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 28 July 2018

Rose Petal Wine - First Bottle (B6), 23rd-24th July 2018

I am pleased with this vintage of rose petal wine. It is lacking the bitter hint of 2016's batch and is light, refreshing and distinctive. A beautiful pale orangey-pink too. It being the summer with no regular orchestras, I opened it on a Monday evening and we finished it tonight. The summer is not without its music, however. On Sunday night we were playing a concert of Beethoven 3 (his best symphony) on remarkably little rehearsal. Josh, the conductor, got a nose bleed at the beginning of the second movement, which was more than a little distracting.

NB - I'm away now on my holidays, so there won't be a post for at least a week. Have a good one.

Friday 27 July 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - Second Bottle (A3), 21st July 2018

Brigitta was over for a meal of 'Biochemist's Lamb' and I was about to open my penultimate bottle of Fig. I had got as far as piercing the cork with a corkscrew when I asked Brigitta if she liked figs.
"They're not my favourite."
"How about blackcurrants?"
"Oh, I love those."
So, a bottle of blackcurrant it was and Brigitta (quite correctly) thought it was marvellous. Certainly blackcurrant wine is very more-ish. It is essentially alcoholic pop. Fig would have been better with lamb, but I'm happy to save that for another day.

This was one of the first images for 'Biochemist's Lamb'

Thursday 26 July 2018

Elderberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (B2), 20th-21st July 2018

This wine is starting to mature into a rather decent bottle of red. It probably needs another year or so to hit its peak, but patience has never been a virtue for which I am renowned. We drank most the bottle on Friday to Toad in the Hole and Gravy - winter food to celebrate the fact it rained and was generally grey. The 45 minutes' drizzle coincided with Claire sitting outside marshalling traffic whilst our street was closed. She needed something to warm her up and the food and wine performed admirably.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fourth Bottle (A2), 18th July 2018

Whereas Claire insisted on a bottle Tuesday evening, it was my turn on Wednesday. Two bottles in as many nights, mid week. Not ideal behaviour. But I fancied a glass or three of wine and I have been drinking a little less recently. I'm not sure why I feel the need to explain myself!

I chose Prune & Parsnip because we hadn't had one for a while and it was the first to hand. Also, of all my whites, it is the one that needs chilling the least. One doesn't chill sherry, after all.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Blackberry Wine - Eleventh Bottle (A4), 17th July 2018

Ordinarily when arriving home from work, if Claire asks for anything, it will be a decaf coffee. Last night I was required to open a bottle of wine as soon as she got in. I don't think Claire had a particularly stressful day, but she has been working exceptionally hard since at least January. I chose Blackberry on the basis that it didn't need chilling and is good without being special. On the basis that I was playing the Poulenc Sextet at Madeleine's that evening I only had one glass before we ate, though another glass and a half on my return. It would be uncharitable to say that I needed it.

Monday 23 July 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Third Bottle (B4), 15th July 2018

Friday and Saturday nights were both uncharacteristically sober for me (concert on Friday, driving back from York on Saturday) so I was not going to let Sunday escape without emptying at least one bottle of wine.

We spent the early evening in David and Liz's garden drinking Kirs and then came home to a bottle of rhubarb wine. It needed to be white to accompany Actively Delicious Tofu - and rhubarb is the closest thing I have to a real white wine. The evening was as lazy as the day had been. Sundays on hot July days should be nothing other.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Rose Petal Wine and Rose Petal & Orange Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Roses in our garden
This summer has been good for roses. Our white rose has produced blooms in abundance and the red rose doubled its output from last year's two flowers. Meanwhile in my parents' garden Pop has been under strict orders to collect as many roses as are available. Claire and I went over on Saturday 14th July to visit, though in truth the primary reason was to collect rose petals rather than filial duty. Mom has been away in Nebraska and I do try to see my father at least once when she is absent. Collecting wine ingredients is as good an excuse as any. It was a lovely evening - Pop cooked us smoked mackerel, a food I disliked as a child but now love, and we chatted about friends and family.

Rose in my parents' garden
Back home, on Sunday morning, I started the wine and again have made a double batch of rose petal and a single batch of rose petal & orange. For the 'pure' rose petal I measured 8 pints of rose petals and put them in the bucket. I minced 1 lb of sultanas, juiced two oranges and measured 5½ lbs of sugar. All these went in the bucket, were covered with 15 pints of boiling water and stirred round until the sugar dissolved (Liz had come round and helped with this bit).

The rose petal & orange was more fiddly. I began by peeling three oranges very thinly, doing an excellent job of avoiding the pith (for once). I put the peel in a bowl and covered it with a pint of boiling water. I then juiced six oranges (including those three) giving me a pint of orange juice. This and 4 pints of petals went into a bucket with 3 lbs sugar and 5½ pints of boiling water.

Most of the ingredients for both wines
That evening I put yeast, nutrient, pectolase and tannin into each wine (1 teaspoon of each of the last three into the orange, about a teaspoon and a half into the pure). On Monday morning I poured the water that had previously covered the peel into the rose petal & orange, throwing out the peel.

The wine went into its demijohns on Friday evening, 20th July, with all solids having been strained out. All demijohns are brick orange in colour, with rose petal & orange being ever so slightly darker.

The Rose Petal & Orange is on the left
If you want to see how the Rose Petal & Orange turned out, click here.

Friday 20 July 2018

Apple Wine - First Bottle (1), 11th-12th July 2018

On bottling my apple wine, two annoying things occurred. Most spectacularly, I knocked an empty bottle from the counter onto the floor. Green glass everywhere and a terrified cat. Then on my last bottle, I snapped the string as I pulled it from the cork. Generally when I do this, I take the cork out, use a new one and try again. This time I thought "bugger it", put the wine in the fridge and opened it two days later. Apple wine is best drunk young anyway.

This is a rather fabulous bottle of wine: crisp and sweet and apple-y. There is a youth and freshness to it, which was appropriate to my circumstances on Thursday. I had just returned from playing with North Yorkshire Schools' Symphony Orchestra - and orchestra in which I played 31 years ago when I was still a flute. The drive back from Giggleswick had happy memories of two glorious weeks in 1987 - possible the best two weeks of my adolescent years.

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

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - Second Bottle (5), 6th July 2018

Memory and expectations combined can play odd tricks. I had remembered this wine as very good and therefore expected it to be so. Claire had remembered it to be poor with matching expectations. We were both confounded. For Claire, this was a pleasant bottle; for me it was on the right side of drinkable. The sherry flavour is too pronounced - more so than Prune & Parsnip. We agreed it should be a mid-week bottle.

It being a delightful evening, we ate and drank outside and stared into our ever-diminishing pond. Claire caught a flash of gold - we have a new fish! The Thieving Bastard Heron did not manage to eat them all.

The Thieving Bastard Heron in our pond

Sunday 15 July 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - First Bottle (B2), 5th July 2018

Well, what a splendid vintage of blackcurrant wine this is. I think even Duncan might like it. Where blackcurrant wine is usually the sharpest of my reds, this one is your actual smooth and the taste is an explosion of fruit.

We had the entire bottle on a Thursday evening, which is not our standard practice. However, when Claire came home from work she announced that she was grouchy for no good reason and I wondered if wine might help. It did. It usually does. As did an episode of Midsomer Murders, where the body count was a frankly disappointing 'one'.

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

Saturday 14 July 2018

Cherry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

On Saturday 7th July, back in the days when the country was still excited about the World Cup, Claire and I did our weekly shopping in Chapel Allerton. They have the world's smallest and busiest greengrocers there, where you have to fight your way through the crowds to select onions and then have a fifteen minute queue stretching out the door to pay. It was whilst waiting in this line that I noticed there were several 2kg boxes of cherries being sold for £3.50 each. I couldn't resist. I have only made cherry wine once before and that was five years ago. It was one of the best wines that I have ever made, so even though buying wine ingredients from a shop in July feels like cheating, I took a box of cherries with me.

A 2kg box of cherries
The same afternoon, I removed stalks from the cherries, weighed the fruit in Imperial measurements (4 lbs 7 oz - this is a pound and a half less than I used when making cherry wine before, so I suspect this one won't be as good) and washed them. As with last time, I did not de-stone the cherries. Instead I put them in my bucket and gave them a good mash, which was difficult to begin with but got easier. I poured in 3 lbs of sugar and covered this with 6 pints of boiling water, giving it all a stir. The bucket was then left for two days.

Cherries after mashing, before water and sugar is added
On Monday night, I took the cherry pulp out of the liquid (using a colander first and then a jug and sieve), straining the liquid into my biggest pan. I boiled this up - creating a scum on top - and then poured it all back into the bucket, scum and all.

On Tuesday morning, 10th July (England was still excited about football) I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of citric acid, pectolase and nutrient. I also had a sip of the liquid, which was insipid rather than bursting with cherry flavour. Hmmm.

This morning, Saturday 14th July (where England's World Cup hopes are but a distant memory) I have put the wine into its demijohn. I poured this through a sieve, removing some scum. There looks to be a large sediment, but the wine is a lovely cherry-red colour.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Rose Petal & Orange Wine - First Bottle (1), 2nd July 2018

This is a fabulous bottle of wine and definitely one to make again. The rose flavour is detectable without being overpowering and the orange gives it a zing. There is something refreshing and light about this wine.

Though it is a Monday night, we are technically on holiday, so having a bottle of wine is Fine. Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary, so we spent it in a posh hotel near Yarm. Today we stopped at Leake Church on the A19, something I have been meaning to do for a decade, and for which we had time today. It is a charming church with a twelfth-century tower, surrounded by eighteenth and nineteenth century gravestones, and well worth a stop.

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

Sunday 8 July 2018

Strawberry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

On Monday 2nd July, rather than being at work, I spent my day eating breakfast at Crathorne Hall, drinking coffee in Yarm, investigating a Norman church just off the A19 and picking strawberries in Horsforth. It had been our twentieth wedding anniversary the day before and a suitable day for a holiday. Glorious weather too - though it has been glorious for two months now. I cannot remember a summer like this one.

Strawberry plants at the Pick Your Own
I went to pick strawberries by myself, which turned out to be a Good Thing. When I arrived at last year's Pick Your Own field, there was a large sign saying it had moved, with a corresponding post-code but no further address. Happily Claire was at home and googled the post-code for me, thus avoiding a frustrating and fruitless trip.

The Pick Your Own was not particularly busy and the strawberries (Florence variety) were abundant. Most the other people there were mothers with pre-school children having an afternoon out and trying to convince their charges to pick rather than eat the fruit. I wanted 5 lbs of strawberries - four for this batch and one for a mixed fruit wine later in the year, and came home with nearly six.

My haul of strawberries
I washed and hulled the four pounds I needed for strawberry wine (freezing the remainder) and mashed them in the bucket - turning them into a pink offal-like consistency. I poured over four pints of boiling water and then left it all until the following day, Tuesday 3rd July.

Strawberries in the bucket, pre-mashing

On Tuesday I took the pulp from the liquid, firstly using a colander and putting the pulp in a plastic bowl and then pouring the liquid into a demijohn through my nylon sieve and funnel, again retaining the pulp. I poured two pints of cold water over the pulp and swirled it round a bit. This sat infusing while I cleaned and sterilised my bucket. I then separated the pulp from the new liquid, putting the liquid in the bucket and discarding the pulp, and poured the strawberry juice in the demijohn back into the bucket.

Strawberries in pureed form
I added 3 lbs of sugar, the yeast and a teaspoon each of tannin, pectolase and nutrient. This frothed away to itself over the next four days and I stirred it occasionally.

I poured the liquid into its demijohn on Saturday 7th July, leaving sufficient space at the top to avoid any overspill during its most active fermentation, keeping some back in a bottle for topping up. Its colour is more pink and less post-box red than I think is usual.

Friday 6 July 2018

Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (1), 30th June 2018

I took this bottle to Karen's Chamber Music Party in Ilkley. Claire was playing quartets by Schumann and Mozart, and I was the designated drinker. It was a lovely evening and civilised way to spend a Saturday - listening to string quartets whilst knocking back the wine. The strawberry wine was mostly drunk by me and Sophie - who thought it particularly good. Quite rightly too. Strawberry wine is one of my best. It is stuffed with strawberry flavour but stays on the right side of 'dry' and has a beneficial fizz. What's not to like?

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fifth Bottle (A2), 27th-28th June 2018

Having had a weekend of concerts, I am now in that summer period where there are no orchestras to dash to on weekday evenings. This meant a leisurely Wednesday night, where our meal was lamb chops and three sorts of salad, plus most a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti, which I think is improving with age. Lots of fruit flavours and a strong hint of rose. We watched an old episode of Doctor Who on the sofa - Donna Noble's first appearance in The Runaway Bride - entertaining fluff. On Thursday Claire was out playing string quartets so I took it upon myself to finish the bottle.