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.

Sunday 30 April 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (E4), 22nd-23rd April 2017

Claire has been at a String Quartet course all weekend and on Saturday evening I was her guest for the private concert given by the Bingham Quartet, who were tutoring the course. They played a 1998 piece by Stephen Speer, Shostakovich's 8th Quartet and something by Smetana. All were intense with moments of anger and pain.

Watching a professional quartet is exhilerating - it is so personal. Afterwards we steadied our nerves by drinking most of a bottle of crab apple wine, which went well with the black-eyed bean curry I made. Two errors crept into the making - it was meant to be black eyed peas (but I didn't have any of them) and I mistook an unlabelled jar of paprika for the turmeric required. Yes, I know one is red and the other is yellow. All I can say is that I am an idiot. Still tasted nice, though.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Tenth Bottle (B6), 18th-19th April 2017

This bottle marked Easter's last hurrah. Most of Easter Monday was spent in York seeing Mom, Rachael, Myles & Paul. We didn't do very much, but in an entirely satisfactory way. Mom beat both Claire and me at Scrabble which Rachael watched and Myles slept, but it was close. We opened the Rose Petal Wine on our return to Leeds and I spent a frustrating ten minutes willing our internet to work sufficiently so that I could watch Broadchurch's final episode live. This, of course, failed - so I stayed up late seeking solace in rose petal wine until the internet decided to work and I could watch the episode. Both the programme and the wine were entirely satisfactory. The taxi driver was not the villain.

I spent the afternoon entertaining my wife and nephew

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Third Bottle (B6), 16th April 2017

We had two bottles to tidy up, but it was Easter Sunday and a glass and a half of wine each was definitely not going to be enough. So I opened, and we finished, this bottle of prune & parsnip. It was the right wine for a spicy egg biryani. The sweet depth of prune & parsnip complemented the caramalised onions and cut through the curry's heat.

With the bottle having been finished, I made a couple of bush teas and we settled down to Doctor Who. The new companion is excellent so far and I am so pleased it is back.

Monday 24 April 2017

Blackberry Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (A3), 15th-16th April 2017

This was meant to be elderberry wine. Claire had made a fabulous goulash with large chunks of succulent beef and ventured under the stairs for a bottle. Now, in Claire's defence, the 'BB' I had written on the top of the cork could, if one was careless or in a hurry, be mistaken for an 'EB'. But my label (which I am looking at as I write) definitely definitely says 'Blackberry'. And we had a bottle of this earlier in the week. My policy of spacing flavours consumed has taken a battering. Still a good wine, though.

Sunday 23 April 2017

Kiwi Fruit Wine - Final Bottle (4), 14th-16th April 2017

Sooz claimed that she could taste Kiwi Fruit in this wine. Neither Claire nor I could. Having left the wine four years since making, it has developed the flavour of generic home-made wine that has stood around too long. I get the same taste from Julia's wines. It was still drinkable, but 'drinkable' does not translate as 'pleasant'.

We drank most the bottle on Good Friday, which was a lazy day interspersed with a trip out to Saltaire and plenty more booze. The wine was then untouched on Saturday, and finished after we had drunk the good stuff on Sunday. Easter Day was another relaxed day - it is a less frantic holiday than Christmas - in which Jayne came over, Claire finished crocheting a hare's head, and I decided not to make Kiwi Wine again.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (B2), 13th-14th April 2017

Opened on Maundy Thursday (when a bottle of rhubarb wine between three was insufficient) and finished on Good Friday. On her first glass, Claire thought that this orange wine was particularly poor. Whilst I agree that 2015's vintage was better, I considered her opinion to be unduly harsh. She then remembered that she had spent the last two minutes swilling with unpleasant mouthwash. Following on from that, there were no complaints. Sooz did not pick up the orange flavour until instructed to think 'peel' rather than 'juice'.

Because Sooz is staying we spent Friday afternoon wandering around Saltaire and came to the conclusion that the mill is rather more interesting than the village. The shop selling kitchen equipment and furniture is ridiculous, though: £600 for two champagne glasses; £4,000 for an armchair. I was careful not to touch.

The sort of furniture sold at Saltaire for ridiculous prices

Friday 21 April 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Ninth Bottle (B2), 13th April 2017

To mark the occasion of 2017's first Rhubarb Cream Pie, I opened a bottle of rhubarb wine. Our garden is producing rhubarb in healthy quantities, which bodes well for next month's brewing. But whilst rhubarb wine is good (it is the one I make which is closest to real wine), rhubarb pie is better. It is a taste of my childhood, and you can't improve on that.

In other exciting news, our stairs and landing now have a new carpet. Who says that my life is not a thrill a minute?

Our newly carpeted stairs

Thursday 20 April 2017

Fig Wine - Fourth Bottle (2), 12th April 2017

Sooz has come to stay over Easter so I have welcomed her with one of my best wines. Actually, we began with a gin & tonic. This may not have been the best idea - I do have work tomorrow. Anyway, we all agreed that the wine is a good one - very figgy with a nutty aroma - and the bottle is now empty.

My father has just rung - he is off to America for five weeks and rang to say 'goodbye'. I get the impression that each time he goes, he is never absolutely certain he will survive until he is due back. Generally he won't ring otherwise.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Blackberry Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (A5), 10th-11th April 2017

It is rare that I open a bottle on a Monday, and even rarer that I do before six. But Claire is on holiday and it was her alter-ego - Cornelia Gruntfuttock - 's birthday. That was excuse enough. I had a WYSO committee meeting, which was a pleasant way to pass the time - talking about music and concerts and conductors.

On Tuesday we each had a glass before Claire left to play string quintets and I settled in to watch the penultimate episode of Broadchurch, which has been fantastic this series - and I still think that the taxi driver is the main villain.

Broadchurch Taxi Driver

Monday 17 April 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (A6), 9th-10th April 2017

I had to delve into the crypt to retrieve this bottle, but that at least meant it was cool (and covered in spider webs). Sunday was the warmest April day I can remember - in some parts of the country (though not Leeds) it reached 25o. Much of the day, consequently, was spent in the garden - which is looking fabulous at the moment. We had Rachel, Duncan & Ruth round for brunch and sat under the apple tree with coffee and pastries.

I opened the wine this evening while making this year's ginger wine. It is a good vintage of crab apple, and now our brand new crab apple tree is putting out proto-blossom, I have high hopes that it will not be my last.

Our crab apple tree

Sunday 16 April 2017

Ginger Wine 2017 - The Making Of...

April is a cruel month. It is on the verge of foraging season but that really only produces nettles and dandelions. I made dandelion wine last year and nettle wine about ten years ago. It is too soon to make either again. Therefore, for a decent wine, I need to buy my ingredients. This year I was in a quandary about what to make. Should I give Kiwi Fruit another go, or experiment with Tomato or Carrot? On 6th April I opened a bottle of Ginger Wine. It was so good that my mind was made up. Ginger it was to be, and I have followed my 2016 recipe precisely. If this wine is the same, I will promote ginger to a regular flavour rather than it making the occasional guest appearance.

I bought my ingredients on Saturday morning, 8th April, from Ruby's but started making the wine on Sunday, on account of playing in a concert in Pontefract on Saturday. The weather was so good the whole weekend that doing anything other than sitting quietly in the garden seemed like a chore.

Anyway, on Sunday afternoon I measured out 5½ oz of ginger and took the outer rough skin off it, though was not overly fussy in doing so. I sliced the ginger into the thinnest slices I could, reasoning that the larger the surface area, the more gingery the taste. Next I took the outer peel off four lemons, doing my best to avoid the pith (though 'my best' would only be classified as 'adequate' by Ofsted). Both the ginger and peel went into the bucket. I minced a pound of sultanas and put these in too. I squeezed all four lemons, added the juice and then boiled 3½ pints of water and put this in.

Whilst I suspect it makes no difference, I waited 24 hours before adding 2 lbs 8 oz sugar and another 3½ pints of boiling water.

On Tuesday morning, 11th April, I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase. Through the week I stirred the wine once or twice a day and today, Saturday 15th April, I put the wine into its demijohn. This took longer than I had anticipated, and I blame the minced sultanas. The wine smells lovely, though, and there is a gingery tinge to its colour.

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

Friday 14 April 2017

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (B1), 7th April 2017

This wine is better than I had remembered. It has matured nicely and has developed a sherry taste, while still being distinctly fruity. We took it to Ros's for an evening of wine, nibbles and conversation. It was meant to be Book Group, but so many people could not make it that we have postponed. This allowed us to catch up with Ros properly - it has been too long.

We drank a toast to Julia, finished the bottle quickly, opened another (real wine this time) and finished that too. The walk home did not feel as long as the walk there. Funny that.

Thursday 13 April 2017

Ginger Wine - Second Bottle (5), 6th-8th April 2017

I make a damn fine ginger wine. This wine was so good that I have decided to make ginger wine again this year - it may even become a regular. The ginger taste is pronounced; it is a drink with a zing. But there are subtleties too, and those are provided by the lemon.

We drank most of this bottle on Thursday because Claire is on holiday this coming week and didn't need to worry about getting up the next morning. Our last glass was saved for Saturday night on our return from a concert in Pontefract: Mozart's Requiem and the middle third of The Messiah. Oh, We Like Sheep.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Ya Ya Pear Wine - First Bottle (2), 5th-6th April 2017

Well, this is quite an odd wine. It isn't disgusting or bland - and those were my two "Most Likely Adjectives". However, 'Nice' doesn't really feature either. There is a chemical taste to it, reminiscent of pear-drops. Claire describes the wine as 'astringent'. It is drinkable - albeit a mid-week bottle - and I'm satisfied with that. Good colour as well - the barest hint of pink.

This evening I finished the bottle while ditching TalkTalk from our lives. Our internet service has been getting increasingly awful. Last night it took me an hour to watch 9 minutes of Broadchurch, and something needed to be done. Claire suggested that I ask to be released without the early exit fee. I did, and it worked!

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

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Twelfth Bottle (D4), 1st April 2017

I gave this bottle to first-cousin-once-removed Adam to open. We were in Hertfordshire, having been to Uncle Brian and Auntie Jan's 50th Wedding Anniversary. Instead of pulling the cork out, he pushed it further into the bottle's neck. I got a teaspoon and completed the job. The first glass had many bits of cork, so I had that, and the flavour was unaffected. It remained excellent. Becky refused a glass, and is therefore my least favourite cousin. It was a fabulous evening, full of extended family gossip.

Sunday 9 April 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Tenth Bottle (A3), 30th March - 3rd April 2017

I have struggled to remember when this bottle was opened, but it must have been Thursday. On Tuesday I went out for a curry with Darren & Nigel, and on Wednesday we were out giving constructive criticism to a piano, clarinet and horn trio (though I mostly turned pages). So, Thursday it was - and I made a delicious tortilla, which this wine accompanied. It being a Thursday we held off on finishing the bottle - until Monday, though there was barely a glass each. I had mine listening to a quirky documentary on Radio 4 about a man who corrects apostrophes on shop signs in the dead of night. Excellent stuff (as was the wine).

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti Wine - Third Bottle (B4), 26th March 2017

Despite the unseasonably warm weather (I spent the morning in a T-shirt), I drank this wine in front of the stove. Hot spring days have surprisingly cold spring nights. During the morning I did manly gardening - removing boulders and tearing tree roots out of the front garden with my bare hands. The afternoon was spent playing Bruckner indoors, looking forlornly at the sunshine outside. Still, the wine was fine - more of a rosé than a red, and once I made that adjustment it ceased being disappointing.

The other thing I did while drinking this wine was to book a week's holiday in Corfu. Gulp!

Monday 3 April 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Ninth Bottle (A5), 25th-26th March 2017

Mostly this bottle was a "second bottle after the concert" bottle, but there was still enough for two small glasses on Sunday. One bottle is not enough between four, particularly when the adrenalin is up. It was only Claire's adrenalin, mind. I was in the audience with Rachel & Duncan. Consequently, Claire had the lion's share - and deservedly so.

Both Saturday and Sunday had fabulous weather - better than many summer days, so rose petal wine somehow felt like the correct flavour.