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 27 February 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Eighth Bottle (B4), 20th February 2016

It has been less than a week since we last had a bottle of rose petal and, thus, this wine breaks all my rules. However, the meal was entirely Turkish and Rachel was in attendance. Therefore, I tore up the rule book as special circumstances applied.

The food was fabulous: from aubergines baked with walnuts, through a spinach and feta filo pie, to spiced yoghurt cake drenched in honey sauce, and plenty in between.

Earlier in the day, I had collected the Moses tapestry done by my great-great-grandmother from the framers.(it looks fabulous) and spent an entertaining two hours at Dean Clough Mills in Halifax with cousin Lou, Mike, Adam & Daniel. A full and pleasant day.

The Moses Tapestry

Friday 26 February 2016

Orange Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B5), 19th February 2016

It feels like I have spent the entire evening washing up. Claire has been cooking frantically, in preparation for tomorrow night's Turkish Extravaganza (vegetarian). Consequently I have been creating order out of chaos in the kitchen.

The orange wine was opened for a fish pie. I had suggested something real, but Claire fancied something with a citrus kick, and this wine has that aplenty.

Other than the vast amounts of washing dishes, the other notable (read "dull") thing about today was that I walked to work for the first time since moving. Six miles in one hour twenty five minutes. Surprisingly, it was a delight.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Elderflower Wine - Ninth Bottle (A3), 17th-18th February 2016

It is half-term this week, and therefore no WYSO. Instead I spent Wednesday evening in Wakefield at Nick's discussing the Pontefract concert in June. A James Bond medley could be fun; the Prince Igor Suite will not be. Back at home I shooed out Claire's quartet, opened this bottle and settled down to Bake Off.

On Thursday, elderflower wine kept me company as I made Lentil Farmer's Pie. I didn't get flustered and the end result was the best that I have done. The wine served its purpose and was as dependable, summery and floral as ever.

Recipe for Lentil Farmer's Pie (with apologies to Delia) (feeds 2)

3 oz green lentils
3 oz red lentils
1 onion
2 small-ish carrots
1 stick of celery
half a courgette
clove of garlic
a chilli (taking out as many seeds as you fancy depending on how hot you want it)
lots of butter
a tomato or two
pinch of mace
salt and pepper

as many potatoes as looks sensible for mash on top
more butter
bit of milk
strong cheddar cheese

1. Boil the lentils in separate pans in enough water to absorb and a bit extra until they are done. (Red lentils cook much faster than green lentils - hence the different pans. Probably 15 mins for the red lentils and 40 for the green - but that is approximate.)

2. Meanwhile, soften the butter, and put in the diced onion, crushed garlic and sliced chilli. Cook until onion is looking soft

3. Put in the diced carrot, sliced celery stick and (after a bit) the diced half courgette.

4. When the veg looks done, and the lentils are done, drain the lentils, squeeze out excess water, put them in with the veg and mix thoroughly.

5.  Add plenty of salt and pepper and mix through. Put in a dash of ground mace and mix that too.

6.  Put the mix into a small casserole dish, slice the tomatoes thinly and put those on top

7. Make mashed potato, mashing it with the butter and milk.

8. Put on top of the mixture

9. Grate the cheddar cheese and put on top

10. Put in the oven at Gas 6, 220 degrees, and cook for about half an hour (maybe a bit less).

11. Serve with whatever you fancy. I had chutney.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Seventh Bottle (B6), 14th February 2016

It is Valentine's Day. What other bottle than Road Petal could I open? Well, strawberry springs to mind. This bottle of rose petal, however, was delicious. It has exactly the right level of sweetness combined with the exotic, floral taste of roses. And a delightful pink colour too.

Claire and I have had a lovely Sunday, rounding off a fabulous weekend. This morning was lit by winter sun and we took a walk to Roundhay Park and back, marvelling at the huge red-brick Edwardian houses we passed. Then this evening, Claire baked a chicken pie from The Hairy Bikers' Cook Book. Right now I am feeling both tiddly and sleepy. It is a good combination.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Eighth Bottle (B2), 13th-15th February 2016

A good bottle of rhubarb, which this was, is a delight. It has a dry complex flavour that could be mistaken for wine of the grape variety. We drank most of it on Saturday to Chinese roast pork, having spent the day buying unexpected flooring and curtains, and dressing up as builders.

It is a rare Saturday that we do not finish the bottle, and this was one of those occasions. The last glasses were drunk tonight, Tuesday, after an intense visit (is there any other sort?) from a Wesleyan Financial Advisor.

Us Dressing Up as Builders

Thursday 18 February 2016

Blackberry Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (B), 12th February 2016

I think this bottle has not improved on keeping. It was fine, but blackberry should be delicious. There was a bitter undertone and the whole thing was less fruity than usual. We drank it to a beef stew that Claire had made earlier in the week. The plan for the evening had been to sit quietly in front of the stove (after I had finished putting my Prune & Parsnip wine into its demijohns and racking the Christmas Tutti Fruti). However, the neighbours - who are teachers - had just broken up for half term and their music of questionable taste was loudest in the front room. I arsed about on the computer instead.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Redcurrant Wine - Tenth Bottle (B6), 10th-12th February 2016

I opened this bottle on Wednesday evening after WYSO and sat down to watch the Celebrity Great British Bake Off. Except it wasn't on. There was some football match instead. Rubbish! And Disappointing. But the bottle was open, so Claire and I had a glass each and went to bed.

I was out on Thursday playing unsatisfactory trios with Pat & Peter, leaving the wine with Claire. I finished what was left tonight. For some reason I began the evening feeling remarkably cross. One glass of redcurrant wine later (which is okay with little to be said about it) and my mood had improved.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - First Bottle (A6), 7th-9th February 2016

This Prune & Parsnip is far paler than previous vintages. It is a golden yellow rather than burnt orange. Perhaps it is drier, but only subtly so. There is the usual sherry taste, and I am pleased with how this has come out.

I opened the bottle on Sunday, the day I started 2016's batch of this flavour. We had finished the remnants of Rose Petal left over from bottling three demijohns but scandalously wanted more wine. Only a glass each, mind. The rest was drunk tonight, Pancake Tuesday - which I celebrated by making Toad in the Hole. (The basic batter recipe is the same.)

If you want to see how I made this wine, you can look at the post before (which is 2016's version) or click here (which is how I actually made the bottle that you have just read about)

Saturday 13 February 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2016 - The Making Of ...

I was furious when I bought ingredients for this year's Prune & Parsnip wine. The weather was miserable; the worst sort of February rain; and I was hungry. The picture framing shop was closed, which meant a pointless trip had been made, and there had been nowhere to park in Roundhay near the butchers. My usual place for buying vegetables had neither prunes nor parsnips. And there I was in Tescos, an unfamiliar supermarket, struggling to find what I wanted. Not a great start for this wine.

The raw ingredients

Once home, I ignored the fact that Claire was feeling ill with a heavy cold and insisted that she put all the shopping away and bring me coffee and cake. I think I am the world's worst husband.

Leaving wine-making until today, Sunday 7th February, was a wise choice. It has been much better: the sun has shone and I have spent the morning palying bassoon quartets and watching Chris Contrabassoon try to fix his car with bits of string.

Parsnips in a pan
In the afternoon I chopped 4 lbs of parsnips into small pieces, cutting myself just the once and getting only the smallest amount of blood all over the vegetable matter. I boiled the parsnip pieces in 16 pints of water for about 25 minutes. This was done in two stages - 2 lbs parsnips in 8 pints of water at a time.

Prunes and a very sharp knife.
I put 5 lbs 10 oz sugar and 1 lb prunes (actually 500 grams) into my bucket. The prunes were already de-stoned, and I chopped each one into two, three or four pieces depending on their size. Once the parsnips had finished boiling I poured the water over the sugar and prunes, keeping the parsnips out of the mix. These will almost certainly end up in the bin but Claire has suggested using some of them for soup.

After 5 days' fermentation

The yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient went into the bucket on Monday morning. It all got a general stir once or twice a day until Friday 12th February, when I put the liquid into its demijohns. This was mostly done while Claire was sorting books in the kitchen - for the first time ever (possibly) we now have more shelf space than books. The wine is its usual orangy-brown colour and fermenting enthusiastically.

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

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (3), 6th February 2016

I wanted a good bottle of wine for Saturday night. It was the evening that I played in Mozart's Quintet for Piano and Winds at Music Club. And however it was destined to go, something cold, delicious and alcoholic was going to be necessary on my return.

In fact, it went pretty well, though I only just managed to avoid destroying the music in its last few bars. I stopped counting my bars' rest and realised, as the music continued around me, that I would have to come in by guess-work. This was successful, but it spooked me and the demi-semiquaver passage looked alien on the page. I busked the penultimate bar, hoping that playing a repeated E-flat would fit. It did, we reached the last bar successfully and I returned to my seat, knowing that it had been a close call. The wine was welcome.

(In the YouTube video above, it is at 18:11 that I got into trouble. The bassoonist in the clip does it effortlessly, of course.)

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Tenth Bottle (A6), 3rd-5th February 2016

Crab apple wine has turned into a default mid-week bottle when you want to drink something that isn't horrid. There are a few other flavours that meet this description, and this vintage of crab apple is the most flawed of all. It is rough and ready - not necessarily qualities one seeks in a wine.

We started the bottle post WYSO (A Midsummer Night's Dream continues to improve, Richard III has yet to grow on me). I finished it on Friday evening before Book Group. We had been promised a lift from Ros but at the last minute Stumpy, her cat, started behaving oddly, so I drove, trusting that any after effects from the crab apple wine had long since worn off.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Blackberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (A1), 31st January 2016

A Sunday night bottle to a Sunday night roast.

We had a large chicken, of which we managed about a quarter, all manner of vegetables and forced-meat balls. Then we watched an episode of Torchwood. Can Sunday nights be much better? The wine was, of course, lovely. As was the day (despite the weather). We have started doing 'House' things again - specifically hanging pictures (though there was also a quick trip to the tip). Our Geological Map of the Grand Canyon now dominates the kitchen's back wall and the 'Family Members on the Beach' group of photos is at the top of the stairs.

Friday 5 February 2016

Vanilla Wine - Third Bottle (2), 30th January 2016

"I remember this bottle as slightly disappointing," I told Claire after revealing that our Saturday night bottle would be Vanilla wine.

"I remember it being vastly disappointing," she replied.

It is true that it wasn't my greatest. For the first time, though, I got a vanilla hit as the initial taste. And like many poor wines, once I had got used to the flavour (cloying, dull), the second and subsequent glasses were better.

We drank it after a visit from John, Jayne, Alwin and Lucas - it has been a couple of years since we last saw them, and the boys are delightful. We pressed a postcard for Rydal into their hands - Lucas plays the trombone - and they might give it a go.

When typing "cloying dull" into Google Image Search, I got this!

Thursday 4 February 2016

Blackcurrant & Red Gooseberry - Final Bottle (6), 29th January 2016

The Gooseberry has really come to the fore in this flavour for its final bottle. Despite being red in colour, the wine has a crispness ordinarily associated with white wine. I think this has been the best bottle of the batch.

It has been our second quiet Friday night in a row, much of it sat in front of the stove reading. My book is a sixteenth century account of Spaniards exploring the New World: the source material for our Book Group group The Moor's Account. Historically fascinating, but with frustrating gaps that the fiction fills.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Ninth Bottle (B2), 27th-29th January 2016

The first half of this bottle coincided with a celebrity Great British Bake Off after WYSO. One of the pleasures of the regular series is watching ordinary people do something well and with passion. The celebrity version jetisons these elements in favour of knowing humour. It is slicker and funnier, but something is lost. Still, half a bottle of prune & parsnip wine (between us) with its sherry flavour slipped down rather nicely.

There was only a little left this evening, which I poured on the stroke of six. The alcohol content must be high, because even a small glass took an edge off the evening.