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 30 July 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (A6), 23rd July 2016

In a week's time we will be at Rydal. During this time, if they are not to go to waste, our blackcurrants will need picking. I have made a start on them, but they ripen at different rates. Becky will be our chief picker, and by way of bribe, I opened a bottle of blackcurrant wine for her.

Claire, Rachel, Becky and I sat in the garden, drinking wine, eating pickles and ham, and enjoying the brief summer we are experiencing. This wine was rich and port-like, and I have convinced Becky that she has a vital job whilst we are away.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B3), 22nd July 2016

We have a frog! Probably two! Claire spotted a small frog in our pond a couple of nights ago, and has photographic evidence. Tonight, while taking a turn around the garden, glass of rhubarb wine in hand, I disturbed the irises and a large frog hopped out, looking non-plussed. Two frogs is hardly a plague, but it is a start.

This rhubarb wine has an inital and disconcerting taste of swiss cheese and I think this is new for this vintage. It is a taste, though, that became eeasier to ignore as we got further down the bottle. By the time we had spotted the frog, I thought this wine exquisite.

Photographic Evidence

Monday 25 July 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 16th July 2016

On Saturday afternoon I returned to the place I often visit in my dreams. Huntington School is 50 this year and to mark the occasion it threw its doors open to former pupils and staff. I went with Adi Lacy, who I have known since I was seven but not seen for 21 years. We bumped into many former teachers, including Dr Wragg, Miss Kitching and gorgeous Ms Draper. Many aspects of the place have not changed at all, if one ignores the new buildings.

The day finished with a bottle of rose petal wine - delicious, an excellent vintage - and Scrabble with Mom. I got two seven letter words and won convincingly.

Huntington School in 1966 - the cars have changed, the building has not

Saturday 23 July 2016

Rose Petal Wine 2016 - The Making Of... (Blog Post 1,000)

When moving house we had to leave our favourite rose behind. It was a white rose, climbing around the car port and prolific in its blooms. That it was a wedding present made abandoning it more poignant. We did, however, take a red rose with us that had been at 14 Carr Manor Mount when we arrived there in 1998 and which had only put out the occasional flower. This rose is far happier where we are now and I have been out with scissors and a plastic bag every time its petals start to droop.

Mom has also been busy collecting roses from her garden - three varieties, all old and all on the pink/red spectrum. This wine will betray its Yorkshire roots by not having a single white rose to its name.

I was in York on Sunday, 17th July, and collected the last of the saved roses from the freezer. Back home in Leeds, after making bread, having an afternoon nap and tackling the washing up mountain, I measured the rose-petals. I stopped measuring at 12 pints - enough for a triple batch. The remainder are saved for Christmas Tutti Fruti. I poured the petals into my bucket - and at this stage this is the prettiest of wines.

Having failed to find any white grape juice this year, I put in 1-and-a-half lbs of minced sultanas and the juice of three oranges (which is very nearly an opera by Prokofiev). I added 7 lbs 12 oz of sugar (the same as last year - which has produced a wonderful wine). I covered this with 23 pints of boiling water, making the entire house smell of roses.

Next morning, Monday 18th July, I added the yeast, a teaspoon of pectolase and two teaspoons each of nutrient and tannin. I stirred this twice daily until Friday, 22nd July, when I put the wine into its three demijohns. As ever, I used a collander to scoop out most the rose petals, though after the first two collander loads, the 'jug and sieve' method was better. It was a quick job, probably taking about half an hour, and the wine is now bubbling away in all its dark orangy-pinkness.

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

Forgive me for a bit of self-indulgence, but this blog is now 1,000 posts old. The very first post is about making dandelion wine, and can be found here. That was back on 21 April 2011. Since then, I have done a 'wine making' post 94 times, and either made or drunk 50 flavours. My most popular post is 'Blackberry Wine 2013 - the Making Of' and the most frequently drunk bottle is a tie between 'Crab Apple' and 'Blackberry' (99 entries each, of which some will be about making the stuff). Thank you for stopping by - and Bottoms Up!

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Elderberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (B3), 15th July 2016

Bob and Judith have just returned from France, and wanted an overnight break on their journey from Portsmouth to Newcastle. Claire cooked an amazing array of vegetable curries and I opened a bottle of elderberry wine. It fizzed enthusiastically and was a good accompaniment to the food.

I have lent Bob my French bassoon and in return he has fixed our grandfather clock. This is not quite the blessing it sounds. At 3 a.m. I was still awake listening to the relentless tick of time passing.

NB - This is my 999th blog post. I'm not sure whether my 1000th should just be an ordinary one (rose petal, in case you are interested) or some sort of celebration.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fifth Bottle (B5), 9th July 2016

Even though it was a Saturday night, I was not certain that we should open a bottle. We have had plenty to drink every night this week, but Claire pointed out that we were still technically on holiday. And Prune & Parsnip is always a winner. Sweet and rich with a fortified taste.

Much of the day was spent driving back from Scotland. The remainder was spent on the chaise-longue, devouring The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. It has been an age since I have been so thoroughly engrossed by a book. There is little to beat that feeling of being entirely enveloped by a story, and caring desperately about what will happen to the characters.

Monday 18 July 2016

Strawberry Wine 2016 - The Making Of...

Strawberries have gone up again. £6 a kilo or, for those of us who think in Imperial, £2.73 a pound. I am certain that I could buy them cheaper in the market. But picking strawberries during Wimbledon fortnight is a tradition and it almost feels like foraging - appealing to my inner hunter-gatherer. You can't put a price on that. Well, you can. It is £2.73 a pound.

On Sunday morning, 10th July, Claire and I went to Wharfedale Grange Pick Your Own Farm to gather enough strawberries for this wine (4 lbs needed) and my autumn 'Strawberry and Apple' (another pound). We came away with 7 lbs 5 oz, and much of the extra has been turned into jam.

The fields were full of families with earnest parents trying to convince small children that this was Fun. Close to us, close enough for me to feel proprietorial about the strawberry plants in reach, William and Mia we having Fun at the top of their voices. I knew their names because their parents kept telling them to pick more quietly.

4 lbs of strawberries before mashing

Back at home I weighed, hulled and washed the strawberries and then put the 4 lbs needed in the bucket and mashed them. I poured in 3 lbs of sugar and 4 pints of boiling water, and left it for about 28 hours. On Monday night, after having met Kate - Chris's girlfriend - for the first time (she seems lovely and I approve) I took the pulp out using a collander initially, and then a jug, sieve, funnel and demijohn. I then covered the pulp in two pints of water, stirred it around a bit and left it while I washed and resterilised my bucket.

What is left of 4 lbs of strawberries at the pulp stage

Next I drained the liquid from the pulp into the bucket, now discarding the pulp, and I poured the nascent wine stored in the demijohn back into the bucket. (Strawberry wine is more labour intensive than most.) I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase, nutrient and tannin.

On Friday night I put this wine into its demijohn, which was a very quick job. It is house-brick red in hue.

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

Sunday 17 July 2016

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (6), 7th July 2016

I took this bottle as one of my best up to North Berwick, where we were staying with Aunt Jennifer. It was a fabulous wine - semi-sweet, taking the best tastes from both strawberries and apples. Sarah & John came round and helped finish the bottle. We had a wonderful few days in North Berwick, spending time with the extended family. Claire collected shells on the beach while I poured over photographs of my ancestors. We came home with my great-grandparents' commode.

North Berwick

Saturday 16 July 2016

Crab Apple Wine - Second Bottle (E2), 6th July 2016

We are on a week's holiday, and that means a whole bottle of wine on a Wednesday night. I chose crab apple wine for no particular reason other than it is a while since we last had one, and very nice it was too. Not as good, however, as the wine drunk on Tuesday. We stayed at the Yorke Arms in Ramsgill, which has a Michelin Star, and had a five course tasting menu. With each course came a glass of recommended wine, chosen for the food in front of us. The whole experience was amazing and an extremely rare treat. My favourite course was langoustine in cucumber froth, but that's like saying I prefer rubies to opals.

Friday 15 July 2016

Rose Petal Wine - First Bottle (B4), 2nd-3rd July 2016

The most surprising thing about this wine is its colour. I had expected a dusky pink and got yellow instead. The taste, though, was fabulous. It is distinctly rose, with a wonderful bouquet and has a half sweetness that makes it extemely drinkable. It was one of seven bottles that I opened for our house-warming party. I had imagined this would be a 'garden wine', sipped by the pond in glorious sunlight. On Saturday it mostly rained and that day's party was resolutely indoors.

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

Thursday 14 July 2016

Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (1), 2nd-3rd July 2016

Whilst I definitely had at least a glass of this wine, I am struggling to remember how it tasted. This suggests that it was far from awful and I suspect it was rather good. It was one of the first bottles finished at our house-warming party. The event was a success, with more people coming on Saturday than Sunday. Keith and Ellis showed up on Saturday and it was lovely to see them. Keith was a little subdued but Ellis was, of course, centre of attention - filling every room he was in and charming all our guests. He claims he was being chased by Gina's two girls, but I saw little evidence of that.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Rhubarb Wine - Third Bottle (A2), 3rd July 2016

I'm pretty certain that Jayne enjoyed this bottle. She drank a good majority of it. This was the last of the house-warming wines to be opened but not the final one finished. I got a glass of it, and this is a good batch of rhubarb. Jayne has excellent taste. Nice children too - the two younger ones went running round the house and garden shrieking, occasionally hiding and sometimes engaging with the adults. The older two were more sedate - both early teenagers with all that entails.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Clementine Wine - Third Bottle (3), 2nd-4th July 2016

This was my 'Comedy Bottle' of wine for the House Warming Party. Only those brave enough dared to have a taste - and I think that was only Becky, Nick, Phil and Phil. Watching the drinkers' faces was entertaining. You could see the "This isn't so bad" turn into "Gah - my taste buds, my taste buds". Nick was offered the bottle and refused to take it, which speaks volumes. In fact, I and the second of the Phils thought it wasn't That Bad. Acidic, yes, and tart beyond measure, but still drinkable. And now the bottle is empty.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Fig Wine - Fifth Bottle (2), 2nd-3rd July 2016

I have just counted up. We had 44 people through our doors this weekend. Having owned the house for exactly a year, we though it high time that we throw a party. This meant getting every room tidy (it took a week), buying more cheese than was strictly necessary, baking three types of cake and 2 types of biscuit, and opening seven bottles of wine. Fig was one of these, and as good as always. Many peopled were intrigued by this flavour and I heard someone compare it to port.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Blackcurrant Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (B3), 2nd-3rd July 2016

This was one of two 'reds' and one of seven bottles opened for our two-day house warming party. It was a bottle I retruned to at least twice. Jaynes's 15-year-old (also Ben) was allowed a glass but was unenthusiastic. He said it burned his throat. I told him to avoid whisky. Otherwise I think people enjoyed it.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Elderflower Wine - Fifth Bottle (5), 2nd-3rd July 2016

One of the reasons I chose this bottle for the House Warming Pary was so I could say to Charles "I didn't recognise you with your clothes on," and hand him a glass. [For reason, click here - it is safe!] Alas, Caroline and Charles (and their two young sons) were some of the last visitors, by which time the elderflower had gone. Much of it was drunk by other neighbours who came - Don & Sandy, and Lenny & Joan. It is a very English thing not to know who else lives on your street, and I am delighted that we had numbers 15, 16 and 24 come over. Don, Sandy, Lenny & Joan have lived here for decades and I think enjoyed the opportunity to have a poke about our house and garden.

Monday 4 July 2016

Mango Wine - Second Bottle (2), 29th-30th June 2016

It is not often that we have two mid-week bottles, of which this was the second, but Claire says that we need additional insulation from current events. I chose Mango on the basis that I remember it as rather ordinary, and to my mind it is. There is the vaguest tropical taste but otherwise is a dull, semi-fizzy white wine. Claire disagrees and (for once) has a higher opinion of my wine than I do. She thinks it a rather decent quality white and on that basis I may make it again one day.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (C2), 27th-28th June 2016

I have been grumpy all evening. Mostly through a combination of existential worries about our nation and having to cook. Plus I have spent some of this evening tidying the attic in anticipation of the housewarming this weekend. Fizzy, dry blackberry wine (not my best vintage) helps a little. We would not ordinarily have a bottle on Monday & Tuesday, but the weekend was stuffed with concerts and therefore wine-free. Saturday was the Pontefract Castle Proms concert. Playing Land of Hope and Glory was particularly inappropriate.