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 December 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti - First Bottle (A3), 25th December 2017

Merry Christmas. I am writing this whilst still wearing a paper crown from my Christmas cracker. The trinket was a disappointing key ring and I cannot now remember the joke. Anyway, to accompany roast venison, I opened my first bottle of Xmas Tutti Fruti 2016 . The overall consensus was 'good' though I think no more than that. There is a prominent rose petal taste and I think this is too strong. Sooz said that if she hadn't seen the wine's colour, she would have believed it a Gooseberry, and I think this is down to its sharpness. The wine has a bite, and I think a depth and complexity which will improve as it ages.

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

Friday 29 December 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2017 - The Making Of...

It is 23rd December and I am only just now starting to feel in the mood for Christmas. This morning I collected a huge slab of venison for Monday's meal and tonight Claire and I will go carolling around the neighbourhood. Work has finished for the year and I feel I can start to relax.

A close up of fruits from the freezer
One of the Christmas traditions is, of course, making the Xmas Tutti Fruti Wine. This brings with it many seasonal abstract nouns to Claire, for the freezer (having been stuffed with fruit for five months) is now empty: 'joy', 'gladness', 'wonder', 'peace' to name just a few.

Those frozen fruit in the bucket
I have more fruit in the wine than I have used before - 9 lbs 9 oz - meaning that I toyed with making a triple batch, but have settled on the usual double. In the approximate order in which I extracted the fruit, I have used:
  • 1 lb 15 oz blackcurrants
  • 12 oz strawberries
  • ½ oz red raspberries and 4¾ oz yellow raspberries
  • 1 lb 9 oz blackberries
  • 2 oz damsons
  • 1½ oz loganberries
  • 1¾ oz redcurrants
  • 2 lbs 3 oz gooseberries (of which one gooseberry only was red - the others from our red gooseberry bush all having been gobbled by pigeons)
  • ¼ oz fuchsia berries
  • 2½ oz sloes
  • 14 oz rhubarb
  • 2 oz rose petals
  • 1 lb 3 oz elderberries; and
  • 1¾ oz blueberries
  • Plus (of course) 1 satsuma
The fruit defrosted
I measured all the freezer fruit yesterday and put it in my bucket to defrost overnight. This afternoon I mashed it with a potato masher, added 5 lbs 12 oz sugar and poured over 12 pints of boiling water. I made my wish for the coming year while mashing - last year's was that I hoped Claire's job would be sorted and secure, and that has - eventually - mostly come true.

Fruit mashed with sugar added
The yeast, nutrient and pectolase all went in on Christmas Eve (though several hours before the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols) and I have put this into its two demijohns tonight, 28th December, leaving a large gap in each demijohn (with two 'topping up' bottles prepared) so that the fermentation can die down. I could have cut the water used by two pints. But the taste at this stage is sweet and fruity, and it is a pleasing dark red in colour.

The wine in its demijohns (and the snow)

Thursday 28 December 2017

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Eighth Bottle (B3), 18th-19th November 2017

NB - This post is out of order. I must have forgotten to type it up when I originally wrote it. The Space-Time Continuum will shortly be restored.


This weekend has had thrice the number of concerts as bottles of wine. Claire played in two - an all Haydn concert on Saturday night (very good) and Dido & Aeneas on Sunday (less so, apparently). I played in one on Sunday afternoon - Scheherazade, The Firebird and Sleeping Beauty, and this concert was terrific. But it all left little time for drinking more than is sensible. If I were to use one word to describe this Tutti Fruti, it would be 'Insipid', though 'Disappointing' would follow closely. There is just no depth to it and no real hint of its fruit.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Gooseberry Wine 2012 - Final Bottle (6), 24th -25th December 2017

Leaving this bottle nearly four years since the last one has changed its flavour, but only marginally for the better. It now has the taste of an aged country wine - so broadly sherry like - though there is a hint of its original sharpness. Far from undrinkable, but not your actual Nice.

I opened this after the annual Christmas Eve Bentcliffe Drive Party, but as that involved several glasses of real wine (made from grapes!), we did not finish the bottle. That task was saved for Christmas Day, during present opening. Sooz, Bob and Judith were here, meaning that it was the usual present lucky-dip. My best one was a tea-towel with the Periodic Table printed on it. There wasn't a worst, but the most ephemeral was a bag of Pork Scratchings.

Monday 25 December 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty-second bottle (C2), 20th December 2017

I obviously care about work. Today I came home disappointed, frustrated and on the verge of miserable. I started the day needing eight exchanges for year-end and aiming to get four of these. This evening I cam home with having achieved only one, with three plot buyers having pulled out. It means, only, that the business as a whole will make slightly less profit for the year. But I find that I care about that. Despite it being a Wednesday, I knew that this would be a whole-bottle night - and crab apple is a fine mid-week bottle. With any luck, it will help me sleep. Over the last week I have had long periods of wakefulness - not exactly worrying about work, but with that always being a background hum.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 15th December 2017

There was a definite first hit of gooseberry flavour in this wine, before blackcurrant became dominant. It is a sharp taste, and a light red - good for a Friday night after a monumentally busy week at work. It was a quiet night in, gathering energy for the weekend - which was to involve two Christmas parties and a titanic Christmas Card session. The parties were fun, the cards not so much.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A5), 14th December 2017

In the ongoing saga of Claire's job, what started off as a 3 year contract, changed to a 2 year contract, reverted to 3 years after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, has now - somehow - become a 5 year fixed term. This is excellent news and called for celebration in the form of a bottle of Prune & Parsnip wine, though it has left me irritated that the last, dreadful, five months could have been avoided. Still, it gave us excuse enough for an entire bottle of wine on a Thursday night and Claire is now employed until she is 52. Happy times!

Sunday 17 December 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Sixth Bottle (A2), 10th December 2017

I forgot to chill this wine. However, December did that job for me. It is bitterly cold and for that reason I have not left the house today. There is widespread snow throughout the UK, though not in Leeds. It has been a pleasure, though, to have a remarkably lazy weekend. The only productive thing I have done is to make bread. The wine has done its job, to the extent that I can barely keep my eyes open and it is only just past nine. It was its usual exotic, dry, floral flavour and a good pink colour too. But now I really must go to bed. I'll leave Claire to deal with the cats.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A1), 9th December 2017

We needed a decent bottle of Blackberry to go with steak, and this vintage is far superior to that of 2016. It really is a splendid wine - rich and fruity, yet dry enough to complement medium-rare steak in blue-cheese sauce.

We had a lazy Saturday, but I needed that - having had a manic week of work, and interrupted nights as the cats shat on our landing at 3 a.m. every morning - ignoring the litter tray placed there specially. It is very wearing - and a good job that otherwise Kato and Wiggy are affectionate and beautiful. However, this problem may have just been solved with different cat litter. Fingers crossed.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Tenth Bottle (B1), 3rd December 2017

It is a joy to have cats again. Today, we have been joined by two white cats - Kato and Wiggy. They are so white that it looks as if their artist has only drawn an outline and forgot to colour it in. Either that, or we have two ghost cats. They are affectionate and seem to be settling in (to the extent that Kato has tried to buy his food and what was my dining room chair now, apparently, belongs to Wiggy). We picked them up from Maurice at nine, and then have spent a lazy day getting to know them.

Of course, the wine that I opened had to be what and, as it is a significant event - getting our second set of cats - it had to be a good one. Rhubarb wine fit the bill nicely - definitely the white I make that is closest to real wine. Almost Chardonnay in flavour.


Tuesday 5 December 2017

Blackberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (B2), 26th-28th November 2017

On Sunday our house was quiet again. All visitors had left the day before and, whilst I love entertaining, having one's own space back is always a relief. It is a measure of how good the Thanksgiving holiday was that we had no wine on Saturday and only half a bottle of blackberry (which is now fizzy) on Sunday.

We finished the bottle having returned from meeting our next cats: Kato and Wiggy (which we have decided is short for Wilgefortis, and that makes it better). They are 6-year-old siblings, pure white and needed a home urgently. He is a bruiser, she is beautiful and both are affectionate.

St Wilgefortis - patron saint of bearded ladies

Sunday 3 December 2017

Elderberry Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 24th November 2017

Jayne came round for Thanksgiving II on Friday night. Whilst much of the alcohol ration was provided by Prosecco and Whisky Macs, I also opened a bottle of elderberry. Paying no attention at all to what people thought of it, I am unable to report whether it was popular or not. The bottle was emptied, which must mean it was at least acceptable, and I enjoyed it - though a young elderberry has a certain roughness to it.

I disgraced myself by having to go to bed before 10:30, leaving Claire and the guests to continue their carousing.

They have missed 'young elderberry' from this list

Friday 1 December 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (C4), 23rd-24th November 2017

I think I drank most of this bottle; I was well-sauced by the time I went to bed on Thursday. This was my reward for a day of hard-graft. It was Thanksgiving and Claire had not taken the day off work. Never having roasted a turkey, made a nut-loaf, assembled cranberry sauce or prepared a meal for seven, I was somewhat out of my comfort zone. But it all seemed to work and I even had some time for tidying. Hence the vast quantity of alcohol (Thanksgiving marks the opening of whisky-mac season too) including much rose-petal wine. And no thumping headache on Friday morning. Result!