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.

Monday 31 August 2020

Nectarine Wine - Fifth Bottle (4), 27th August 2020

This wine has not improved with keeping. Claire could not think of anything good to say about it beyond that it was not undrinkable. I decided, on the strength of this bottle, that Nectarine is not a flavour from which to make wine again. It was bland, thin, slightly bitter and not what one would look for in a white wine.

In other news, I made a quiche.

Taken on 27 August

Sunday 30 August 2020

Apple Wine 2018 - Third Bottle (1), 20th August 2020

I thought that apple wine was best drunk young, but this bottle is middle aged and was rather splendid. It helps that we now have a fridge that works, so the wine was nicely chilled. I made a quiche - which was also splendid (and that shall be the word for the day). It turns out that pastry made from 4 oz flour is only just enough for our quiche tin and it required quite a lot of patching.

We are currently binging on Green Wing and on Thursday it reached the episode where Olivia Coleman sticks a banana down Joanna Clore's cleavage. I had to bathe my streaming eyes.

Taken on 20 August - I like the shadows.

Saturday 29 August 2020

Rose Petal & Orange Wine 2019 - First Bottle (5), 12th July 2020

When I bottled this wine earlier this week, Claire suggested that there were some wines for which I did not need to wait a year before drinking. This one, being delicious on bottling, was a prime example. I took it round to David & Liz's for a (garden) dinner party, and the wine was properly good: it was smooth, delicate (not something often said of my wines) and delightful. Everyone genuinely liked it - and none of Phil, Angie, David, Liz or Claire are shy of telling me when my wine is horrid.

It was a lovely evening, and only not-normal in that we all brought our own plates, glasses and eating implements, and we spent the entire time outdoors, which meant that the party was only broken up by the falling temperature.

Angie and Phil at the dinner party

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

Friday 28 August 2020

Damson Wine 2020 - The Making Of

Since Lockdown started, I have been working from home. Whilst I thought that I would hate this, it is something that has definite advantages. I miss the camaraderie of office life, but there is a certain freedom in being alone at home with the cats and my own kitchen. To stay fit, I have taken a long walk every morning before work, and on Thursday morning, 20th August, this took me along Broomhill Drive.

Our damson tree - not enough damsons

I noticed several damsons on the pavement and grass verge of this particular street. Many were looking unblemished, so not having a bag with me, I filled my pockets. It is unfortunate that both pockets have holes, so I had to walk the remaining kilometre holding onto my trousers, occasionally feeling a damson roll down my leg. When I regaled Claire with this story that evening, she mentioned that there was a damson tree in Potternewton Park. Friday morning's walk was decided upon.

My disappointing first view of the damson tree

My first sight of the damson tree was disappointing: the fruit was impossibly out-of-reach. But then I looked at the ground: surrounding me were damsons with their blue-purple dusty covering, looking like eggs from an exotic, flightless bird. This time I had a bag and picked up the fruit that was still intact.

Like eggs on the ground

At home I weighed my haul - with those from Broomhill Drive, I had 5 lbs 9 oz, and I only needed 4 lbs of these for a batch of wine. I put the damsons in a bowl, freezing what was surplus, and covered them in water for 10 hours.

Damsons in my bucket

In the evening I mashed the damsons - they are surprisingly yellow inside - covered them in 2 lbs 12 oz sugar and poured over 6½ pints of water. (It turns out that 6 pints would have done.)

Surprisingly yellow

On Saturday morning I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and pectolase and, in the evening when I read about what I had done in 2018, I added a teaspoon of citric acid. Over the next few days I gave my bucket of liquid a stir, and then put the wine into its demijohn on Wednesday night, 26th August, sieving out the solids. This process (including the sterilising time) took not quite the whole of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, which was playing on Radio 3 whilst I did this.

Fermenting in my bucket

The wine is lighter than I remember from two years ago, but still a splendid red.

A splendid colour

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

Thursday 27 August 2020

Blackberry Wine 2019 - First Bottle (B6), 6th-7th August 2020

This is perhaps not my best blackberry wine ever, but it is entirely acceptable. Having another 17 bottles to drink does not fill me with dismay. There is the usual bramble hit to the flavour, but it is not as full-on or as sweet as my best vintages of blackberry wine.

We drank a glass each on Thursday night and then finished the bottle on Friday, when I felt that I deserved a drink. It was the end of the first week back from holiday (a stay-cation, naturally) and I was exceptionally busy at work. But I have now very nearly caught up - and that is worth celebrating.

Taken on 7 August - an artichoke flower

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

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - Second Bottle (B6), 1st-2nd August 2020

This bottle has come at the end of a week's holiday. That week should have been one of hedonism at Rydal Hall, but for obvious reasons that was cancelled. It has been a good week, despite that - but by Saturday (when this bottle was opened) I was all walked-out. 

Mom & Pop came over for lunch and I spent much of the rest of the day harvesting redcurrants and watching Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists (and blackcurrant wine went well with this). We finished the bottle tonight, which has been another lazy day - but now I'm facing Work tomorrow. Eeek.

Redcurrants - harvested

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2019, Fourth Bottle (A4) - 14th-15th August 2020

This started life as a Friday night bottle. Our fridge-freezer had just packed in, and so it was a stressful start to the weekend. However, it improved massively (for me, at least). I spent the rest of Friday night playing wind quintets in a garden in Woodhouse - the first time that I have played in an ensemble since March. It was such a lovely evening - what would once have been ordinary has become special. Unexpectedly, my favourite piece of the evening was an arrangement of Mahler. Leaving Claire with this bottle was a small sacrifice, and I had plenty on Saturday.

Taken on 14 August - allotments off Harrogate Road

Monday 24 August 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2018 - Ninth Bottle (C5), 15th-17th August 2020

Claire didn't hate this wine! Demijohn C must therefore be acceptable in some way that Demijohns A and B are not. However, she only had a small portion of this bottle, having drunk too much on Friday night.

I spent Saturday clearing stuff out of our broken fridge-freezer and then putting it into our new one. More interestingly (barely), I took my bassoon over to Bingley for it to be repaired. It has needed a service for several years and has now stopped playing its lowest notes. I very much hope that this will not be terminal! Nearly a week later I have yet to hear the prognosis.

Leaving this bottle so long between finishing it and writing about it, I cannot bring its taste to mind. Much like other rhubarb wines, I expect.

A photo taken on 15 August

Sunday 23 August 2020

Elderberry Wine 2017 - Ninth Bottle (A6), 16th August 2020

Sunday was one of those days where I felt that I had done very little with it. I am rarely bored - or more accurately I rarely have boring moments, though recently have had whole weeks which are dull - but Sunday was a day of tedium. At one point I forced myself to get away from the computer and go for a walk. Big mistake. I have rarely been so wet when fully clothed. The deluge was so extreme that all I could do was laugh. Three days later and my trainers are still damp. Anyway, we had a bottle of elderberry wine in the evening, which had lumps, and watched 'Line of Duty'
The weather (and this only hints at it)

Saturday 22 August 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - First Bottle (A5), 14th-15th July 2020

 I have made another fine vintage of blackcurrant wine. This is one of the most drinkable of all the wines that I make - in that there is a fruit-sweetness to it and that gives it a "to be glugged rather than savoured" quality. Therefore, it is of some surprise that we drank it over two nights.

Tuesday nights are currently Broadchurch nights. Claire has not seen it before, whereas I have. Knowing who the killer is does not make it less enjoyable, which indicates that it is well written, directed and performed. The clues to the killer's identity are subtle in the extreme.

Rosebay Willow Herb, taken on 14 July

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

Friday 21 August 2020

Strawberry Wine 2019 - First Bottle (6), 4th July 2020

 My fears about this wine proved needless. Even Claire, who is not ordinarily a fan of strawberry wine, said that she liked it. The taste of strawberry is definitely there, but maybe not as pronounced as previous years. It may be a little drier too: more like a white wine than before.

It being 4th July, we ate fried chicken, potato salad and Boston Baked Beans, and then watched Little Shop of Horrors with Sally, Sooz and Jayne. It is a great musical - good tunes, clever lyrics, an amazing cast and just an overall joy.

Taken on 4th July

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

Thursday 20 August 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2019 - Third Bottle (B1), 23rd-24th July 2020

Work has been extremely busy this week. It always is the week before I have a holiday. I get into a mindset that I must clear my email in-box by the time I turn off the computer on the Friday - and that means several late nights. Well, working till seven - and for me that is late. Therefore, using wine when cooking (not in the food, you understand) was a natural consequence.

This rhubarb wine is a glorious colour - it has retained some of its pinkness and it has a fine taste. Claire finished what we didn't drink on Thursday after we had eaten on Friday. That night it was a take-out curry and therefore I was on the beer.

Another postbox - taken on 23rd July

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2019 - Second Bottle (A2), 23rd-24th June 2020

At Claire's suggestion, we carried out an experiment with this bottle of wine. Was it possible for us to open it and yet not drink the whole lot? Recently it has been rare indeed for wine to stay overnight, only half drunk. The experiment was a success, though we did not push our luck and try for a three-day bottle.

On Wednesday evening the weather was so lovely that we ate (and drank) outdoors, watching frogs in the pond and enjoying the last of the day's warmth. It is how summer evenings should be spent.

Eating outside on 24 June (with Kato)

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Magnolia Petal Wine - Second Bottle (4), 26th July 2020

I think that this flavour of wine is fabulous: it has an unusual taste - almost earthy, with a distinct bite to it. Claire says that she won't be upset if she never has to drink Magnolia Petal wine again. I fear that it may not become one of my regular wines after all.

We drank the bottle after I had spent the day walking round the Harewood Estate. It was a pleasant walk, taking in designed-in-the-18th-century landscape, a hidden church and rolling fields. The hidden church was my highlight: locked, unfortunately, but surrounded by gravestones peering through long, yellow grass.

In the evening we had a Zoom Gin O'Clock gathering with many of those that we should have been with at Rydal Hall. A pleasant alternative, but not the same as the real thing.

Harewood Church

Sunday 16 August 2020

Halloween Wine - Fourth Bottle (3), 11th-12th August 2020

 This is another of those bottles that I have left two days since finishing before writing this entry and I cannot remember a thing about what happened when I drank it.

At that point of writing, Claire declared that our fridge-freezer was entirely broken, so it was "Pens down. Action stations". I googled and then rang a local fridge-freezer repair place (Abtech Appliance Repairs) and made an appointment for Sunday morning (since moved to Saturday), put everything that could be saved in a bag and carted it around to David & Liz's. We are going to have a ton of redcurrant jelly this year!

The sky looking dramatic on 11th August

Rose Petal Wine 2018 - Seventh Bottle (B1), 10th-11th August 2020

Having not had any alcohol on Sunday, we felt justified in opening a bottle on Monday (and then finishing it on Tuesday). The major event is that Claire is back at work. Her Proper Job, rather than waiting for Covid 19 samples to process. Therefore the wine was a celebration of sorts (though was not quite good enough to deserve that label). It also marked the passing of Cornelia Gruntfuttock, Claire's alter-ego on Facebook. The Facebook authorities have caught up with her and deleted the account, which I think is mean. Claire is less upset than I would be in similar circumstances - and has returned with a vengeance as Fanny Taylor.

A photo of some bracket fungi taken on 10 August

Saturday 15 August 2020

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Seventh Bottle (A3), 25th July 2020

We drank this bottle on the start of a week's holiday. It should have been the Rydal Hall week, but Covid 19 has put a stop to that. Instead I will be holidaying in Yorkshire and today that involved a walk in the environs of Hovingham with Bridget and family. It was a delight to see them, and Gemma is getting towards the age that Bridget and I were when we first met at Youth Theatre Yorkshire.

In the evening we had a Zoom chat with Rachel & Duncan in which this bottle was opened and finished. Fruity and zingy, but not zingy enough to keep me awake through Mary Poppins.

Hovingham Hall plus cricket match

Friday 14 August 2020

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Sixth Bottle (B6), 17th July 2020

Ian Ward has died. I heard from Paul on Monday that he was dangerously ill, and by Friday he was dead. It wasn't Covid 19 and I'm not quite clear what it was. Paul, being in Canada, cannot come over without quarantining for a fortnight. It is a miserable position to be in. And I am hugely sad at Ian's loss - he was a fine and good man - so much more than my best friend's dad. We opened this bottle and toasted Ian from the glasses given to us by Paul and Allie for our wedding.

An Edwardian Post Box taken on 17 July

Thursday 13 August 2020

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Fifth Bottle (B3), 7th-8th June 2020

I hardly got a taste of this wine. But that was because I had a whole bottle of rhubarb wine to get through that had been rejected by Claire as being undrinkable (I thought it was fine). Therefore I made do with a couple of sips and left the rest to Claire.

On Sunday I was feeling particularly low about nearly being 50 and wasted the day doing virtually nothing. Monday was better, but I do find it odd that I am in the last week of my 40s.

A door in Leeds that I liked on 7 June

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Damson Wine - Final Bottle (6), 14th June 2020

This was the bottle that I chose for my 50th birthday. It is such a good wine - rich plum tastes combined with a vanilla smoothness. We drank it to steak in a blue cheese sauce, and then a second birthday cake for pudding.

One of my two birthday cakes

The day was perfect and I should have a significant birthday more often. In the morning Claire and I went for an 8 mile walk, centering on Lead Church. Then we went to York for a socially distant birthday lunch with Mom and Pop in the garden. Back home for a snooze and we finished by Zooming with Chris & Kate, Mom & Pop, and Todd & Anne.

My Birthday Lunch

Lead Church

On the Walk

On the Walk

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Apple & Strawberry Wine 2018 - Third Bottle (3), 15th-16th July 2020

I wasn't planning on opening a second bottle on Wednesday, but Claire has had dreadful news from Work and was in need of a perception filter. The building in which she works has essentially been condemned by the Fire Officer: unsafe compartmentalisation and cladding. So, it has to be rebuilt in stages, which will take about 18 months. Meanwhile, Claire's fixed term contract ticks down and lab space becomes difficult. Hence the bottle of wine. In fact, this bottle has improved since the last. It is no longer thin, but is refreshing and light.

Mushrooms - taken on 16th July

Monday 10 August 2020

Strawberry Wine 2018 - Fourth Bottle (2), 2nd August 2020

This really is not a good vintage of strawberry wine. There is something just a little bitter about it and it commits the cardinal sin of not being very interesting. We managed to drink the whole bottle on Sunday night, though - and that wasn't the only alcohol for the evening. It was the night before going back to work after a week's holiday - and that is always a difficult evening (made easier by a bottle of unpleasant strawberry wine). I am writing this two days later and so far have survived!

I made blackcurrant wine on Sunday too.
I won't blog about this one, though - I did
exactly the same as 'Blackcurrant & Raspberry'
which I have only recently blogged about

Sunday 9 August 2020

Orange Wine 2018 - Eighth Bottle (B2), 4th-5th August 2020

Being on holiday is great. The week I am back at work is somewhat less so. There is a feel of continual fire-fighting where everything appears more urgent than it probably is. On Tuesday night, which was when most of this bottle was drunk, I was cook for the evening and made a fish pie. Fish is meant to be good brain food - and by the end of that particular working day, anything to help my brain was welcome. The orange wine probably did less of a good job in that respect, but was just as appreciated. There was only half a glass each left for Wednesday.

Some Victorian piano music found lurking on our shelves
Taken on 4th August

Saturday 8 August 2020

Elderberry Wine 2018 - Second Bottle (A3), 19th July 2020

This elderberry wine is still too young. It retains a vaguely metallic taste and has yet to attain a proper depth. It is drinkable, nonetheless, and we did not struggle to finish the bottle.

The day's most notable feature was a long conversation with Paul. I don't think that I have spoken to him for about six years, but we carried on as if it was only yesterday. The circumstances - Ian's death - were tragic, but Paul was philosophical and surprisingly good humoured. He can't get to the funeral, of course, but will come to a future memorial service.

The years fell away as we spoke - as if we were still teenagers, still sitting next to each other in Maths. He (along with Bridget) is the best friend that I have ever had.

Taken on 19 July

Friday 7 August 2020

Blackberry Wine 2018 - Eighth Bottle (A2), 11th July 2020

I had enough wine to stun a horse on Saturday. Going for lunch with Rodney will do that. Though restaurants are newly open again, we went for the less risky option and ate fish and chips round his house - with the condiments mostly being red wine. It was a lovely, drunken afternoon, but not one to do on a regular basis.

In the evening I opened this bottle (for Claire's sake, you understand) but still had a glass and a half myself. We watched Singin' in the Rain as a Snarkalong Film Club. It remains my favourite ever movie.

Taken on 11 July - some allotments

Thursday 6 August 2020

Blackberry Wine 2018 - Seventh Bottle (A6), 9th June 2020

Work has got busy again. During the first several weeks of Lockdown I was scraping around for things to do. Now, though, it feels like the housing market has picked up again and my days are full. I would prefer to be in the office: for the people and the colour printer.

In the evening I cooked a chilli, we drank a whole bottle of blackberry (this self-isolation is doing nothing for my liver) and we watched episode 1 of series 1 of Broadchurch. Claire has not seen it and does not know the murderer's identity. I have and I do. We both very much enjoyed it.

Taken on 9th June

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2018 - Eleventh Bottle (A2), 12th July 2020

Not drunk, but given away. We went round to Lindsay and Anthony's on Sunday afternoon to pick blackcurrants for this year's wine and in payment I took this bottle along. The weather was delightful and we had a lovely hour or so chatting in the garden and plucking fruit from its bush. For a short while, everything felt normal.

Taken on 12 July - this is, in fact, Liz and David

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2018 - Tenth Bottle (B3), 2nd June 2020

We had the warmest, driest Spring experienced since 2018. Just before the weather turned, we had a Government Approved Social Gathering in our garden. Regulations say that you can now have meetings of up to 6 people remaining socially distant outside - and that is what we did. David, Liz, Angie and Phil all came round, pizzas were delivered and we got through rather more wine than is sensible for a Tuesday, including this bottle. It was a lovely, lovely evening.

Setting up our garden on 2nd June

Sunday 2 August 2020

Rose Petal Wine 2018 - Sixth Bottle (A3), 29th-30th July 2020

I had not expected this wine to be as good as it was and only opened it because it was midweek (albeit I am on holiday) and we had emptied our previous bottle. But it was a heavy white, in the best possible way, with roses being present but not overpowering.

Troller's Gill

Earlier I had walked in Troller's Gill, a small ravine in the Yorkshire Dales, which was stunning, and then broken the car on my drive home. This meant that I got to Thursday's walk - 9 miles up and down the Wharfe from Harewood Bridge - by taking the bus (wearing my face-mask of course).

Harewood Bridge and the Wharfe

Mint, Rhubarb & Elderflower Wine 2017 - Final Bottle (1), 28th-29th July 2020

This bottle has not improved on keeping. It was okay, but nothing more than, and I thought I detected a bitter note. The two days on which we drank it, though, were excellent. I had long walks in the Pennines on Tuesday and the Dales on Wednesday - and both were beautiful in different ways. The Pennines are grittier and bleaker somehow.

The Pennines

Coming back from the Dales the car made alarming noises, intermittently at first and then - 2 miles from home - continually. I called the AA and sat by the road until they came.

The Dales

Saturday 1 August 2020

Blackcurrant Wine 2018 - Ninth Bottle (B6), 25th May 2020

This bottle was curiously sherry-like, as if it had been maturing for years, when in fact it is quite recent. The thick, fortified taste was not a bad thing at all. I opened it on a warm bank-holiday evening and we drank it to sausages, mash and onion gravy, before going for a walk round the neighbourhood, peering into other people's gardens and generally being nosy. Having a leisurely walk on a warm, light evening with my wife is one of life's great pleasures.

Evening sunlight on our garden
taken on 25th May