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 25 July 2015

Rose Petal Wine 2015 - The Making Of ...

Our rose bush has been splendid this year. It is the last year that we will see it in bloom and this has been its parting gift. Of all the plants in our garden that I would like to take with us, this rose is at the top of the list. It was a wedding present from Betty Rumsby. But it is unmoveable and no cuttings have taken root. I hope future owners will continue to enjoy its summer display.

Throughout June I have been collecting  roses as they wilt and putting them in the freezer. I gave strict instructions to my parents to do the same in their garden. Mom's roses are mostly pink and red, whereas ours are white (apart from one red rose that puts out one flower a year. I snipped this as soon as it was polite to do so.) Therefore, we have an attractive mix.

Mom and Pop came over yesterday, bringing their roses with them. I measured them today (19th July) and between us we picked 12 pints of petals - enough for a triple batch. I put these in my bucket and added 7 lbs 12 oz sugar, 1 litre white grape juice (thanks Waitrose), 500 g of minced sultanas, the juice of 3 oranges and 18 pints of boiling water. The sultanas are a grape juice substitute, but I think will work. The whole mix smells divine.

I put in the yeast late on Sunday evening and I have been worrying all week that this was too soon and there would be no fermentation. However, it all seems to be okay. I also added two teaspoons of nutrient and tannin and one of pectolase. Over the days the petals have been getting increasingly brown, and they have leached their brown into the liquid. I was hoping for something pink and have ended up with dun.

I put the wine into its demijohns on Friday 24th July. It took a while and there was nothing good on the radio to keep me company. I had far too little water - there could easily have been another four pints in the recipe.

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

Friday 24 July 2015

Cherry Wine - Final Bottle (3), 18th July 2015

My parents came over to inspect the new house and eat a fish curry, so I thought it would be a suitable time to crack open the last bottle of Cherry wine. This was not entirely selfless: I am hoping that they will report back to Susan Craig and I will get more cherries. Mom thought this one of the best wines I have made. It is delicious - stuffed with cherry flavour.

We drank the bottle before eating, mostly talking about death. Pop's prostate cancer has been confirmed and he now has to make some difficult choices about treatment. It isn't yet aggressive, but left untreated it will kill him. He and Mom are sanguine about it, though Mom was briefly teary as she contemplated life without her soulmate. But both have lived a charmed life so far, and want another ten years or so. At 74, that isn't greedy, is it?

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Blackberry Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (B), 17th July 2015

Today has been one of those rare days where things at work have all gone very well indeed. I came away thinking "That was a Good Day". On the whole I really like my job - it is certainly the best one I have had - but it is unusual for everything to go the way I want.

Claire also had a Good Day working in the garden of the new house and discovering that she was genuinely happy. A bottle of blackberry was the best way to celebrate, with its fizzy richness. And now I am firmly on the bush tea.

Monday 20 July 2015

Lemon & Lime Wine - Third Bottle (3), 14th-15th July 2015

Claire has specifically asked me to note that this wine tastes like an artisinal floor polish. One made from organic ingredients with great care and attention. Personally I thought it very quaffable - sweet, lemony with a hint of fizz. I considered putting in a touch of gin, but that would have been decadent on a work night.

Neither Tuesday nor Wednesday were remarkable - to the extent that I have forgotten what I did. I am reading two books: Gone Girl for Book Group, which I am not enjoying much, and Brew It Yourself by the Two Thirsty Gardeners, which is genuinely fabulous - and which I will review here properly when I have finished it.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Second Bottle (B6), 12th July 2015

Blackcurrant wine at its best is a fabulous flavour, and this bottle did not disappoint. It has a sharp fruit taste and is sophisticated, alcoholic Ribena.

I opened a blackcurrant because I have just located a new source. The new house's back garden has several bushes laden with them and I spent a happy half hour picking the ripest. There are also raspberry canes. Buying a new house may be an expensive way to acquire soft fruit but I'm not complaining.

The wine nearly accompanied a searingly hot chicken chilli cooked by Claire, but we had pretty much finished the bottle by the time we started eating.

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

Friday 17 July 2015

Gooseberry & Elderflower Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A6), 9th-10th July 2015

What a difference a day makes. On Thursday evening everything was doom and gloom. We had just returned from the new house and Claire asked me to open a bottle of something nasty. Thursday's skeleton in the closet was a leaking pipe that the owner had not mentioned. He had helpfully set up a container to catch the drips and this was entirely full. Claire had a sleepless night. Friday was far, far better. We had a series of workmen round, all of whom said "This is not a disaster" and we are both moving towards feeling excited.

The wine was not nearly as nasty as anticipated - an odd flavour that tastes neither of elderflower or gooseberry.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Orange Wine - Fourth Bottle (A1), 8th-9th July 2015

I am feeling so much happier about the forthcoming WYSO concert in Pontefract Castle. On Wednesday night the orchestra felt like it was more than a collection of 40 people, each playing an instrument. There is room for improvement, and the concert is on Saturday, but I do not think that we will disgrace ourselves. I opened a bottle of orange on our return and scandalously, we drank most of it then.

The last couple of glasses were drunk tonight after meeting an electrician at the new house and discovering a leaking pipe. Claire is hoping that she is at a nadir and things can only get better. At least the orange wine was sharp and pleasant.

Sunday 12 July 2015

Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (4), 5th July 2015

This is a splendid vintage of strawberry wine. It has a full taste - there is something substantial about it. The strawberry flavour is clear without being cloying. I do not think that I have made better.

One of the reasons that I chose this bottle tonight is that this afternoon has been dominated by strawberries. Claire and I have picked nearly six pounds between us, and I have been busy making the 2015 batch of strawberry wine. We have celebrated 4th July a day late with fried chicken nearly as good as my grandmother used to make and mashed potato (rather than potato salad - it wasn't the weather for that).

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

Saturday 11 July 2015

Strawberry Wine 2015 - The Making Of ...

 What a strange time the first weekend in July turned out to be. We collected the keys to our new house on Saturday morning, 4th July and first inhabited the place where we are likely to spend the rest of our lives. The place is a wreck - not structurally, but there is a daunting amount to do before we can live there. Its back garden, though, is nearly a blank canvas and we spent much of the afternoon weeding and digging a small corner. There are problems with light, however, mostly caused by a mature sycamore outside our boundary. Claire came away near tears and with a severe case of Buyer's Remorse. Time will tell, and two days later, she is feeling far more positive.

One good thing is that the garden has strawberries. We picked the ripest one and it now forms part of this wine.

The bulk of the strawberry picking happened on Sunday, 5th July at Wharfedale Grange (where prices have gone up again). Claire came with me because she needed to stay busy. We were directed to the nearest field and the strawberries were plentiful. Picking the 4 lbs needed for this wine took little time, and we came away before the heavens opened with nearly 6 lbs fruit.

Back at home I gathered tiny wild strawberries fom our garden in the rain, hulled those we had got from Wharfedale Grange and put them all in the bucket, taking a potato masher to them. I added 3 lbs sugar and 4 pints of boiling water.

One strawberry from the new house, and tiny strawberries from our garden

This evening, Monday 6th July, I separated the liquid from the pulp, putting the liquid in a demijohn and the pulp in a pan, and covered the pulp with 2 pints of cold water. This sat for the time it took me to eat and do the dishes (which was ages). I then put all liquid back into the freshly sterilised bucket, threw out the pulp and added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin.

I put the wine into its demijohn on Saturday morning, 11th July. I don't remember a strawberry wine as deep a ruby colour as this one.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (B4), 2nd July 2015

Yes, I know it is a Thursday and that drinking a whole bottle of wine is immoderate, but it is not every day that you buy a house. Actually we have only exchanged contracts, but we complete tomorrow and that is cause enough for a) a celebration; and b) drinking irresponsibly. Why, then, do I feel a bit low and unsettled? Probably because it is Change and everyone knows that Change is Bad. Tomorrow, though, I will be excited. Maybe.

Anyway, this crab apple wine is no different to any other crab apple. That, I recognise, is not the most eloquent of descriptions.

Monday 6 July 2015

Gooseberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (2), 30th June-1st July 2015

Glorious summer has arrived. After another depressing WYSO rehearsal, Claire and I sat in the garden drinking gooseberry wine. The sun had already set but the day's warmth remained. We sat and we drank and we talked and the seventeen years ago that we married both shrunk to a moment and expanded to a lifetime. At eleven o'clock we were still outside but drinking whisky. When we decided it was late enough and approached the house I noticed our honeysuckle. It was in full bloom and its scent was Paradise.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Final Bottle (4), 28th-29th June 2015

We opened this bottle on our return from an Airedale concert in Ilkley. The programme was Daphnis & Chloe, Bruch's Violin Concerto and Pictures at an Exhibition. I had been worried about my lip lasting the concert, but I needen't have been. After all, I was wearing my lucky musical socks.

The concert was splendid, and the Ravel has been growing on me all term - it is passionate, intense music. This bottle of wine can also be described as splendid and intense. It is sharp and fruity, and I think has benefitted from aging.

Friday 3 July 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Second Bottle (A6), 27th June 2015

We spent the night in York and I brought along a bottle of Rose Petal wine. It was a beautiful summer's day - the first we have had this June. Warm, sunny, still. Our first glass was drunk in the garden, surrounded by the roses from which this wine was made.

Jenny Laycock came over. I haven't seen her since we were both teenagers and it was lovely to catch up. She has hardly changed. Jenny said I looked just the same, which is patently untrue. Aged 16 I had yet to start wearing glasses and had a full head of eighties hair. But it was nice of her.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Eighth Bottle (A4), 24th-29th June 2015

Not that I am a control freak or anything, but Claire put the wrong bottle of wine in the fridge. We had redcurrant the previous week. How could she not remember? This one was worse than the last, more musty, but that may have had something to do with my mood. On Thursday night I was Very Cross Indeed. I thought our solicitor had scuppered us buying the new house entirely. In fact, he hadn't, and things are okay again. We may even exchange tomorrow.*

*We didn't