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.

Wednesday 31 January 2018

Mango Wine - Fifth Bottle (3), 26th-27th January 2018

I see that it is exactly a year since I last opened a bottle of Mango Wine. It will be some time before I open the final bottle. This was truly horrible. I only once got a hint of a taste resembling fruit. Otherwise the wine was dry and bitter and did not even have the grace to be interesting. Of course we finished the bottle - though it took a Friday and Saturday to do so.

On Saturday Chris and Kate were here. After a bottle of champagne, to celebrate their engagement (my brother, getting married!) I poured them each a glass of Mango. Kate was distinctly unimpressed and declined to finish her glass. How rude!

Monday 29 January 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Second Bottle (A5), 25th-26th January 2018

It is not often that we have steak, and when we do, we have it rare. Our freezer is in desperate need of a defrost, so we are gradually eating our way through its contents. This steak dates from December 2016. It was still delicious, with a wonderful mushroom sauce and potatoes fried with expertise (by me). Of course we needed something red to go with it, and this Christmas Tutti Fruti is, in fact, rather good. There is a slight fizz and plenty of flavour. It being Burns Night, I had already had a stiff whisky and it being a Thursday I though it unwise to finish the bottle. The remnants were saved for tonight, before opening a bottle of Nasty Mango Wine.

Our freezer isn't quite this bad!

Sunday 28 January 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Seventh Bottle (B1), 21st January 2018

Drinking three bottles on a Sunday night between four is excessive. I felt croaky the following day, blaming a nascent cold, but knowing that alcohol had its part to play. However, we had just come back from an Airedale Concert, where Brahms' 2nd Symphony went particularly well, and we were entertaining Rachel, Duncan and Ruth. So, I have my excuses.

The Rose Petal followed a bottle of Prosecco, and was a good wine. It is Rachel's favourite of mine and I think this vintage is as interesting and tasty as any I have made. Still, I should really have stopped there.

Friday 26 January 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (B4), 19th January 2018

This bottle of Prune & Parsnip was particularly good. It had a rounded depth to it and was easy to drink. It was our Friday night bottle and, as is often the case at the end of the week, we drank it to aged-vegetable curry and then sat in front of the fire, reading, before an early night. My book is East West Street by Philippe Sands - which deals with the author's family history 1900-1950, Nazi atrocities and the development of International Law. And ideal book while slipping into inebriation.

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - First Bottle (4), 18th-19th January 2018

I had feared the worst for this wine. It was made only tick off a letter and there was no way that it would even be drinkable. Therefore, it is with some astonishment that I can report it is actually really rather good. Inca Berry & Raisin is a dark golden colour and has a solid wine taste (I suspect that will be the raisins). Claire is less enthusiastic, describing the wine as 'Inoffensive' and 'One step below nice'. We raised our glasses to Adam, for the idea, and drank to lamb chops and chips. I cooked - and the food (if I do say so) was excellent. The lamb was marinated in olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic, a teaspoon of sea salt, a good deal of ground pepper and a dollop of chilli paste. Claire insisted that I make a record of what I did. Behold the record!

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

Thursday 18 January 2018

Elderberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (B2), 14th January 2018

This elderberry wine has matured superbly. It is velvet smooth and has a rounded flavour. It is sweet enough to accompany game pie (which is lucky, because that is what we had) without being so sweet as to block all other tastes. The game pie was excellent, using up the venison and cranberries saved from Christmas. I can't remember having eaten a better savoury pie.

I have spent much of the evening lying on the chaise-longue reading a 1930s classic crime novel - The Hog's Back Mystery - where the puzzle was everything and characterisation was minimal. Enjoyable and interesting as a period piece but little more than that.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - Twentieth Bottle (C2), 13th January 2018

The most notable part of today does not involve wine at all. Claire has started trombone lessons. This was my birthday present to her - my colleagues thought it a terrible idea, but Claire had an excellent time and I am now expecting delivery of a plastic trombone at some point this week. I can only imagine how the cats (and neighbours) will react when she starts practising.

We drank this bottle of blackcurrant wine to a lentil lasagne and then to The King's Speech on DVD. I enjoyed both the wine and the film but did not love either of them. Blackcurrant wine and films about English aristocracy are both dependable.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Ginger Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Now that I have finished my Wine Alphabet, I am inclined only to make nice wines. Experimentation is all well and good, but when I look through my wine cellar I see that I still have too many bottles of Punishment Wine. I have yet to finish Whitecurrant, Vanilla, Lemon & Lime or Ya Ya Pear, and I haven't even started drinking Inca Berry & Raisin, or bottling Jasmine Tea. All were made to tick a letter off my list and I wonder if these will be left for my executors to distribute. Therefore, I have promoted Ginger Wine to a regular - on the basis that 2016's batch was so good - and it will now be my January brew. It should remain a single batch wine, however, on the basis that it has an unusual taste.

The ingredients measured out
I started making this wine on Sunday, 7th January and I have followed my 2016 instructions nearly precisely so far. I weighed out a 5 oz piece of root ginger and 1 lb sultanas, and I counted out four lemons. I skinned the ginger and then sliced it finely - so finely that it is more accurate to refer to the pieces as shavings. Each lemon had the outermost bit of peel sliced off - this was a dull task and I was not entirely successful in avoiding the pith. I minced the sultanas in the food processor and squeezed the lemons. The ginger, outermost lemon peel, sultanas and lemon juice all went into the bucket and I poured 3½ pints of boiling water over it. I am dubious that leaving this 24 hours before I put in 2½ lbs of sugar and another 3½ pints of boiling water has any effect, but this is what I did in 2016 and therefore what I did this time.

The ingredients prepared and in the bucket
I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of Pectolase and Nutrient on Tuesday morning. After stirring the mix once or twice a day, I put the wine into its demijohn on Friday 12th January - Claire's birthday. This was a quick job, which was a Good Thing, because we weren't allowed to have Claire's Birthday Champagne until I had finished.

I left a large gap in the demijohn overnight to allow the initial vigorous fermentation to settle down before topping it up from the wine saved over.

For this wine, my water measurements were exactly right and I have a good feeling about how it will all turn out (and if that isn't tempting fate, I don't know what is).

Ginger Wine in its demijohn
If you want to see how this wine turned out, click here

Saturday 13 January 2018

Apple & Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (5), 10th-11th January 2018

Last time we drank a bottle of this flavour, I thought it better than anyone else did. This time Claire enjoyed it more than I. It is a light wine with an unusual taste - almost herby. I could not detect strawberry and only a hint of apple.

We drank half the bottle after WYSO. This term we are doing a semi-staged performance of La traviata and whilst we are without the chorus or soloist, it is currently a Karaoke version, with the conductor singing all parts surprisingly tunelessly.

Sunday 7 January 2018

Ugli Fruit Wine - Fourth Bottle (4), 6th January 2017

Today I stared Death in the face. Leeds City Museum has had an exhibition of 12 skeletons laid out in glass cases, with notes about what the bones can reveal. The oldest two were Iron Age, the most recent, Victorian. Whilst there was the initial gruesome shock, this exhibition was respectful and moving, never letting the visitor forget that these had been people with their own thoughts, joys and woes. (I was really in town to buy Claire birthday presents - six pencils and a book - and me shoes.)

In the evening we drank Ugli Fruit Wine - which is really very palatable. I think it is the smoothest of citrus wines, but due to the fruit's accessibility, one I am unlikely to repeat.

Note the green teeth: this skeleton had been buried under the Royal Mint,
and it was the copper from that process that discoloured her teeth.

Friday 5 January 2018

Strawberry Wine 2015 - Fifth Bottle (4), 31st December 2017

Another New Year's Eve, another fail at staying awake until midnight. This year I did particularly badly: I don't think it was even ten o'clock. I blame the exercise and fresh air (an extraordinarily muddy 5 mile walk around Wimpole). That, and the food and drink.

This bottle of strawberry has not improved on keeping. It retains its colour and strawberry scent, but has lost clarity and taste. I thought I had brought something rather special for Rachel & Duncan, but this wine was got through, rather than enjoyed.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Ginger Wine - Final Bottle (4), 30th December 2017

What a marvellous bottle of wine - though my judgment may have been clouded by the large Margherita that I had immediately before it. The ginger wine was dry, gingery (though not too much) and delicious.

We are in Cambridge staying at Duncan and Rachel's for New Year, and that always involves excessive alcohol and good food. Between us we got through a large slab of baked salmon, a jug of hollandaise sauce with grapefruit shavings and two further bottles of wine. Feasting is my favourite part of this time of year.

Wednesday 3 January 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Eleventh Bottle (C5), 27th December 2017

We have been entertaining this Christmas. Naturally I am always Entertaining (and will fight anyone who disputes this) but our house has been full of people for four days. With Sooz, Bob & Judith having been shipped off, Rachael, Paul, Myles and my parents have come to experience our hospitality. Claire cooked a chicken and mushroom pie and I opened a bottle of rhubarb, though I think I drank most of it myself. My liver needs time to recover.

It was a lovely evening full of food, booze and present opening (mostly for Myles, who is delightful).

What the last week has felt like

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Blackberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (C3), 26th-27th December 2017

This vintage of blackberry is growing on me and maybe that is down to it aging beyond 'Very Young'. It is gaining in complexity. I wasn't, however, in the best position to judge when it was opened. In terms of Christmas Excess, this bottle fit right in at the end of Boxing Day after I was already three sheets to the wind. The 27th was even more alcohol fueled, if anything, but I started with this.

Monday 1 January 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Ninth Bottle (A3), 25th-26th December 2017

It was unanimously decided that 2015's batch of Christmas Tutti Fruti was not as good as 2016's, despite having a whole year's extra maturation time. It is less fruity, less rounded, less interesting - just Less. This isn't to say it is poor, but it is many stops away from Special. Christmas was excellent, though, and Boxing Day spent as it should be - much sitting around followed by a walk with Sooz and Judith to Roundhay Park, circumference -ing the Lake and back again, where more booze awaited.