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.

Thursday 31 December 2020

Gooseberry Wine 2019 - Fourth Bottle (4), 24th December 2020

In contravention of current law, Mom and Pop came over and we treated them to a cup of tea indoors. Had this been tomorrow, that would have been legal. It is a Looking Glass World in which we live. Mom was keen to see the advent windows, so we walked the street with Mom taking great care over getting a perfect photograph of each. I have rarely been so cold. It was wonderful to see them, though. The very worst thing about this Covid situation is not being able to spend time with those that you love.

As they left I opened this gooseberry wine, which is a decent bottle, and drank it, wanting to blur reality's edges for a short time.

One of our Advent Windows (but from the
inside during daylight hours)

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Eleventh Bottle (B2), 20th December 2020

Claire requested a light red for our meal, which was 'The Egg & Pepper Thing', and Xmas Tutti Fruti fits the bill nicely. Blindfolded, you probably couldn't tell that it was a red wine. Still tasty, though.

Sunday was a relaxing day where I did very little but struggle with the Guardian Prize Crossword and go for a 6 mile walk to Shadwell and back. But after the week that I have had, a relaxing day was welcome.

On the path leading from Shadwell

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Strawberry Wine 2019 - Third Bottle (4), 22nd December 2020

Well, this wasn't a great idea. After an intense three weeks at work, the hardest that I have had for an age, I got the £8.4m contract in Calderdale exchanged and promptly drank the greater half of a bottle of champagne. I then opened this bottle of Strawberry - which was superb: a proper strawberry taste - and we finished that too. As I say, not a great idea. One can overdo the concept of celebration. It led to a poor night's sleep, feeling muddled the next morning and a short-lived desire to stay away from the booze.

A dull photo taken on 22 December.
I was trying to get the Leeds skyline.


Wednesday 23 December 2020

Rose Petal 2016 - Final Bottle (B2), 19th December 2020

I fished out this bottle from under the stairs to go with a supremely hot curry. My reasoning was that whatever wine we had, we would hardly taste it. And Rose Petal is no longer a favourite in this house. In fact, this wine was rather good. The floral taste did not overpower the wine and, despite its age, it had not acquired a sherry taste. We then ruined the evening by watching Nativity! on i-player. Never trust a film with an exclamation mark. It was abysmal.

Taken on 19 December in my local park
I found it emotional, hearing live music again.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Blackberry Wine 2018 - Tenth Bottle (B2), 17th-19th December 2020

Thursday was very nearly a whole bottle of wine night. I finished work at 7:30, having ended with a fractious meeting about an £8m purchase of land in Calderdale that had been stuffed with bad temper and awkward silences. Therefore, most of a bottle between the two of us did not feel excessive. And it is a good one - there is a reason that bramble wine is one of my very favourites. 

Tonight we finished the remainder in a mix with sloe gin - and that works brilliantly. It transforms a good wine into an excellent one with distinct hints of port.

Another Advent Window - this
time in Chapel Allerton

Monday 21 December 2020

Apple & Strawberry Wine 2018 - Fourth Bottle (1), 12th-16th December 2020

This started life as a Saturday night bottle but was very quickly rejected as such. Saturday night bottles are meant to be rather better than this. It had a dry thinness that caused much face-pulling. Instead, we drank it under sufferance on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Claire improved the wine greatly by adding a splash of sugar-syrup to each glass.

This whole week has been made extraordinary by the amount of work I am doing. I have been working till 7 every night, which is unheard of, but strangely I am enjoying it. There is job satisfaction in doing something well and being appreciated for doing so.

Allotments in Leeds - taken on 12 December

Sunday 20 December 2020

Elderberry 2017 - Eleventh Bottle (A4), 13th December 2020

Sunday was Christmas Card Day - a day that I always dread. The principle of Christmas Cards is one that I wholeheartedly support, and I do enjoy getting them. Therefore, why is writing them such a pain in the arse? Rather than write simply "To X, from Ben & Claire', I put a different snippet of news in each (difficult in 2020). So it takes an absolute age. Still, I managed to do them all, and we drank a rather lovely bottle of elderberry wine (lovely despite the bits) as a reward.

Lovely, despite the bits.

Thursday 17 December 2020

Rose Petal & Orange Wine 2019 - Third Bottle (6), 12th December 2020

I opened this bottle after an abortive attempt at Apple & Strawberry 2018. Saturday night needs a good bottle of wine; not one that is only just on the right side of 'drinkable'. And this wine is excellent - smooth, unusual and delicious.

The Snarkalong Film Club was Dirty Dancing - last seen in 1991 with my awful ex-girlfriend (also called Claire) and I hated it then - probably because ex-Claire loved it. Anyway, without that baggage it was better. Not a masterpiece, certainly, but okay (and so very 80s).

Taken on 12th December

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - Sixth Bottle (A2), 11th December 2020

In ordinary years, it would have been my Work Christmas Party. For obvious reasons, that is not happening and I suspect that we are not having any virtual event either. Certainly nothing has been said. Mind you, I always think that I am going to enjoy the Work Christmas Do far more than the presented reality. Every year I leave early, having drunk too much, feeling deafened by the Disco. This year, though, I was at home drinking a fine bottle of Blackcurrant Wine watching an episode of ER with my wife. Not a bad alternative.

Wiggy - taken on 11th December

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2019 - Eighth Bottle (B1), 9th-10th December 2020

This will be another of those diary entries where I complain that every day feels like the last. There is little that stands out from Wednesday or Thursday and they certainly will not be days that I remember for evermore. Or even by the start of next week. We did have a bottle of Prune & Parsnip Wine, so that was something, and saw a further two Advent Windows from the neighbours. It was another two days of feeling barely in control at work and I do look forward to a fortnight's time when the country shuts up shop for a week.

An out of focus picture of our Advent Window

Monday 14 December 2020

Apple Wine 2019 - Second Bottle (6), 2nd-3rd December 2020

Definitely a mid-week bottle of wine, this one. There is nothing actively wrong with it, but it is neither interesting nor delicious. 

On Wednesday night Claire poured me a glass of apple wine as medicine. I was feeling entirely overwhelmed and panicky about work. At that point I could not see how I could get everything done - and I got up at 2 a.m. to do ninety minutes work (mostly redone about twelve hours later). By Thursday, though, everything was clearer and Claire said that my moustache was no longer drooping, so we finished the bottle and watched Taskmaster. All was right with the world once more.

The Neighbourhood Advent Window for 3 December

Saturday 12 December 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2018 - Tenth Bottle (C6), 29th November 2020

Oh, I'm an old man. Most of my waking hours - nine of them - were spent kneeling on the floor, creating a Tardis panel for the Street Advent Calendar. That is nine hours of crouching and kneeling whilst designing, measuring, cutting, gluing and placing carefully. After about three hours of this, each time I got up I made an old-man groaning noise. Two days later and I am still stiff. The end result, though, is fantastic. A bottle of rhubarb wine as muscle-relaxant was definitely the thing to have. And, in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed feeling like I was at Primary School again, with rounded scissors, lots of coloured paper and glue. It was a good day.

My Tadis Advent Panel. Nine hours work!

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Orange Wine 2019 - Fourth Bottle (1), 28th November 2020

This bottle was better than I had remembered. It was not cloyingly sweet and there was a pleasant depth to it. We drank the wine at the end of one of those dank days which just makes you want to hibernate. Instead, though, I made a Christmas pudding (now to be stored until Boxing Day) and created my first panel of our Advent Window (lots of stars - relatively easy and a bit dull). In the evening we ate 'Hot & Sour Guinea Fowl' and watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Gently amusing, but no more.

The Christmas Pudding before 8 hours of steaming

Saturday 5 December 2020

Rose Petal Wine 2018 - Eighth Bottle (A5), 27th-28th November 2020

On Friday, having finished the Xmas Tutti Fruti and having had a whisky mac, we decided that a further bottle would be a good idea (it wasn't). But it was not to be anything too nice - so I fished out a bottle of Rose Petal, and it fulfilled its duties admirably. 

Most of it was drunk whilst watching Taskmaster, which is infectiously, gloriously silly. This left the murky, crunch dregs for Saturday. Claire generously allowed me to finish the bottle.

What I spent Saturday afternoon doing

Friday 4 December 2020

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Tenth Bottle (B1), 26th-27th November 2020

It has been an odd Thanksgiving this year. Rather than a houseful of friends & family, we celebrated alone. Actually, we had two Zoom sessions - one with the Taylors to mark the opening of Whisky Mac season, and one with Richard & Linda for Thanksgiving Proper. The other odd thing was no turkey. Claire roasted a guinea fowl instead, which is not strictly North American, but is rather better than the traditional bird. Also more suited to two. We washed it all down with a bottle of Tutti Fruti, which was as good as ever, but did not finish it. Friday was a working day and, as mentioned above, it was the start of Whisky Mac season.

Our Thanksgiving meal (plus wine)

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Sixth Bottle (A1), 22nd November 2020

It has been a delightful, domestic Sunday. In the morning I made a marmalade & yoghurt cake - not an unmitigated triumph (the texture is weird and rubbery) but it tastes acceptable. In the evening I made a goulash which, apart from the sour cream curdling, was excellent. All washed down with a bottle of blackberry wine. 

Claire spent her day making a faux stained glass panel depicting the lifecycle of a frog.

Claire's panel

Friday 27 November 2020

Ginger Wine 2019 - Final Bottle (4), 21st November 2020

Bentcliffe Drive is having a Life Sized Advent Calendar this year, where households light up a window with a stained glass design. We have decided to do all nine panes in our porch and have been given the number 8, so much of the day has been spent designing ours. In the evening we drank a bottle of ginger wine and watched My Fair Lady, which is a surprisingly long film. I did wonder if it was possible for my arse to get Deep Vein Thrombosis.

One of our panels

Thursday 26 November 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (A6), 20th November 2020

Friday nights need a bottle of wine and this one more than most. It had not been a bad day at all - but it was one of intense concentration. I had spent most of the day drafting a difficult report on title and by six o'clock my head was spinning. Blackcurrant wine reversed the direction of that spin - it is an excellent bottle. We spent much of the evening watching the pilot episode of ER. I had never seen ER, and was a little resistant, fearing it might be dull and dated. Instead, I was gripped throughout.

Chimneys in Leeds (actually taken on 21 November)

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Elderflower, Mint & Rhubarb 2019 - Third Bottle (6), 18th-19th November 2020

This week I have been Chief Cook and that is an unusual state of affairs. On Wednesday it was "Hot Tomatoey Garlicky Seabass" and on Thursday it was Lentil Curry (and this time I remembered the poached egg). Over the last eight months or so, where our world has narrowed, we have expanded our standard food repertoire beyond the usual five meals, and this is a Good Thing. The wine was also fine - a delightful colour and a refreshing taste. The current Archers' storyline of Alice's desperate alcoholism, done in the most traumatic fashion, only gave me slight pause before I opened this bottle.

A fabulous sunrise taken earlier in the week

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2017 - Fourteenth Bottle (A5), 15th-17th November 2020

I've done it again - left a bottle many days before writing about it. Always a mistake. As far as I can remember, it was a decent wine and we drank it to Tuna Surprise. The highlight of Sunday evening was chatting to Todd & Anne via Zoom. If there is one good thing about this pandemic it is that we have spoken to a greater number of distant friends and family more often than we might. Though going into central Leeds would now be an adventure, chatting to someone in Oregon feels normal. Because of the time difference I flaked out somewhat earlier than ideal - and we hadn't even finished the bottle. That was done on Tuesday to The Great British Bake Off's semi-final.

Taken on an 8 mile walk done on Sunday

Sunday 22 November 2020

Rose Petal & Orange 2018 - Third Bottle (3), 14th November 2020

I spent Saturday feeling out of sorts. The day was dank and little could lift my mood. Whilst we are being told that there is a vaccine on the horizon, I shall believe it when I see it. A bottle of Rose Petal & Orange helped - it is not as good as 2019's batch, but actually it is not half bad. Perhaps both flavours are too strong, but only slightly - and it goes well with stir-fried Kim Chi. We then watched A Knight's Tale which is gloriously anachronistic and just a huge amount of fun. That helped too.

Playing around with my camera on 14 November

Saturday 21 November 2020

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2019 - Seventh Bottle (A2), 12th-13th November 2020

I don't know where all my prune & parsnip wine has gone. This was the only bottle I could find of at least eight dotted around the house. I have yet to open up the crypt - so maybe they are down there. This particular bottle was my only 1 litre vessel - so drinking it over two days was sensible. Friday, though, began with Margaritas and a Zoom catch-up with Catherine - who might have mumps. Having a notifiable disease that is not Covid 19 must be quite the privilege. 

My day at work had been busy and fraught, and it ended on a downer. I had made a foolish mistake months ago and only realised on Friday. This prevented one of our house-buyers moving in. Their weekend will have been ruined, and it was my fault.

Taken on 12th November - a park close to us

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Jam Wine 2020 - The Making Of...

Many years ago I spotted that CJJ Berry had a recipe for Jam Wine. I filed this information away under the heading "Odd and Not Useful". Over the last few months I have watched our 'Home Made Condiments' cupboard fill to capacity and started to wonder whether I should dust down that recipe. Also, stored in the attic, were a collection of jars that we brought with us when moving house in 2015 and which have lurked there ever since.

Jars found in the attic

Claire was fully on board with this wine - it solved the problem of all those jars, but first of all we needed to play "Jam or Chutney". This involved opening each jar (more difficult than it sounds) and taking a taste - because of course only about half were labelled. This appeared to produce no chutney, lots of marmalade (which I did not use) and some sort of jelly with large pieces of garlic floating in it - also rejected.

A different view of the same jars
Notice the dust!

In the end I used nine jars in a variety of sizes and these were: Plum 2013, Strawberry 2013, Gooseberry 2011, Bramble Jelly 2013, Rowan Jelly 2005, Damson 2014, Crabapple & Chili Jelly, Fig, and Quince Jelly. The Crabapple & Chili was the nicest, the Rowan the worst.

Emptied jars

On Sunday 8th November, I tipped all contents into my bucket (together it looked like an enormous, disgusting blood clot) and poured over 6½ pints of boiling water. I gave it a good stir and left it overnight for the jam to dissolve. On Monday morning I added two teaspoons of citric acid and one of pectolase. Then in the evening (rather than 24 hours later as instructed by the recipe) I added 8 oz of minced raisins, 1 lb of sugar and a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and tannin.


The yeast (which was a new tub and a different variety) did not take and I feared that this wine would have to be thrown out. On Wednesday I made a yeast starter, with the half teaspoon left of my old yeast, half a pint of warm water and half a pint of the jam wine. This started fermenting and continued to do so after adding a further pint of the wine, so I poured it into the bucket. Success!

I put the liquid into its demijohn on 15th November - which took quite a while. During this process I noticed large bits of onion in the solids that I was sieving out. "This appeared to produce no chutney" was a rash and inaccurate statement. "Jam or Chutney" is a surprisingly difficult game.

Jam wine in its demijohn

Sunday 15 November 2020

Orange Wine 2018 - Tenth Bottle (A5), 10th-11th November 2020

Hurrah! I'm not dying. My blood tests came back on Wednesday and everything is normal. The weight loss is down to additional exercise and no additional food. Therefore I need to eat more. That is my kind of remedy! I could pretend that we opened this bottle in celebration, but it was opened on Tuesday to accompany The Great British Bake Off - which is now in its closing stages. So, instead, we finished it in celebration - and I am relieved that I no longer have to take my blood pressure twice a day.

Taken on 10 November

Friday 13 November 2020

Elderberry Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (B3), 8th November 2020

Claire cooked duck on Sunday night and that required a special bottle of wine. I offered to go to the shops to buy something made of grapes, but decided to open this ancient bottle of elderberry instead. And it really was special: rich, smooth, delicious. The duck was superb as well - crispy skin, pink middle.

My day had been one of idleness - I didn't step outside once. My planned five mile walk did not materialise - it was foggy and dank all day. Much better to spend the time indoors with the woman I love.

Jam Jars taken on Sunday - all will be revealed as to why.

Thursday 12 November 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (A6), 7th November 2020

Of course today's big news was the US election being called for Joe Biden - and the World suddenly feels like a better, safer place. I have been fascinated - unable to stay away from The Guardian live feed. We celebrated with a Manhattan (shared via Zoom with the Bentcliffe Massif) and then this bottle of rhubarb wine, which as always was a decent bottle.

The Snarkalong Film Club watched Dangerous Liaisons - the last third of which is a masterclass in acting, all about sexuality and power. The first two thirds, though, are just so cruel.

A Manhattan in our front room

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (C3), 4th-5th November 2020

This is being written three days after we finished the bottle under discussion, which is always a mistake. I cannot, therefore, remember its taste but I imagine that it was a great deal like blackberry wine. 

On Wednesday I was fretting about the American election, as I was on Thursday, but not quite so hopelessly. I cannot understand how a man with so little grace, who is so blatant in his lying, bullying and self-centredness can remain as popular as he is. "Darth Vader? Sure, I'll vote for him."

Taken on 5th November on my morning walk

Sunday 8 November 2020

Elderberry Wine 2018 - Fourth Bottle (B5), 1st November 2020

What a fabulous bottle of wine! This elderberry is smooth as velvet and dark as midnight. We drank it to a venison sausage casserole towards the end of a proper Sunday. I listened to Broadcasting House in the bath, had a long yet local walk, played Scrabble with my mother (she won) and did a modicum of bassoon practice. Then in the evening we ate and drank well, ending the night in front of the fire watching Line of Duty. This is definitely how Sundays should be spent.

A tree with a heart, encountered on my walk

Saturday 7 November 2020

Halloween Wine - Fifth Bottle (1) 30th-31st October 2020

 A bottle of Halloween Wine on All Hallows' Eve, albeit opened a day early. The wine has a hint of chili taste and is a dry, fruity red. Mostly we drank it whilst watching television. On Friday it was Taskmaster which is silly and joyous and exactly right for these difficult times. I think snot bubbled from my nose at one point. Then on Halloween we finished the bottle watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show with the Snarkalong Film Club. It was a radical film for 1975 and has actually aged quite well. Tim Curry is just fabulous!

Wiggy on my lap, using wide angle lens

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine 2020 - The Making Of...

Sunday 25th October was a day of industry. Our evening was to be spent having a virtual dinner-party via Zoom with Mary. When dining with Mary there is always a theme: we have had foods that rhyme, foods of a particular colour and food that starts with a letter in Dvorak's name. On Sunday Claire chose the theme and that theme was 'Tapas: Pride & Prejudice style'. Therefore much of my day was spent making Spanish dishes and trying to shoe-horn a way of fitting it into Pride & Prejudice. Pickled peppers stuffed with goats cheese and sprinkled with dill represented Lydia for being both cheap and easy. Patatas Bravas represented the early fiery nature of Lizzie and Darcy's relationship.

Lydia & Whickham - Tapas Style

When not making tapas, I was making Crab Apple & Strawberry wine. The 1 lb of strawberries was fished out from our freezer a couple of hours before I started in earnest. I needed 4 lbs of apples, but our crab apple tree only had 3 lbs left on it, so I bulked it out with 1 lb of apples from the tree in our back garden - thus robbing the blackbirds and squirrels of their full ration.

Apples on our tree

I mashed the strawberries, which had yet to defrost fully, in the bucket and whizzed the apples through the food processor, putting these in as well. As 6¾ pints of water boiled, I put 3 lbs sugar into the bucket and gave everything a good stir. Once the water was boiling I poured this into the mix and stirred again. Next morning I added a teaspoon each of yeast, pectolase and nutrient.

The ingredients before processing

On Wednesday evening we drank some of last year's Apple & Strawberry Wine, which was thin and boring. Therefore, I added a teaspoon of citric acid to my bucket as an experiment to avoid that fate - though I don't actually know what effect citric acid has!

The ingredients, after processing

On Saturday morning I sieved out the fruit and put the liquid into its demijohn - this time leaving a gap to avoid any overflow, and storing some wine in a separate bottle for topping up purposes. I could have reduced the water by about half a pint in the above recipe, but now I have a lovely red coloured wine bubbling away in the demijohn.

The End Result

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

Monday 2 November 2020

Rose Petal Wine 2016 - Seventeenth Bottle (B4), 30th October 2020

I am starting to worry about my weight loss. At the beginning of Lockdown I was over 10½ stone (or over 147 pounds or 67 kilos). Seven months later I am around 9 stone 10 (or 136 pounds or 62 kilos). Probably this is down to increased exercise, but maybe it isn't. Also I have been feeling dizzier of late. Therefore, I made an appointment today to get some blood tests done. Watch this space.

In the evening I made a fabulous butternut squash risotto (chili oil being the magic ingredient) and we drank this rose petal wine, which was surprisingly good.

[NB - If you think the photos below are too personal or inappropriate, let me know and I will delete them.]

Me on 11 July 

Me on 31 October

Sunday 1 November 2020

Apple & Strawberry Wine 2019 - First Bottle (1), 28th-29th October 2020

Well, this wine is disappointing. It doesn't taste much of either strawberry or apple, the wine is thin and there is just a hint of mustiness. In the past this flavour has been rather good. 2019's batch is a mid-week bottle at best, and probably one to be left gathering dust under the stairs.

Neither day on which we drank it has been memorable: dull, wet and cold late October days where the autumn colours are quickly sinking to the ground, turning into dark brown sludge beneath our feet.

Taken to represent the title of a film. Any guesses?

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

Saturday 31 October 2020

Kiwi Fruit Wine 2018 - Fifth Bottle (4), 21st-22nd October 2020

Oh, I'm bored. Everything is so much the same. I can't see an end to this enclosure that we discover ourselves in. Life's horizons have narrowed and it is an effort to remain entertained. On Wednesday and Thursday, in an attempt to find that entertainment, we watched Des: a grim drama (well made) about serial killer Dennis Nilsen. So that jollied things up.

We drank this bottle of Kiwi Fruit Wine over the two nights. Very much like a disappointing white wine with a slightly fruity taste.

A photo of a gate, taken on 22 October

Friday 30 October 2020

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Fourth Bottle (C6), 18th October 2020

I am enjoying this vintage of blackberry wine. It is the correct level of sweetness, is definitely a 'red' wine and maintains a strong bramble taste. It went nicely with Nigel Slater's recipe for Fatty Pork & Lentils, which I cooked whilst Claire was having a viola lesson.

This morning was spent stealing a march on my return to work tomorrow after a week's holiday. I needed a solid 4 hours without phones ringing to reduce 220 emails to 16 undealt with - and that is pretty efficient. My afternoon involved exploring the graveyard of Roundhay St John's Church.

Roundhay St John's Church

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2019 - Sixth Bottle (A3), 17th October 2020

A Saturday bottle of wine, drunk to 'Lemony Lentils' and 'Stuff lurking in the fridge baked in the oven' - both delicious. It being Saturday, we had a Snarkalong Film Club, and this week we watched Hackers, a 1995 'Teens against Big Business' computer conspiracy movie. I found it dull and incomprehensible and should have spent the evening with a book instead. Mind you, I am reading a silly book called The Corset, with the ridiculously named heroine, Dorothea Truelove.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2017 - Eleventh Bottle (B3), 16th-17th October 2020

Reading about previous bottles of this vintage, and on the strength of this bottle, I am surprised that I waxed lyrical about 2017's blackcurrant wine. This particular bottle has acquired that sherry taste that old bottles of home made wine can get. For some flavours this is a bonus. Blackcurrant is not one of those flavours. We still drank it though - grumbling as we went. 

Friday was my final day of a week's holiday and it hasn't been the best - what with Kato dying and all. Still, I managed a pleasant walk from Otley and along the Chevin and it was not a bad day.

Views over Wharfedale from the Chevin

Thursday 22 October 2020

Crab Apple Wine 2020 - The Making Of...

The thing that I have missed most from living at Carr Manor Mount, and possibly the only thing, is the crabapple tree. We planted it in 1999 and every year it produced tens of pounds of crab apples. My previous volumes of this diary show how much wine I was able to produce from it, and we still have a couple of bottles remaining from its final batch in 2015.

Large clumps of tiny apples

To recompense, we planted a new crabapple in 2017. The last two years have produced a disappointing haul. 2020, though, has been amazing. For such a small tree the crop is huge: tightly bunched tiny red apples in large clusters. It is as if the tree is covered in scarlet jewels, and it was almost a shame to harvest them.

I did this on Friday 9th October - my first day of Holiday, where we are going neither to the Netherlands nor to Norfolk because of Covid 19. Picking 4 lbs 3 oz of the reddest apples has still left a decent crop on the tree and I could probably have picked the same again. But it is a new variety of crab apple (I forget which) so safest to stick with a single batch this year.

Harvested crab apples

I washed the apples (drowning a spider in the process, which I regret) and whizzed them through the food processor. These went into my bucket, along with 1 lb of minced sultanas (again using the food processor) and 3 lbs sugar. I boiled 7 pints of water and poured this in, giving everything a good stir. On Saturday morning I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and pectolase.

Sliced apples

I had meant to put the wine into its demijohn on both Wednesday and Thursday, but both days I came back late from a long walk, so I did this Friday morning, 16th October instead. It being later than usual I thought that the ferment would be less vigorous, so filled the demijohn and was a little alarmed at how much sediment it looked like there would be. About half an hour later I was mopping that sediment off the kitchen surfaces and floor. The fermentation had been no less vigorous and the wine had exploded through the air trap.

Bubbling over

I poured some wine out of the demijohn and into a sterilised wine bottle, topping the demijohn up when it was safe to do so (about 24 hours later). Still, it means that I have more wine and less sediment than I might otherwise have had.

Safely in the demijohn

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