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 29 April 2018

Ugli Fruit Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 22nd April 2018

It has been a splendid weekend. Claire has been out both days playing her viola and I have spent my time pottering. When I enthused about what a great time I had had Claire was somewhat nonplussed and apologised for cramping my style. Mostly I spent my hours in the garden, clearing a bed, mowing the lawn (the first mow this year) and weeding our front garden - which was to be an allotment but is now an excellent home for goose-grass and dead nettle.

On Sunday night we drank a bottle of Ugli Fruit wine as something citrusy to accompany seafood pasta. Both wine and food were lovely, though I am less critical of the wine than Claire. I think it is smoother and more interesting than Orange.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Blackberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (B5), 20th April 2018

I was more than ready for a glass of wine when I got home. Six miles is a long walk on a warm evening, particularly when you need the loo from less than a mile in. Walking to work is fine, a pleasure even. Home again, though, is tedious and feels more up-hill. The blackberry wine was welcome and I drank rather more of it than Claire did. This walking is thirsty work. And blackberry wine is a solid, (mostly) reliable flavour.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (B3), 18th-19th April 2018

We seem to have gone from winter to summer in one fell swoop. The weather has changed from cold and wet to positively balmy. Long may it continue.

I opened this orange wine for something to drink after WYSO. It is the Pontefract Proms term and Wednesday was our first rehearsal. The music is its usual mix of light classical (Marriage of Figaro Overture) and modern cheese (a Richard Rogers Medley) but it is good to have Nick back at the helm.

We each only had a small glass, saving most the bottle for Thursday, when we finished it and then went for a slightly drunken amble round the neighbourhood in the evening warmth.

Modern Cheese

Saturday 21 April 2018

Dandelion Wine - First Bottle (3), 14th April 2018

I am extremely pleased with this bottle. It has elements of a medium sherry, but with a lemon zing and something unusual besides. That will probably be the dandelions. It has a dark gold colour and was clear all the way down. I shall ration this flavour to one a year because dandelion wine is one of those that keeps on improving.

It was a suitable choice for the day, which has been the first day this year that has felt spring-like. No rain and the sun made a showing for part of it. I spent a couple of hours in the garden, cleaning the eventual rose-bed. Claire tidied borders and pottered, some of which involved pulling up dandelions.

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

Monday 16 April 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2015 - Tenth Bottle (B5), 7th-8th April 2018

On Saturday night, I allowed myself only a sip of wine. This was because on Saturday afternoon I allowed myself a whole bottle. The bottle was an Italian red and the sip was Tutti Fruti. The bottle was better. I had been out for lunch with Rodney, and that always involves too much to drink.

We finished the Tutti Fruti on Sunday after a whole day of learning how to make lithographic prints using tin foil and coca cola. I hadn't been to an art lesson since I was 14 and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Claire concentrated on blood cells for her design, whereas my most successful involved rhubarb wine.

My lithograph
The image I worked from (but in mirror image)

Saturday 14 April 2018

Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 5th-6th April 2018

My phone is ancient and temperamental. Every so often it decides not to receive texts or phone calls for a few days and then vomits them all out at once. Hence, on Thursday night whilst I was out for a curry and beers with Darren and Nigel, I did not get Claire's text asking what bottle she could open. Had I done so, I would have replied "Not gooseberry". Never mind.

I had a couple of small glasses on Friday night - I had been feeling delicate all day. This wine is bone dry and as sharp as needles with a gooseberry punch. I wonder how it will mature, but at this rate I am unlikely to find out.

This is what my phone looks like

Thursday 12 April 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Third Bottle (B3), 3rd April 2018

I like this wine more than I remember. The rose petals are distinctive without being overpowering and there is an overall dark fruity taste. It was questionable whether finishing the bottle was a good idea, however. Particularly after a large glass each of crab apple wine. On a Tuesday night.

Claire and I settled in to watch Lewis but its denouement was ruined, rather, by mouse activity. A mouse brought in by Wiggy a few nights ago is in rude health*. All four legitimate household mammals spent 15 minutes chasing the illegitimate mammal round the dining room, failing to catch it. Yet again, we have rubbish cats*.

*Update: A couple of nights ago Claire was woken by a crunching sound. Wiggy was eating a mouse in our bedroom. Claire got up, didn't turn any lights on, picked up the (very much dead) mouse. By the soggy end. I slept through, but curiously had a dream of a cat eating a mouse.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty-fourth Bottle (A1), 2nd-3rd April 2018

I bottled my Blackcurrant on Easter Monday, but that did not produce sufficient wine. Hence opening this bottle of crab apple, which continues to be a decent, highly drinkable wine. I spent the evening watching the first episode of And Then There Were None: a book I remember from when I was 11 - it is a nasty little tale of cruelty and retribution, but has an all-star cast so is (at least) glorious to look at.

We finished the bottle on Tuesday (and then finished another) because Claire was still on her Easter holidays and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Monday 9 April 2018

Ginger Wine - First Bottle (5), 1st April 2018

This is a superb bottle of wine. It is light and refreshing and gingery, but no so gingery that it is a novelty wine. Very drinkable too. Neither of us believed Claire when she said, on its opening, "We don't need to finish it". By nine o'clock, it was gone. I spent most my time reading Bird Cage Walk by Helen Dunmore, which was excellent. It is a novel dealing with power, abuse, loss and the conflict between public and private spheres. That makes it sound worth and dull, but it is entirely gripping - there is an element of 'thriller' to it, and Threat is ever present.

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

Sunday 8 April 2018

Elderberry Wine - Third Bottle (A2), 1st April 2018

Judith cooked an enormous slab of beef for our Easter lunch, and I opened a bottle of elderberry wine to go with it. The food was superb and the wine was passable. This is not my best vintage of elderberry. Andrew's adjective of choice was 'frunty' and I have no idea whether that is a compliment or not.

The weekend was excellent, starting with a lovely visit with Keith and family (we taught Ellis how to play 'Cheat'), going round Craster to buy kippers, watch the waves crash against the pier and get thoroughly cold walking much of the way to Dunstanburgh Castle, and finishing the Guardian cryptic double crossword.

Saturday 7 April 2018

Kiwi Fruit Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Easter Monday should be spent in the garden, followed by a trip to the Garden Centre. This is simply what middle-class, middle-aged British people do. It is our cultural duty. On 2nd April 2018, I failed my nation. In my defence, for much of the day it was snowing and when not snowing there was a torrent of rain. Instead, I spent the morning tidying our bedroom (unearthing paraphernalia from Amsterdam - I was last there in 2016) and the afternoon making kiwi-fruit wine.

I have only made this flavour once before - five years ago - though if you google 'Kiwi Fruit wine' it is the second web page out of the box. I made up the recipe that time and pretty much followed it this. To start, I counted out 20 kiwi fruit, weighed them and added another two to bring the weight up to 3 lbs 8 oz. I cut each of them in half, held the half over the bucket and scooped the insides out with a spoon, discarding the skin. This had the advantage that the flesh and all spare juice landed squarely in the bucket. On the downside I discovered a combination of fine kiwi fruit hairs and acidic kiwi fruit juice has blistered my finger and caused an irritating rash. How I suffer for my hobby!

I mashed the fruit with a potato masher, added 3 lbs of sugar and poured over 6½ pints of boiling water. On Tuesday morning I put in a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin (I can't imagine that it needs any additional acid) and added the yeast. I then left the wine in its bucket until Saturday morning, 7th April, mostly forgetting to stir it twice a day.

On Saturday I got up early - Claire has just got a new phone and her alarm turns out to be a rooster call, which refuses to be turned off - and did my wine-making jobs before ten. Transferring the wine to its demijohn was straightforward and I could have reduced the water in the initial mix by a quarter of a pint - but at that level it won't make a difference. I am pleased that the wine has a distinctly green tinge, albeit on the greyish side. Claire thinks it looks like summer pond water - full of algae but (hopefully) no fish.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Eighth Bottle (C3), 30th March 2018

Bob & Judith's boiler has packed up - so this was an ideal time to visit them for a weekend. We took plenty of clothes and decided that washing would be an unnecessary luxury. In the evening, after visiting Keith, Jaki and Ellis (who I hadn't seen since June, which is far, far too long) I opened a bottle of rose petal wine. It was the only bottle we drank between the four of us, which is unusual, but it was a good one. Chilled, of course.

Monday 2 April 2018

Orange Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (A6), 27th-28th March 2018

Having had a weekend stuffed with concerts (including a spine-tingling performance of an opera in a barely converted mill) and consequently little alcohol, I opened this bottle on a Monday night. Claire asked for something citrusy to go with fish. It has been over a year since our last bottle of this vintage and age has changed the wine. There is something fuller about it; you do not get the first, lingering hit of orange. Claire says she prefers her orange wine young and sharp, and I can't decide which I would choose. It was a pleasure, though, to have both Monday and Tuesday night at home not rushing off anywhere, recovering from the previous week.

Me at the opera...