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 31 October 2015

Elderberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A1), 23rd-25th October 2015

I arrived at the House on Friday evening to collect Claire, only to find a paintbrush in my hand and instructions to paint the dining room wall. We left after 6:30, ordering a take-out curry as we went, and reached for a bottle of elderberry when we got home. The wine was fabulous - sweet and smooth, and a perfect antidote to a Friday night. There was still a small glass each on Sunday night - finished after another day of painting. It was deja-vu all over again.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Redcurrant Wine - Ninth Bottle (B5), 21st-22nd October 2015

No mice were harmed in the making of this wine. Despite previous bottles, this wine was entirely unmusty and free from its dead mouse flavour. Glorious colour too! I opened it after WYSO, where I was much happier with my playing (despite starting the first movement of Tchaik 4 on an A natural!). It is amazing what difference practice makes.

Thursday's glass and a bit was drunk while Claire and I were cooking together - baked trout, white sauce and an unfeasable amount of vegetables - and trying not to get in each other's way. It was a good evening.

A mouse in its coffin

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifth Bottle (C3), 18th October 2015

We deserved a good bottle of wine on Sunday night, and this batch of blackcurrant is one of the best. A thick fruity taste that packs a punch. Claire and I had spent a full day at the House mostly decorating. Our landing, hall and stairwell are white washed (if you ignore the ceiling) and one of our bedroom walls is a dark, dangerous red. This is going to be a long process, but the House is rapidly becoming ours.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (4), 17th October 2015

Claire thinks that Crab Apple & Strawberry is better than wine made from its individual components. I disagree, but will graciously accept that this is an excellent wine. It is dry and rich with clear strawberry flavours that never overpower. And the colour is splendid.

I did not mean to finish the bottle but somehow it emptied as I watched the first episode of the second series of The Returned/Les Revenants. I don't think I'll bother with the rest. The first series was spooky, original and unnerving, but things can only be original once.

In other news, I ordered curtain poles and tiles for the House. And Rachael & Myles visited. The House gets my sister's stamp of approval and Myles spent most of his time running around and playing with the cat flap.

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

Friday 23 October 2015

Blackberry Wine - Third Bottle (C4), 16th October 2015

Claire and I showed the height of moderation by only drinking one bottle between us on Friday night. We both felt we could manage more but made do with bush tea, Pringles and chocolate instead. This is the epitome of a healthy lifestyle.

The blackberry wine was finished by 8 o'clock, and I was a little disappointed with it. It was too dry and had less of a blackberry taste than usual. We then watched the final episode of Madmen's first series, which was excellent. Only another 6 series of 13 episodes each to go, then.

No mention of Pringles, chocolate or blackberry wine here.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Prune & Parsnip 2013 - Final Bottle (A2), 13th-15th October 2015

I do not think I have had a better bottle of Prune & Parsnip. This wine was as smooth as polished glass and the taste was delightful. Leaving it to mature for two and a half years from creation has, I think, made a difference. There was no special occasion to mark its opening; this just happened to be the first bottle of Prune & Parsnip that I found.

On Wednesday night I felt I needed a glass. I thought I had played Tchaikovsky 4 particularly badly - or at least the first movement of it. The notes do not lie easily under the fingers and I still treat the marked rhythm as an approximate guide, leading to a messy performance. Oh well.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Rose Petal Wine - Fifth Bottle (B3), 10th October 2015

I have drunk too much tonight. But this is my reaction when Claire is upset. Today at the House we discovered that the front door doesn't open fully (and having owned it three months, this shows quite how Yorkshire we are) and a patch of rotten floorboards in the toilet. Claire panicked and immediately declared this 'Dry Rot', saying vast amounts of floor would have to be removed. In fact, it looks more likely that this was caused by a leaking shower, but Claire is still low. At least the rose petal wine is delicious - sweet and floral. And it has put Claire into a slightly better mood.

This is how far our front door opens.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Crab Apple Wine - Fourth Bottle (A1), 7th-10th October 2015

Walking through the door after WYSO, my first task was to open a bottle of crab apple wine. The second was to watch The Great British Bake Off  Final whilst drinking a little too much for a Wednesday night. I am delighted that Nadiya won. Not only was she lovely, and a deserving winner, but she is from North Leeds and civic loyalty demands that I support her.

We then left the bottle unfinished until Saturday night and in between times I went to London (always a treat), ate a vast amount in a Greek restaurant and dreamt that someone had stolen all my wine. It was one of those realistic dreams where I had to wake myself up to remember that this was vastly unlikely. Crab apple wine is tasty but low on the list of 'Things to Steal'.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Elderberry Wine 2015 - The Making Of ...

Sunday 27th September was a day of Autumn mists and mellow fruitfulness. We woke to thick grey fog covering Leeds and set off for Ackworth. Claire had a string orchestra rehearsal at the Quaker School and suggested that I come along, use the time to pick elderberries and join her for a pub lunch afterwards. Mostly, though, I think she wanted me as her chauffeur.

The fog clung to the M62, through Pontefract and was only beginning to lift at Ackworth. On arrival I set off with my plastic bags and wandered around the perimeter of the school's football pitch. This was well stocked with trees and some of them were elders. The dew left behind by the mist picked out hundreds of spiders' webs, each bejeweled and breath-like. I apologised to the spiders as I destroyed their nets to pick fruit.

After the sports ground I bumbled around, sometimes on public footpaths, sometimes not. The only place that rivalled the school for elder trees was the graveyard of St Cuthbert's Church. By the end of the morning I had moved onto blackberries, which are still in abundance.

This is what 6 lbs of elderberries looks like.
I needed 6 lbs of elderberries for a double batch and I came away with 6 lbs 3 oz. One heavy plastic bag constitutes about four and a half pounds. Stripping them took two hours, during which time I entertained myself by listening to Radio 4 programmes that I had missed. This period was marked by the vast number of spiders that I had also gathered making an appearance. Don't tell Claire: I allowed most of them to escape into our living room. The earwigs, however, were evicted.

I crushed the berries in the bucket with a potato masher, added 5 lbs 4 oz sugar and poured over 12 pints of boiling water. On Monday morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient. I left this until Saturday 3rd October before putting the wine into its demijohns. This was a rapid job once I had fished most the fruit out with a collander. The amount of water I used was perfect. Its colour is one that I would like to use when painting the new house.

Friday 9 October 2015

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (B3), 4th October 2015

Opening a bottle with lunch is not a common occurrence. But three things converged: Catherine was visiting, Claire is feeling overwhelmed by the House, and we had a lamb & dumpling casserole. Blackberry wine went very nicely with the last of these, helped with the middle one and celebrated the first. I only had a glass because my tasks for the afternoon included 'Driving to the Station'.

Claire and I were poor hosts. Rather than pulling out all the stops and planning exciting things for our guest, we just got on with our ordinary weekend things. Catherine did not appear to mind.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (6), 2nd October 2015

Book Group was round at ours last night and the home-made option for wine was Strawberry. Most people stuck to the red & white. Actually, that's not true - Catherine, Gina, Ros, Jenny, Claire and I all had at least some strawberry wine with Catherine being the most enthusiastic. Rightly so - it is a fine bottle. And it is lovely that Catherine was able to visit for Book Group: she founded it 13 years ago and it is a decade since she moved away.

Our book was After Me Comes the Flood, which was a near-universal 'Miss', though no-one felt strongly about it. Many thought it was reminiscent of The Bell by Iris Murdoch (a previous Book Group book), though not as good. Next month, a book about cancer genetics!

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Fourth Bottle (A2), 30th September - 1st October 2015

I showed great forebearance by not opening this bottle until Claire came back from WYSO; a strings-only rehearsal. This was particularly the case because I spent the evening reading our latest Book Group book - After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry, which is tedious and over-written. But once Claire was home the cork was pulled and we settled in to watch Bake Off's semi-final. The wine slipped down as the tension twisted up. Why is it that I care so much about people I don't know making cakes I won't eat? It is excellent television.

We left enough wine for a glass each on Thursday. I was meant to be at Madeleine's for quintets, but she had forgotten and the house was empty.

Monday 5 October 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Ninth Bottle (A5), 26th September 2015

I think this is a particularly good vintage of Christmas Tutti Fruti. Previous versions have been somewhat thin, but this is full bodied and delicious. All the better when you drink it with sausages, roast potatoes and onion gravy.

Claire and I spent much of our time chatting about the House while drinking this. There is still a vast amount to do to it, and we have given up the idea of moving in before Thanksgiving, which is a shame.

The rest of the bottle was drunk to Doctor Who, which is back (hurrah). It was a Dalek episode, which are often tedious, but this was well done - full of moral dilemmas and danger. And I am warming to Peter Capaldi.

There is still a vast amount to do to it ...

Sunday 4 October 2015

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (C2), 25th September 2015

This was rather a splendid bottle of wine. One of the best blackcurrants that I have tasted. It has the correct amount of sharpness to balance the sweet fruit taste. I think Burgundy yeast is the way to go.

We drank it after I had spent an easy day at work and Claire had spent a hard day at the house, painting two bedrooms with their first coat of white emulsion. Much of the wine was drunk, though, while I looked for venues to hold the Extended Family Gathering 2016. The Nightingale Centre is booked for the weekend that we want (1-3 April) and now I must find somewhere else. It is not looking easy.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Elderflower Wine - Eighth Bottle (A5), 23rd-24th September 2015

Of the four movements in Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, it is the second that I love the most. It has a mournful, beautiful melody passed between the orchestra and, of course, the bassoon gets it last. We played this on Wednesday and I emoted as much as I could. The tune has been stuck in my head ever since.

I opened this bottle to Bake Off after WYSO and we finished it on Thursday to an episode of Mad Men. Elderflower is a solid, mid-week bottle: consistent, floral, just a little bit dull.