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