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 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.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Orange Wine 2018 - Ninth Bottle (B4), 14th -15th October 2020

We drank the majority of this bottle with a Chinese Takeaway from G-Wu, and very fine Chinese food it was too. A chilled orange wine feels like the right one to have in these circumstances. The day itself was not my best day of holiday ever. In the morning we buried Kato (grave digging, even for a cat, is hard work) and in the afternoon I went for a rubbish walk round semi-industrial areas of Batley.

Thursday was better: it was the 25th anniversary of Claire and my first kiss, and we celebrated by walking the Malham Round. You can't beat a good bit of limestone pavement.

A good bit of limestone pavement

Monday 19 October 2020

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Ninth Bottle (B4), 13th October 2020

Kato died today. Earlier in the afternoon he let out two howls and I found him lying awkwardly in the dining room. Then, in the evening immediately before Bake Off, he raised his head to the sky, gave a long low cry and died.

Kato was just a fabulous cat - probably my favourite ever - and I mourn his passing. We have only shared his life for three years - less - but I would not have been without him. I wish, though, that we had had more time. And now there is a Kato-shaped hole in our house.

This bottle was already open when Kato died and we finished it between us without tasting any of it.

Me and Kato - not great of either of us!

Sunday 18 October 2020

Rhubarb Wine 2017 - Thirteenth Bottle (A1), 11th October 2020

The combination of it being a crisp autumn day and being on holiday meant that the day was perfect for a long walk. I chose an 8 mile walk from Wistow to Cawood and back along the banks of the Ouse. Whilst it was not the most dramatic scenery, it was a lovely few hours being alone under large skies. 

Alone under large skies

At home I made a salmon, new potato and spring onion flan and opened this bottle of rhubarb wine. It being most like a white wine, it went well with the food and there is little else to say.

Along the banks of the Ouse

Saturday 17 October 2020

Ginger Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (6), 10th October 2020

Claire and I disagree on Ginger Wine's prominent flavour. Quite reasonably, Claire argues that it is ginger. In this, she is entirely wrong. The dominant flavour is, in fact, lemon. Whichever (and it is lemon), this is a thoroughly decent wine.

We drank it on a quiet Saturday where the highlight was watching The Princess Bride; a lovely film, full of wit and charm.

Saturday's breakfast

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Apple Wine 2018 - Fifth Bottle (4), 4th October 2020

There was a prominent apple taste to this wine. Unsurprising, because it is effectively alcoholic apple juice. I chose apple wine to go with a massive slab of roast pork. Claire cooked it slowly, with its skin smothered in chili paste and paprika, producing the best crackling that I have ever had. The wine choice was perfect.

After feasting on this, we watched the final episode of Line of Duty Series 3, which was as tense second time round as the first. Really excellent television.

Crab Apples in our garden, taken on 4 October

This post is dedicated to my reader (identity unknown) now in London. It was a post on Apple Wine that got me into all that bother about a year ago, and which taught me a valuable lesson not to steal people's photos. I just have concerns that the reader who searches for 'apple' every day is the same person who taught me that lesson. If so, he can rest assured that I will not put his photo up again, and all photos used now are mine. If not, drop me a line!

Monday 12 October 2020

Elderberry Wine 2018 - Third Bottle (B4), 7th-8th October 2020

I think that this elderberry wine is now ready to drink. It will continue to benefit from aging, but it has lost that 'Too Young' feel to it. We drank it over the last two nights before our October holiday (which will be another one spent at home) and though I worked later than I would have on a normal working day both nights, it was not by much. There is a satisfaction in shutting down the computer, knowing that your in-box only has 5 ancient emails to deal with. It will be somewhat different on my return, but that is a problem for later.

Taken on 7th October

Blackberry Wine 2018 - Ninth Bottle (B5), 3rd October 2020

Claire and I have known each other 25 years. A quarter of a century ago I met her on the way to Newcastle Concert Band. I can barely remember a time before Claire. To celebrate, I bought a vacuum cleaner, which Claire is using as I write. Our previous one broke in March and we have been living in a fog of cat hair ever since. I also opened a bottle of blackberry wine and cooked Toad in the Hole. Both were exactly what was needed on a dark October day.

Self portrait in blue - taken on 3rd October

Monday 5 October 2020

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (B4), 30th September - 1st October 2020

Prune & Parsnip is the 'Go To' wine when you don't fancy a red but nothing has been chilled. One does not drink cold gasses of sherry, after all. 

This time last year we were in Croatia and two years ago it was Denver. In a week's time my holiday will be spent walking in Yorkshire. Again. Ho hum.

Both Wednesday and Thursday were pleasant, unremarkable days.

These arrived in the post on Thursday

Sunday 4 October 2020

Japonica Quince Wine - The Making Of...

2020, despite its myriad flaws, has been splendid for hard fruit. Our crab apple, pear and apple trees are laden. More unusually, so are all three flowering quinces. In past years they have put out two or three knobbly yellow fruits each. If used at all, these have been turned into jelly but mostly have been ignored. This year, though, each plant has tens of quinces, and that has made my wine-making thumbs twitch. I am not absolutely certain that Japonica Quince wine will work. After all, these are not the edible quinces. Neither, though, are they poisonous and there is only one way to discover whether they are suitable for wine.

Japonica Quinces on their bush

On 27th September I picked 4 lbs 8 oz of quinces, which is probably less than half our potential harvest. This was the bloodiest foraging that I have done: flowering quinces have fierce spikes and my left hand looks like it has done several rounds with an angry cat.

Minor flesh wounds

Back inside, after bathing my wounds, I checked recipes. The one requiring 20 proper quinces was out, leaving the one requiring 3 lemons and the other calling for 1 lb sultanas. I chose the latter on the basis that my previous quince wine was too dry and sultanas should help. Also, this is how I make apple wine.

My haul of quinces

I sliced all the quinces (after washing them) using the food processor and put them in my pan with 7 pints of water. I brought this to the boil and simmered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile I minced 12 oz sultanas (reducing the amount the recipe said, so as to preserve the delicate quince taste) and put these in my bucket with 3 lbs sugar. Once the 15 minutes was up, I poured the water and quinces (and thousands of seeds) into the bucket and stirred until the sugar was dissolved.

The quinces, once sliced

The next morning, Monday, I added a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase, citric acid and yeast. On Friday 2nd October I put the wine into its demijohn, which was a lengthy and tedious task. Japonica Quince wine appears to have 'sludge' as its main characteristic, and it was slow to drain through its sieve. Its colour is an attractive peach but there is much foam at the top and I fear it will make an attempt to escape the confines of its glass prison.

Taken the following morning, when the
sediment had sunk.

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

Saturday 3 October 2020

Elderflower, Mint & Rhubarb Wine 2019 - Second Bottle (2), 26th September 2020

Saturday had the feel of 'Every Saturday' about it: rising later than a weekday, morning trip to the post office to send out the week's documents, afternoon shop followed by Scrabble with Mom. Nice meal in the evening, and then the Snarkalong Film Club: Heathers this week, which I did not much enjoy. Making the day slightly different was installing our new garden bench and christening it with coffee and cake. Also, drinking this bottle of wine (one of my rarer flavours), which I think is splendid but which Claire thinks has a touch of mouthwash.

Christening the bench with coffee and cake