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.

Friday 28 September 2018

Ginger Wine - Third Bottle (3), 27th September 2018

It is not often that we open and finish a bottle on a Thursday night. But it is not often that we are less than 48 hours from a transatlantic flight. Also, it has been a busy day full of noise and a bottle of Ginger wine just seemed like the right thing to do. Claire and I have spent much of the evening in the kitchen pottering - Claire cooking, me washing up - and it has been lovely. We are both a little anxious about our upcoming holiday and a bottle of wine helps, particularly when it is as delicious and gingery as this one. Tomorrow I have 16 house completions to do, which in itself is quite daunting.

NB - This will be my last post for over a fortnight. Have a great couple of weeks, and tune in on my return.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Prune & Parsnip - Fifth Bottle (B4), 21st September 2018

I spent much of Friday driving. There was a dull meeting about pensions at Henry Boot's head office in Sheffield, all about 'nudging' people to get involved in planning their retirement income. In ordinary circumstances I could have done without it, but this being a week before I go on holiday and I am busy anyway, doubly so. I missed the last meeting, though, so it was important that I attend. The meeting lasted an hour, the driving three and a half. A bottle of wine was welcome and it was prune & parsnip because it doesn't need to be chilled. This was a good accompaniment to a delicious butternut squash risotto and then an evening on the sofa watching telly.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Eleventh Bottle (A5), 20th-21st September 2018

After a summer where I wondered if it would ever rain again, Autumn has landed with a vengeance. On Thursday water poured from the sky as if it would never stop. Being the Good Husband That I Am, I picked Claire up from work and agreed she could open a bottle of wine, even though I would spend the evening at Pat & Peter's. To consolidate my votes for the 'Best Husband' Award, I then made a superb Toad in the Hole. The wine itself was disappointing (I had a glass before dashing off to play trios). It is too light to be a red and its over-riding adjective is 'insipid'.

My superb Toad in the Hole

Sunday 23 September 2018

Apple Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 16th September 2018

When making a pork in cider casserole, the only bottle to choose is Apple Wine. It has a crunchy sweetness to it, just made for pork. Claire asked me to cook, suggested a casserole and I consulted Delia's Winter Collection which has the best recipes for stewed meat. And very fine it was too.

Sunday was a warm autumnal day and I spent some of it wandering around Roundhay Park, just to ensure that I did not spend the entire day indoors. In the evening Claire and I watched the second episode of Bodyguard, which is currently 2018's most talked about television programme. It is certainly gripping and we will be lucky to get to the end without spoilers.

Swans in Roundhay Park

Saturday 22 September 2018

Orange Wine 2016 - Tenth Bottle (A2), 15th September 2018

Something quite wonderful has happened to this orange wine. Since last having a bottle (February this year) it has smoothed itself out and developed a hint of sherry to its taste. Orange wine is always good, but this maturity has improved it beyond the merely 'good'.

Claire and I had a lovely evening with this wine. We spent much of it in the kitchen - Claire cooking, me sitting and chatting. Our fortnight in America is rapidly approaching and we are both excited and nervous in equal measure. Making plans is always fun and whilst we know what Nebraska will be like, San Francisco will be entirely new (unless one counts the day I was there aged 11).

Friday 21 September 2018

Zucchini Wine - First Bottle (5), 14th September 2018

I have a rule. I will not write up a bottle of wine until it is empty. I am breaking that rule. In front of me is a bottle of Zucchini Wine with only two small glasses having been taken from it. The remainder will not pass human lips (or any other species' come to that). It is foul. There is a hint of vomit to both its aroma and taste. Claire couldn't finish her glass. I manfully struggled on with mine, but only as a punishment for making the stuff in the first place. This is quite definitely the worst wine I have made for an age.

The Offending Bottle
If you want to see how I made this wine (just in case you feel like having a go, because, let's face it, why wouldn't you?) click here.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Blackberry Wine - Second Bottle (A5), 14th September 2018

Not quite as good as the first bottle of this batch, but still a pleasure to drink. I think demijohn A is not as sweet as demijohn B, and for blackberry wine that makes a difference. It was our Friday night bottle (unless one counts the Zucchini, which frankly one should not) and we drank it to home made pizza whilst watching The Great British Bake Off  before an early night. I do love this programme but find it hard to explain why it is so engaging: pleasant people making bread under timed conditions? Sounds dull. And it is the same every year. But it is all done with humour and love, and it makes you care.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Orange Wine - Fifth Bottle (A6), 8th September 2018

Saturday was one of those days taken up by wine making and chores. I put my blackberry into demijohns, racked my rose petal and picked elderberries. When not doing all that I was washing up, shopping for food and cooking fish pie. I fit in an episode of Doctor Who (all are currently on i-player and I am working my way through Matt Smith) and cut my finger badly when slicing a lemon. Plus we had a bottle of orange wine. So a thoroughly unremarkable Saturday and none the worse for it.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Elderberry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Having left it nearly too late to forage for blackberries, I did not intend to make the same error with elderberries. Some years I have left this wine to the end of September. That would not have worked this year. On Saturday 8th September I walked to the open space off Gledhow Valley Road to find that the Council had wreaked havoc on the copse of elder trees. There had been some recent and enthusiastic pruning and no fruit to be obtained. I wandered back, picking elderberries from such trees that I could find, resulting in a respectable 1½ lbs.

Next morning I drove to my usual spot at Kennel Lane and walked to the field that I always use. There was fruit in abundance hanging from trees and I did not feel like I was thieving from the birds in taking two carrier bags' worth. The nettles were neither as high nor as fearsome as the previous year and I was only stung the once.

Much of the rest of Sunday was spent stripping the berries from their stalks, a task enlivened by listening to Radio 4 Comedy on the BBC i-player radio app (which wins the 'Best App on My Phone' Award by a streak). I had a quick jaunt out to look at the eighteenth century bathing lodge in Gledhow Woods, it being open for World Heritage Open Day, but otherwise spent the day on elderberry wine. My total elderberry haul proved to be a little over the 6 lbs needed for a double batch so I have frozen the remainder.

I put the fruit in the bucket and crushed it with a potato masher. I put in 5 lbs 4 oz of sugar and 12 pints of boiling water (exactly the right amount, it proved) and left the mixture overnight to cool. On Monday morning I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and pectolase, stirred it around and then ignored it (save for the occasional stir) until Saturday 15th September.

Getting this into its two demijohns was quicker than blackberry - there was less sludge to bung up the sieve. The wine is the darkest that I make and is currently stored in the bath in case the fermentation is too eager. For the moment, it appears to be behaving itself.

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

Saturday 15 September 2018

Elderberry Wine - First Bottle (B3), 5th-6th September 2018

I am never ill. Except this week I have been. I started feeling grotty on Tuesday and then took the day off work on Wednesday. It has been more than five years since I missed a day through illness (unless one counts recuperating from a general anaesthetic, which personally I don't). Accordingly, I tested the healing powers of elderberry wine on Wednesday and was back at work on Thursday.

As ever when trying my first bottle of elderberry wine from a new batch, it was too young, though promising. The taste has all sorts of sharp corners and angles that time will smooth.

If you want to see how I made this wine, click here (though my next blog post is very likely to be about how I made Elderberry 2018)

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Blackcurrant Wine 2015 - Twenty Second Bottle (D3), 31st August - 3rd September 2018

This started life as a Friday night bottle, but on the basis that we had cocktails and the remainder of a bottle of Prune & Parsnip to finish, it would have been disgraceful to empty it. We were two inches away from Disgraceful. But blackcurrant wine is so drinkable.

It was Monday when Claire finished this wine. I was at the Airedale's first rehearsal of this season bashing my way through patriotic nonsense written by Elgar & Walton. It was only ever so slightly disappointing to find the bottle empty on my return.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Mint, Elderflower & Rhubarb Wine - Second Bottle (4), 1st September 2018

I took this over to York as a Saturday evening bottle. Pop was cooking mackerel so I wanted something white. Both parents loved the wine and one of them (Mom, I think) said it was the best of my wines they had tasted. It really is an excellent white wine, even by objective standards.

We had a lovely evening with my parents, not doing anything in particular, and that makes a dull tale. However, there is much to be said for comfortable and companionable co-existence that creates a happy and worthwhile life. God, that sounds smug. It isn't meant to!

Sunday 9 September 2018

Something a little bit different ...

So, I have a new toy - a Smart Phone. I know that most people have had these for nearing 10 years, but considering I didn't get my first mobile until 2011, I think I have joined the party remarkably quickly.

Anyway, I have today recorded four videos: two on sterilising equipment (it was meant to be one, but somehow the recorder got cut off), one on racking your wine and one on putting wine into demijohns once it has been in the bucket for a suitable length of time.

Sterilising Equipment

Here is video number 1: 

Here is video number 2:

Racking your wine

Apologies for the lack of comic timing with my joke, but here it is:

Putting your wine into demijohns

And finally, this is how I put my wine into demijohns (though the moving picture cuts out too early):

Blackberry Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

One should always listen to one's mother. Mothers are generally right about things and those who don't listen will live in a permanent state of regret.

A few weeks ago Mom said that I should come over to pick blackberries because they were now ripe. This was early August and therefore too early. The correct weekend to go brambling is, of course, the first weekend in September. So today (2nd September) Claire and I set off for York Victorian Cemetery. It was a glorious morning - bright sunshine, birds singing, only a hint of Autumn - and I was looking forward to an abundance of blackberries.

As is our practice, Claire and I split up to forage. After about 20 minutes, when my basket was somewhat emptier than it should have been, I got a text from Claire complaining that the blackberries were mostly mummified and asking how I was doing. We met up and decided we would be lucky to pick 4 lbs between us, enough for a single batch. This was frustrating and I regretted not heeding Mom's advice. However, fairly quickly we both found better patches and came away with about 6½ lbs.

Graves to mention are (for Claire): Margaret Nicoll and her sister Eva Barley, S. F. Elliott (a wireless operator in the RAF) and Ivy & Fred Foster. I picked from Sallie Allen, James W W Hughes and his mother Frances Grace Hughes, and Henry Ridgway Hodgson. We will raise a glass to them when the time comes.

A sculpture along the old railway track
Back at my parents' I went brambling along an old railway track and got over a pound. Though I was six ounces short of 8 lbs, this was enough for a double batch.

The wine after a stir

At home I mashed the fruit, added 5 lbs 6 oz sugar and 11¼ pints of boiling water. Next morning I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and pectolase. I left this until Saturday morning, 8th September, before putting the liquid into its demijohns. This was a slow task and I tried to film the process for the blog - now I have my super duper new camera phone thing. Irritatingly, the film is too large to attach to this and I don't know how to shrink it (any advice gratefully received!). The amount of water I used in this recipe was exactly right and the wine is looking how it should.

The demijohn in the background is Rose Petal

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2014 - Eleventh Bottle (B4?), 30th-31st August 2018

Hurrah! The Great British Bake Off is back. For the next 10 weeks we can indulge in comfort television involving people making cakes. What could be more entertaining? Because we are entitled to treats at each advert break, I opened a bottle of ancient Prune & Parsnip. This has aged extremely well - it is entirely smooth with a depth of flavour that makes it more interesting than its younger brethren. And there is still one bottle to go, hidden somewhere in the depths of this house.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Strawberry Wine - First Bottle (4), 26th August 2018

Abbey Brew, the shop that sells me all my wine making stuff, had a tasting afternoon at which we were encouraged to bring our own creations. On the basis that I wanted to impress, I took a bottle of strawberry. And impress it did - lots of people said quite how good it was, though curiously did not have a strong taste of strawberries.

I spend much of the afternoon getting horrendously drunk, tasting all sorts of wine (mostly kit red) and a few spirits, with some beer and cider for good measure. I must not get that drunk again. But I also met some good people, including Glenda and Foz (Ian) who I have invited to November's wine party. I wonder if they will come.

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

Sunday 2 September 2018

Clementine Wine - Fifth Bottle (4), 25th-29th August 2018

Claire spent the weekend in Oxford playing Ravel's String Quartet. Obviously I was going to have a bottle of wine whilst she was away, but as a loving husband I decided to open something nasty. In fact, Clementine Wine has improved from nearly undrinkable to nearly drinkable. I did not see this as a punishment (though I will still never make it again).

Bank Holiday Monday was a grand day. I took the opportunity to meet up with Vicky Butler, who kept me sane in my second year at Warwick and who I have not seen since 1994. We walked six and a half miles round Curbar Edge and it felt like only a week had gone by.

Curbar Edge, in Derbyshire