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.

Thursday 30 June 2016

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Sixth Bottle (A3), 24th June 2016

I suspect that this bottle as just as good as previous Tutti Frutis. However, the overriding taste on Friday night was one of bitterness. I find the national vote and the national mood depressing. It was not membership of the EU that most the Leavers were voting about, it was whether we should close our borders and reject anyone who is different. I fear the shift to right-wing xenophobia and wonder where this will take us. The whole world is in a difficult mood right now, and in this respect at least we are leading the way. The US will make the next awful decision. But I may be wrong: patriotism can be honourable. Interesting times.

Monday 27 June 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (C1), 22nd-24th June 2016

Most of this bottle was drunk in twilight. Having returned from WYSO on a balmy summer evening, Claire and I sat in the garden, drinking blackcurrant wine. Gradually the blackbirds' song ceased, replace by a bat fluttering past. We talked late into the night, probably irritating our neighbours, sipping sweet, smooth blackcurrant wine. It was a lovely hour, and little was left in the bottle by the time we went to bed. Scandalous for a Wednesday night.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (A4), 19th-23rd June 2016

This bottle was opened on a Sunday night when we had already had Too Much to Drink. Consequently, I remember little about its early life. Probably it was refreshing and tasted of apples. Claire had some on Tuesday while I was at Madeleine's playing quintets - though most the music I took proved unpopular. I had the final glass or two on Thursday night after exercising my democratic, and all too regular, right to vote for the losing side. When I finished this bottle I believed our EU membership was secure and all would be well.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (3),17th-18th June 2016

We had half a bottle of Redcurrant in the fridge but, it being a Friday night, Claire wanted something better. A bottle of Strawberry it was. After a couple of glasses each we decided to revert to the Redcurrant on the basis that our faculties wer diminished.

I had the final glass on Saturday after returning from the Playhouse having seen The Barnbow Canaries, a play by Alice Nutter about women working in a munitions factory during the First World War. It was not as good as her previous plays, but the last scene, where yellow balloons were released as each name of the dead was spoken, was excellent.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Redcurrant Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A5), 15th-17th June 2016

Redcurrant wine should be excellent and I think my first ever batch was. Instead, it is merely alright - thinner and less fruity than blackcurrant. Pretty colour, though.

I opened it on Wednesday and finished it on Friday. None for me on Thursday: I had spent the day being entertained by Walker Morris at a riverside bar. The excuse was watching  England play Wales in Euro 2016. I was there for the beer.

Saturday 18 June 2016

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

It is a rare occasion that I ask a naked man if I can pick elderflowers from his garden. This was one such occurrence.

The tree I eventually used
I noticed last week that Charles & Caroline, two doors down, had an elder tree in their garden and I thought it would be good neighbourly bonding to ask if I could use some, possibly in return for a bottle. So at a respectable hour on Sunday morning, 12th June, I knocked on their door. It was opened by a four year old. I asked if mummy or daddy were home. He looked reluctant, but went off to find one of them. Charles came to the door, hiding behind it, but it was clear that he was wearing very little. Possibly nothing. Having knocked, I now had no choice but continue. I asked if I could get some elderflowers. He looked confused. "For wine" I explained. Looking nonplussed, he said he would ask Caroline and shut the door. I wasn't sure whether he meant 'right now' or 'at some point in the future'. I hung around awkwardly for a few seconds, but decided that discretion was the better part of valour and retreated with no dignity in tact.

A pint of elderflowers
There were plenty of elderflowers elsewhere and I picked about a third of a carrier bag, which translated into a pint of flowers once I had stripped them from their stems (tedious).

Rhubarb in our garden
Claire supervised my picking of rhubarb from the plants in our garden, and I got 2 lbs 13 oz. I chopped these into chunks, put them in the bucket and poured in the elderflowers. Our main mint plant is doing well, so I got a handful of leaves from this and a few from a mint that was here when we arrived, chopped these roughly and put them in the bucket. I added 3 lbs of sugar and 7 pints of boiling water, stirred it all round and left it overnight.

Our main mint plant

On Monday morning I added a teaspoon each of pectolase, tannin and nutrient and sprinkled in the yeast. I left this until Friday evening, 17th June, when I sieved out the solids and put the liquid into its demijohn. It was a quick job and done before seven o'clock. The wine is pink, but not as pastel delicate pink as pure rhubarb.

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

Friday 17 June 2016

Elderberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (B5), 12th June 2016

I was able to make a direct taste comparison with 2015's elderberry while drinking this wine. 2015's batch was being bottled which meant a spare glass or two for quality control. The younger version is better, which is not what I expected at all. A little sweeter, missing a faint bitterness. This wine, though, is still good. It was a lovely evening, spending time in the kitchen with Claire, just chatting about nothing in particular.

Earlier in the day we watched cyclists whizz past as part of Leeds Triathlon, including Mary - wearing green and waving.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Second Bottle (B4), 11th June 2016

One would ordinarily celebrate the Feast of St Ithamar on 10th June, that being his official 'Day'. However, we were at Book Group so could not mark the occasion properly. Instead, we delayed it a day and had a host of vegetarian curries and a bottle of rhubarb wine. The food was wonderful: spinach and rice dumplings, aduki bean dall, raita, courgettes stuffed with coconuts and chilli. I don't know what an Anglo Saxon bishop would have made of it. Probably he would have stuck to the wine.

Rochester Cathedral - Ithamar's Resting Place

Monday 13 June 2016

Orange Wine 2014 - Final Bottle (A2), 8th-9th June 2016

Night on a Bare Mountain is a satisfying piece. It is exciting both to play and listen to, tricky without being impossible and the last section (in which the bassoons are silent) is beautiful. We played it at WYSO on Wednesday, came home and opened a bottle of orange wine. It being a mid-week bottle, half was left until Thursday, and then polished off while eating beanlash.

The wine was unremarkable, without that being a criticism, but so too were the evenings on which it was consumed.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Crab Apple Wine - First Bottle (A2), 5th-6th June 2016

This batch of crab apple wine is vey much like all others: a light, refreshing wine with a strong apple taste. It is my 'House White' and I am sad that we had to leave the tree behind when we moved.

Much of the bottle was drunk on Sunday night after a heavy day of sitting in the garden and reading an early Arthur C Clarke (he could foresee interplanetary space travel, but no jobs for women beyond 'secretary'). On Monday Claire deserved the rest for having to work till 8:30, running genetic tests onf fresh brain tumour samples. So this bottle covered both Brain Surgery and Rocket Science.

Friday 10 June 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Tenth Bottle (B1), 4th-5th June 2016

We drank most of this bottle yesterday after a visit to Harlow Carr Gardens near Harrogate. Claire has confirmed her entry into comfortable middle age by becoming a member of the RHS. I have joined her by being able to spot an Acer at 20 paces. Sooz is still hanging onto her youth. She was mostly bored by the gardens and more interested in a bonfire and some rocks.

I thought rose petal wine would tie in with the day - floral, pink and rather good. We drank it while eating artichokes, which I think are leafy globes of deliciousness but which Sooz considers irritating and pointless.

I think I recognise an Acer
Oh - the other thing of note that happened on the Saturday was that I was on Radio 4! The link to the programme is here: and I am at 52:40. If you ever wondered what I sound like, or want to know how my parents met, have a listen.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Blackberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (B1), 3rd June 2016

I have received my first 'Subject Access Request' under the Data Protection Act, which meant I spent most my day at work trawling through e-mails, formatting them so that they could be printed and generally putting myself in a bad mood. Coming home to a stiff gin & tonic followed by a bottle of blackberry wine helped matters somewhat. I also came home to a red metal skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on our hearth. Sooz and Claire had seen it in Blackbird and thought it would make a good birthday present for Andrew.

Monday 6 June 2016

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - First Bottle (3), 2nd June 2016

Well, I am delighted with how this wine has turned out and I will definitely be making it again. It has retained its bronze-pink colour and is entirely clear. The taste is complex, with the barest tingle of mint, and no one ingredient dominating. Any extra mint may have given the wine a mouthwash flavour. Sooz (who is visiting) and Claire agreed that this was delicious and the bottle was finished rather too quickly.

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

Sunday 5 June 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (C5), 30th-31st May 2016

Bank Holiday Monday was spent exercising muscles that I did not know I had. Mostly this was through shifting large paving slabs, energetic digging and pulling up tree roots with my bare hands. This called for a bottle of something delicious, and blackcurrant wine fits that description. We drank it to kangaroo steaks, cooked rare. I have never eaten kangaroo before and would be hard pressed to distinguish it from beef. That is not a bad thing. Perhaps it was tougher and required more chewing.

On Tuesday I ached, but took my mind off it by being hugely busy at work. All at once our Headingley development is starting to sell, and that keeps me in a job.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (C4), 29th-30th May 2016

It has been a glorious bank holiday weekend, almost exclusively spent gardening. We have made such a difference to the back garden. Where before there was a large rectangle of grass, uninteresting borders and an asbestos, pebble-dashed garage, there are now curves, sunlight, a large variety of plants and a pond with a water lily, water soldiers, a minature bullrush, an iris and other greenery besides. I am more interested in gardening than I have ever been before. Topping the weekend off with a bottle of crab apple wine was a pleasure.

Before - though you can't see the garage (on the right)


Thursday 2 June 2016

Julia's Wines - Raspberry 1995, 28th May 2016

With apologies to Julia, this wine was godawful. It had an interesting smell of jam but the taste was synthetic and nasty. There was only the barest hint of raspberry. I managed to finish my glass and Ros said it wasn't the very worst wine she had ever had (without elaborating what was). Otherwise everyone else had one sip and the bottle was emptied into the sink. It was a wonderful evening, though - Game's Night at Ros's, and six of us were there. We played four games - Pit, Saboteur, Ex Libris, and Ticket to Ride. All were great fun and I won the first and last. (Not that I am at all competitive or care deeply about these things.)