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 31 August 2017

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Seventh Bottle (B1), 28th August 2017

It has been a glorious bank holiday weekend, and that is not something that can be said very often. The skies have been unremittingly blue and the sun has beaten down. We have spent it in the Midlands; initially spending time with Rachael, Paul & Myles (which was an utter delight) and then seeing Helen (briefly) followed by staying over with Catherine and entertaining her two Jack Russells. It has felt like a mini-holiday, and, to extend that feel, we have shared a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti on a Monday night. The wine is alright - it benefits from being chilled - but is nothing memorable.

Catherine and Arthur (a Jack Russell)

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Ginger Wine - Fourth Bottle (2), 24th August 2017

On the whole, Thursdays are not a full bottle night. Generally they are not a 'best bottle' night either. However, Claire had some dreadful news at work (her shiny new 3 year contract has - due to an HR cock-up - turned into a 2 year contract) and this was the best way I could help. When it came to pouring the final glass I made sure Claire got the larger one, and this earned me brownie points.

Ginger wine, or at least this vintage, is terrific. It has a bite, but one that is playful. I tried adding a modicum of whisky and in fact that was not an improvement.

Monday 28 August 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (B2), 20th August 2017

It has been one of those domestic days. I have cooked one lentil curry, baked two loaves of bread, washed up at least four times and started my nectarine wine. Consequently I am now ready for bed and just that little bit drunk. I blame the blackcurrant wine combined with the not-having-eaten-very-much.

Friday 25 August 2017

Nectarine Wine - The Making Of...

My wine making thumbs have been twitching. Having made Blackcurrant in July this year, it looked like August was to be an empty month. This, of course, would be sacrilege, and Something Had To Be Done. On Saturday morning, 18th August, I dropped Claire back at the house with our week's shopping and drove to Harehills, promising that I wouldn't come back with anything too exotic. My thoughts were either Tomato or Nectarine - I have not done either - depending on which were cheap.

Nectarines were being sold twelve for a pound and that fitted the bill nicely. The argument 'against' is that my attempts at peach wine have been Bloody Awful, and nectarines are closely related. The argument 'for' is alphabetical. My only other N wine has been Nettle, which Claire described as tasting like chopped liver and fag ash, and this has to be better. Right?

The Stones
Anyway, I started the wine on Sunday, making it up as I went along. I weighed out 5 lbs of nectarines - which came to 30 in number, washed them and chopped them into small pieces, discarding the stones. (The stones themselves weighed 11 oz). I put the fruit into my bucket and gave it a thorough mashing. Having read that peaches give very little body to a wine, and I presume the same is true of nectarines, I added 8 oz of minced sultanas. At this stage the mixture looked like particularly colourful vomit, but smelt divine.

I added 2 lbs 12 oz sugar and poured over six and a half (UK) pints of boiling water. About eight hours later, when the mix had cooled, I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase, tannin and nutrient.

Particularly colourful vomit
On Thursday night, 24th August, I sifted out the solids and put the liquid into its demijohn. I could have used at least half a pint less water in the recipe. The wine is an attractive peachy-orange, but I hear from Facebook posts that it will take an age to clear.

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

Thursday 24 August 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Seventh Bottle (A5), 19th August 2017

Of the wines I suggested to accompany Chicken & Mushroom Pie, Claire chose Prune & Parsnip. It was a good choice - 'Prune & Parsnip' sounds like a wine that comes from the early twentieth century and ' Chicken & Mushroom Pie' also has that feel to it. Perhaps butternut squash baked with lemons, tomatoes and chillies does not, but no matter. Both food and wine were excellent, and shared with Bob & Judith, who have come to visit for the weekend.

Bob has spent much of his time here fixing things (a violin bow, our bar stools, the Grandfather clock) and explaining the Longitudinal Problem, why it mattered and how John Harrison solved it. He is a useful and interesting father-in-law.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (2), 19th August 2017

Nostell Priory is not what I had imagined. Where I was expecting fourteenth century ruins next to a basic visitor centre, there stood a huge eighteenth century stately home stuffed with art and antiques, a kitchen garden and an adventure playground. We took Bob & Judith and met up with Jayne and Poppy as 'something to do', and it was excellent. I cannot recommend it enough. I could have spent hours there. However, we needed to be back. After all, there was wine to be drunk, of which this was the first bottle.

Claire thinks that Crab Apple & Strawberry is more than the sum of its parts, though I prefer the individual flavours. Certainly this does not go with sweet things. I had a slice of Judith's fruitcake when drinking a glass and the wine became too sharp, too dry.

NB The Video is of me on a zip wire at Nostell Priory. The 'ooh' makes me laugh and laugh.

Monday 21 August 2017

Elderberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (A4), 18th August 2017

When Bob and Judith visit, Claire cooks up a storm and we get through a lot of wine. Friday night was no exception: lamb stew with aubergine sauce, and peppers stuffed with bulgar wheat, accompanied by two and a half bottles of wine, of which this was the last. All aspects were lovely - though all we had the energy to do afterwards was sit in the front room and eat chocolate. By ten o'clock everyone was in bed, having had a thoroughly satisfying evening.

Sunday 20 August 2017

Elderflower, Rhubarb & Mint Wine - Second Bottle (3), 18th August 2017

Bob & Judith have come for the weekend, and I opened this as an aperitif (if you don't count the half bottle of wine that we 'tidied up' beforehand). I made them guess the ingredients and they failed miserably, with Judith running through all citrus flavours. When told, Judith and I agreed that rhubarb was prominent, though Claire said the dominant flavour was elderflower. Whichever, this was an excellent and refreshing wine. Bob said he thought it was about 13%, whereas everyone else gave it an eight out of ten.

Saturday 19 August 2017

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (B3), 17th-18th August 2017

I took this bottle to Rydal with me, but there it remained undrunk (unlike me). Instead, Claire opened it while I was out playing trios with Pat & Peter. I had a good-night glass on my return, leaving half the bottle for Friday night, where it was shared with Bob & Judith as our first drink of the evening. This was known as 'tidying up' and therefore a helpful thing to do. The wine is still very good: the fruit taste is abundant and whilst lighter than a true red wine it manages to avoid thinness.

Monday 14 August 2017

Blackberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (A3), 13th August 2017

Summer has returned, but maybe for one day only. We had a wonderful June and early July, but since then the weather has reverted to the more familiar grey skies and drizzle. However, Sunday was lovely. I spent much of it staring into our pond, watching the four surprising fish ('surprising' because we didn't put them there) trying to fit under a lily pad and occasionally hunt for tadpoles.

We drank most of the bottle in the garden, catching the last of the day's warmth, before heading inside for a meal of lamb-stuffed marrow. Both wine and food were glorious. You can't beat lazy Sundays.

Friday 11 August 2017

Lemon & Lime Wine - Final Bottle (6), 8th-9th August 2017

I had remembered this wine as somewhat worse that this bottle proved. Yes, it was too sweet - and in the unlikely event that I make it again, I will reduce the sugar. But it was drinkable, and not the Punishment Wine that a bottle opened on a Tuesday might suggest. It was unmistakably lemon-flavoured and more like lemonade than wine.

Both nights I drank my glass while watching I Know Who You Are, which is a superb Spanish thriller that surprises at every turn.

Monday 7 August 2017

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Wine - First Bottle (2), 3rd August 2017

This bottle was a well deserved celebration for performing the solo bassoon part in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. I have been practising for weeks, and it went better than I could have hoped. There is nothing more thrilling than playing well to an audience. Consequently I drank most of this wine myself, though shared some of it around. It has a sharp, tart taste where both blackcurrant and gooseberry are pronounced. Janet thought it was wonderful, but I am struggling to remember who else at Rydal I pressed it upon.

(I would like to share the video of the cadenza, which is on Facebook, but I am struggling to post it. You may be able to see it here.)

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

If you want to read a fuller account of how it felt to perform, keep on reading:

The orchestra started up and this was it; we were really going to do it. There are about eighty bars before the soloists come in and I spent them trying not to shake. And then, all of a sudden, we were playing. The notes were there, doing what they should, piecing themselves together and I was partly responsible. I certainly wasn't relaxed, not at the beginning, but the sheer exhilarating terror started to lessen. The entries were made and bars rest were counted correctly. This was going well. This was getting towards fun. The first movement is both the best and the easiest and when it was over, the audience and orchestra applauded. The second movement was slower than any of us would have liked - it requires sustained, stable notes and these are not comfortable on the lip. I felt my first passage of semiquavers slipping away from my fingers but I wrestled them back into control and the remainder of the movement played itself. Then it was the Variations. We started at quite a lick and those bars of semiquavers at the beginning, which I have been practising so hard, were perfect. Not a dropped note or a fluff among them. Variation two was less good (and my personal low of the piece) but once the music is running past you, all you can do is run at its speed and hope to regain your footing. The variations were all slower than I would have liked - we were following the conductor's beat, which was an error but difficult to break out of. However, the tempo was not so slow as to kill the music and at the end we got a huge round of applause. Then we did the first movement again. This time I was entirely relaxed. I had already done this and knew I could do it again - and it was fabulous (if I do say so myself). I could not have been more pleased with the result.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Second Bottle (C6), 31st July 2017

It is my annual week at Rydal Hall playing with the Genin Orchestra, and I am having a marvellous time. Tonight I opened a bottle of rose petal wine and insisted that people should have a try. The Reverend Clack said it had the aroma of a dry, crisp champagne and then enthused about its rose taste. Of my other tasters, only one - Carolyn the Percussionist - pulled a face that said "Never Again". Curiously, no-one asked for a second glass and I drank about half the bottle myself.