate the flavour.
Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint in the bucket
I put in one teaspoon of nutrient and tannin (and possibly pectolase, but I don't remember) together with the yeast the same night. On Thursday evening, 11th June, this went into its demijohn. There was not quite enough liquid, but it was within half a pint. The wine's colour is a dark pint, and I could definitely taste the mint when I had a sip. I'm actually quite excited by this wine.

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

Thursday 11 June 2015

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (2), 5th June 2015

Sooz is visiting as part of her 40th birthday celebrations, so I put a bottle of Crab Apple & Strawberry in the fridge. This is one of my more exclusive bottles (in that there are only six a year) and a fortieth birthday is something to celebrate. I had not realised that Sooz is barely drinking at the moment, since having severe flu earlier in the year, so she had a small glass and Claire and I finished it. In fact, it was not as good as I had remembered - too dry. But still drinkable, and toasting someone else's birthday is always worthwhile.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Pineapple Wine - Fifth Bottle (5), 3rd-4th June 2015

I am currently irritated and frustrated. Our house purchase drags on and the latest crisis concerns insurance. When we decided to buy the house we are buying, we got a structural survey which said "This house is fine". Santander instructed a valuer who said "There is some cracking. The house must be falling down". And of course, the insurers believe the valuer (a glorified salesman) rather than the structural engineer. I reached for the gin before the pineapple wine and both have helped. The wine is too sweet and a little cloying, but is otherwise drinkable.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Blackberry 2012 - Final Bottle (C2), 31st May 2015

It was Susanna's 40th birthday today, and what better way to celebrate than open my final bottle of this vintage? It was delightful. Sooz was not with us, of course, but we raised our glasses to her health. The meal was fabulous too - particularly the Sindi Lamb, a dry spicy curry that was full of flavour. We then watched The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was a lovely, funny film. Ralph Fiennes can do comedy, which is a surprise. Sooz should be forty more often.

Saturday 6 June 2015

Orange Wine 2012 - Final Bottle (A5), 30th May 2015

Until I cleaned and moved my wine bottles last weekend, I had forgotten entirely that we still had a bottle of Orange 2012 left. Saturday night was appropriate to finish it off. Claire cooked a chicken teggine from her new book of Morrocan recipes, and it was full of citrus, garlic, olives and dried fruit. This was cooked in the ceramic pot that Rachael gave us one Christmas and which has only been used the once. Everything was delicious and this bottle of wine, aged for three years, had a smooth dry orange taste.

I spent the rest of the evening catching up on my 'house move' diary. I now have between three and five diaries on the go: this one, my holiday diary, a book of walks (which I write in very rarely, so hardly counts) and the house move diary. Except that last one is split into two: buying and selling. Five diaries suggests self-obsession and maybe is about four too many.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Second Bottle (A6), 29th May 2015

Again, what a splendid colour. All metallic pink. And the taste is delightful - a little sweeter than previous years, which makes it different rather than better or worse.

Claire had more of this bottle than I did, because I had spent the afternoon in the company of three pints of beer at Headingley cricket ground. It was the first day of a test match between England and New Zealand, which would have been a lovely way to spend an afternoon, had it not been for the cold. I was in four layers and still shivering. We are at the end of May! But I enjoyed the bit of the game that I saw, even if I did keep on missing the wickets because I was talking to the person next to me.

Monday 1 June 2015

Kiwi Fruit Wine - Fifth Bottle (5), 25th May 2015

Claire was sufficiently impressed with this bottle to describe it as "like cheap white wine". I could ask for no better compliment. (And, in fact, I think it reaches into the mid-price range.)

We drank this on bank holiday Monday, which was anything but a holiday. Cleaning and tidying was the order of the day, virtually without let-up. But now our house is tidier that it has been since we moved in 17 years ago. I walk into each room just to admire its order. How long we can maintain this is another matter. I think 48 hours will be pushing it.

This level of untidiness is not atypical