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 March 2017

Blackberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (A6), 25th March 2017

A bottle of wine is always welcome after a concert, particularly when the wine is as good as this.

The concert was WYSO's 'England All at Sea'; the main pieces were Elgar's Sea Pictures (with a stunning contralto) and Frank Bridge's The Sea. Our poster showed a sinking ship - and any Brexit imagery must surely be a coincidence.

For once I was in the audience (on account of my tooth recovery) and it was a pleasure to be there. WYSO is a better orchestra than I had thought - the strings are a strong section, and I don't hear that when playing. After the concert we invited Rachel & Duncan over and dispatched the wine with alarming speed. Another bottle was duly opened...

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - Final Bottle (4), 24th March 2017

Friday night was 'Neighbourhood Pizza Night'. Liz and David at number 33 had the idea and made the pizza, Angie & Phil brought bread, Claire supplied the tiramisu and I took along a bottle of wine. Rhubarb, elderflower & mint was chosen as one of my best and we drank it as an aperitif. Everyone liked it; Angie still remembers my Potato wine and anything compared to that is nectar. The mint was noticeable in this bottle, which is always beneficial. We had a lovely night, full of conversation and laughter, and at the end of it the walk home took rather less than two minutes.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (B5), 18th-19th March 2017

I put this bottle in the fridge in anticipation of our return from Faure's Requiem, courtesy of Batley Music Club. We had expected dire things, but in fact it only required one glass of crab apple wine each in order to recover.

Most of the bottle was drunk to a roast chicken dinner - our first roast for quite some time. We had spent the day visiting more garden centres than planned, finishing the herb bed and catching up on odds and ends. I finished Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro - which was a morbid, uncomfortable read yet gripping. The wine was equally gripping but pleasingly neither morbid nor uncomfortable.

Thursday 23 March 2017

Rhubarb Wine 2014 - Final Bottle (B1), 17th March 2017

Having bottled a triple batch of rose petal (which produces a goodly quantity of spare wine for immediate consumption), opening and finishing a bottle of rhubarb wine was perhaps not wise. Claire said that anything delicious would be wasted and therefore this bottle was an adequate choice. Rhubarb wine does not age brilliantly. There was a hint of cheese to its taste, but this was subtle enough to be nearly ignored. We drank it in front of the stove bemoaning the state of the world in general and Claire's job prospects in particular.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Orange Wine - First Bottle (B6), 15th-16th March 2017

I think this orange wine is a touch too bitter and could have done with more sugar. It has the taste of unsweetened marmalade - all peel and no juice. Claire disagrees, which is good as there are another eleven bottles. She thinks it would go well with food - curry particularly.

This was the first alcohol I had drunk for nearly a week (if one discounts a bottle of clove & ginger) and was to celebrate having finished my antibiotics. I made a cake to go with it whilst Claire was at WYSO - and continuing the theme, it was Delia's Marmalade Cake. Maybe I should turn my hand to baking: the cake was rather more successful than the wine.

If you want to see how I made this wine, you can either look at the post before, or click here for the actual version I made in 2016

Saturday 18 March 2017

Orange Wine 2017 - The Making Of...

Today is the first day since 3rd March that I have not had stabbing pain in my jaw and that I have not been on a four-hourly diet of pain killers. It is 12th March - nine days after my coronectomy - and until half an hour ago I was starting to believe that everything would be alright. However, I made the mistake of trying to play the bassoon just now. I got no further than putting the reed in my mouth and realising that this was not a good idea. Now, of course, I am worrying that I will never play the bassoon again. Still, I have wine-making as my other hobby, and I don't need a working mouth for that.

Today, after a brief spell in the garden helping Claire to create a herb bed, I started making my orange wine. As ever, this is a double batch for which I needed 24 oranges. Earlier in the week I had picked up three 'family size' bags from Sainsburys. On the whole I prefer to avoid supermarkets for my fruit and veg, but in this instance my inner miser (which is rather less 'inner' than that phrase suggests) won out and I went for what was cheap.

Taking the outermost peel off oranges
I took the outer most layer of peel off 12 of the oranges, and for once was nearly successful in avoiding the pith. This took about an hour and I avoided boredom by listening to a crime drama with Meera Syal on Radio 4 Catch-Up. I have covered this peel with 2 pints of boiling water and I will pour the water (minus the peel) into my bucket when I return from work tomorrow.

Orange peel to be covered with 2 pints of water

I squeezed all 24 oranges, measured the juice (3¾ pints) and poured this into the bucket. To this, I added 9 pints of cold water and 5½ lbs of sugar. Because the water is cold I have not had to wait to put in the yeast and rounded teaspoon of nutrient. This year I am experimenting by not putting in a teaspoon of pectolase. My hypothesis is that the wine will clear without it.

Wine in the bucket

On Friday night (17th March) the wine went into its demijohns. This took little time as there was virtually nothing to sieve out - only a bit of pulp - but I was careful to leave a half-pint gap between the liquid and the top of the demijohn. I don't want a repeat of last month's prune & parsnip shambles with wine froth all over our bathroom. As ever, orange wine at this stage is the happiest of yellows.

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

Thursday 16 March 2017

Clove & Ginger Wine - Third Bottle (3), 12th-13th March 2017

I chose Clove & Ginger as Sunday night's bottle for two reasons. Firstly, it has virtually no alcohol. This is important because I am on antibiotics. Secondly, cloves are famous for healing tooth-ache. This is important because I am recovering from a coronectomy and my mouth is still not right. I made the mistake of trying to do ten minutes' bassoon practice. Just blowing down the reed (and making no sound) caused me to worry that I may never play the bassoon again. So, what about the wine? Its taste was certainly distinctive. Claire said that it would numb the mouth and stimulate the bowels. Well, the mouth was duly numbed, but I am uncovinced otherwise. The wine was far from unpleasant, but not one to drink by the gallon.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Eleventh Bottle (B6), 9th-10th March 2017

Whilst I was standing in First Class on my way back from London, I received a text from Claire. "Have opened a bottle of blackcurrant wine." This did not make me feel any better. My jaw was still hurting from last week's operation, it now having got infected. Being on antibiotics meant that I couldn't even look forward to a glass on my return. And the train I should have been on was cancelled due to overhead power-line collapse south of Doncaster - hence spending my journey stood up.

Claire and Rachel had very nearly finished the bottle by the time I finally got home - leaving just a mouthful, which I thought would be okay for my Friday night alcohol (notwithstanding the antibiotics) and which I anticipated with delight. On Friday I asked whether that mouthful remained. It did not.

A thoroughly unsatisfactory bottle.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Second Bottle (B2), 5th March 2017

Whilst this bottle was drunk in happier circumstances than the last, 'joyful' is not really a word I would use. This was the first alcohol I had consumed for 5 days, on account of having a coronectomy on Friday under General Anaesthetic. Of my original four wisdom teeth, I now only have the roots of my bottom left remaining. I thought the sweet, semi-medicinal flavour of prune & parsnip would be beneficial. Whislt the wine itself was everything that prune & parsnip should be, my physical well-being declined over the evening and I got packed off to bed, having only had half of my food and with wine left in my glass. With any luck, this will be the last time my teeth give me any bother.

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

Monday 6 March 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Twelfth Bottle (D4), 28th February 2017

This year I shall be giving nothing up for Lent. It has been a policy of mine for the last 46 years. But that did not mean that pancakes were to be denied on Shrove Tuesday. We were invited to Mary's to flip pancakes, stuff them with all sorts of exciting things and take part in a pancake-related quiz. Mostly this was questions about her home village of Olney - where a pancake race takes place every year amongst the female parishioners. It was a lovely evening, and my crab apple wine was (genuinely) enjoyed by the assembled throng - all four of us. I didn't start the drive back from Ilkley until a quarter to eleven, and for a Tuesday night, that is life in the fast lane.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Elderberry Wine - Tenth Bottle (B2), 26th February 2017

Claire asked for elderberry wine specifically and who am I to deny her? We were having moussaka - our first meat for about a fortnight - and a heavy, complex red was the right sort of wine. The recipe was from Delia Smith's The Complete Cookery Course which I was given as a birthday present more than half my lifetime ago. It is still my most useful cookery book.

The most notable activity today was finishing off our 'shaded garden'. This is the area most overshadowed by the sycamore and I have spent the last few weeks (supervised by Claire, naturally) creating an area a foot deep to be covered by pond liner (to retain mositure - though I have made several holes to allow some drainage), and then for the earth to be shovelled back in. Today we planted many ferns, wild garlic bulbs, an anemone, lily of the valley, stinking iris, a toad lily and more besides - all of which cope well with shade. Now all we need to do is wait. Gardening is not an activity for immediate gratification.

Our shaded garden

Thursday 2 March 2017

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - Fifth Bottle (B2), 25th February 2017

I think this is one of the best white wines that I have ever made. It is light, refreshing, summery and has a subtle mint jab. Just delicious. I put it in the fridge because I thought Claire deserved a treat after bad news about her job on Friday. In other attempts to win the "Best Husband 2017" award, I spent the day shopping, tidying, washing clothes, sorting through compost bins (not as disgusting a job as I had anticipated) and cooking a meal of Greek-style fish stew, pan-fried new potatoes and spinach. (Claire was at a viola masterclass in Ilkley for much of this.) The fish stew was lovely, and simple - always a good combination.