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.

Sunday 31 January 2021

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Eighth Bottle (B5), 23rd January 2021

I dug out a bottle of Orange 2016 for Saturday night, but on one sip that was rejected and Claire requested something nice. Blackberry wine satisfied that job description and helped round off a gentle yet enjoyable Saturday. I turned the remaining bit of the Sicilian Lemon & Orange Cake into a fabulous bread & butter pudding and our Snarkalong Film Club was Galaxy Quest. This was charming and funny and sweet natured, and it appealed to the barely-hidden science-fiction geek within.

Wiggy, looking as if 
butter wouldn't melt

Saturday 30 January 2021

Rhubarb Wine 2018 - Eleventh Bottle (C4), 22nd January 2021

My hypothesis that Claire can drink batch C of this wine without complaining appears to hold water. There were no comments about its terrible flavour, and it was no effort to finish the bottle. We drank it to haddock & chips from the chippy round the corner, which was a treat. It was a cold night to wait outside for them - but better that than being huddled with strangers inside the shop. At home we had no tomato sauce, so I made do with damson ketchup instead.

I took no photos on 22 January, but here is a photo
of a new shirt that I bought recently from Blake Mill
which I absolutely love. It's called 'Statues' apparently.

Saturday 23 January 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Third Bottle (B4), 17th January 2021

Little Miss Muffet 

On Sunday evening we had a Zoom High Tea with Mary. Our theme was 'nursery rhymes'. Claire made Little Miss Muffet and the terrifying spider from meringue. Alas, Mary is a vegetarian, so she was unable to have a little lamb, but instead took on the Queen of Hearts' persona and made some tarts. I made a Sicilian Orange and Lemon cake - which only has a tenuous connection - but it was excellent. As light as any panettone. We didn't mean to finish this bottle of wine, but somehow it slipped down just a little too well.

My Sicilian Orange & Lemon cake

Thursday 21 January 2021

Ginger Wine 2021 - The Making Of...

Saturday 9th January began as one of those bitterly cold sunlit days which is the best sort of winter day. Friday's snow had turned from damp and malleable to hard, crunchy and entirely satisfying to walk over. Claire's gender non-specific snowperson was still standing and no-one had stolen its hat. There were a fox's footsteps leading down our drive and everything in the neighbourhood looked different. We get snow so rarely, far less than I remember from my childhood, that I become giddy when it is here.

Ingredients in the snow (plus a bird's footprints)

The walk to Chapel Allerton to buy ingredients for ginger wine was a pleasure, particularly my route through the park watching children hurtling down the hill on their sleds, colourful against the white.


I had intended to start this wine on the Saturday but the day ran away from me, so winemaking was a task for Sunday instead. I weighed 6½ oz ginger and, having read an article in The Guardian saying that removing skin from ginger was unnecessary, I gave it a quick scrub instead, sliced it thinly - skin and all - and put this in my bucket. Next I took four lemons and sliced the outermost peel from them, avoiding the pith, and put this in the bucket along with all their juice (11 fluid ounces). I then minced 1 lb of sultanas with the food processor and this went in too. My final winemaking task for the day was to boil 3½ pints of water and pour this over everything.

Lemons and peel

On Monday lunchtime, a day where the snow has vanished entirely, I boiled another 3½ pints of water and put this into the bucket with 2 lbs 8 oz of sugar. I let this cool for five hours and then added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient and pectolase.

The dry ingredients (except for sugar)

It took well over 24 hours before I was convinced that the yeast was doing its thing, but eventually it clearly was. I left the wine until Saturday 16th January before putting it into the demijohn - and there it is bubbling away: opaque and dark yellow.

Ginger wine in its demijohn

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2019 - Ninth Bottle (B6), 16th January 2021

Saturday was one of those days where I pottered. It was much like all other Saturdays have been stretching back for months. Post Office, grocery shopping, Scrabble with my mother, bottle of wine (as prune & parsnippy as ever) and Snarkalong film (Ocean's Eight). The only different thing was that I made a serious effort with our Book Group Book: Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford. It is 824 pages long. I have reached page 144 and Nothing At All Has Happened. I am relieved that I still have nearly four weeks until Book Group.

Parade's End

Sunday 17 January 2021

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - Seventh Bottle (B1), 15th January 2021

Having had a massively busy December where I was working 1,000 miles an hour, it is nice to have a gentle January. This week I was able to take Claire's birthday off entirely (and made a Swiss roll!) and on Friday lunchtime Claire and I went for a walk in Moortown Park, which had turned into a winter wonderland. The amount of snow we have had this week has been unusual.

In the evening I cooked a tortilla (chorizo makes everything better), we watched ER and drank this bottle of blackcurrant wine. It was an unexciting yet thoroughly satisfying day.


The Swiss Roll that I made

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Ginger Wine 2020 - First Bottle (3), 10th January 2021

Once again, ginger wine proves itself to be a suitable flavour to do every year. This is an excellent bottle of wine: it has both a strong ginger and citrus taste, and is dry enough to go with a proper meal. We drank this with Rachel & Duncan, insofar as one can in these days of Covid 19. Zoom is excellent for a long evening chat with just one other screen. We each cooked the same meal - a Malaysian chicken curry - and spent three hours plus chatting. It was a superb evening and felt nearly like we were in the same room. There are definite possibilities presented by Lockdown.

A photo I took on 10 January which 
tells a tragic tale.

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

Thursday 7 January 2021

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2017 - Eleventh Bottle (B6), 30th December 2020

Today has been an excellent day. It has mostly involved a walk round Fairburn Ings and Ledston with Jenny (and Claire, of course). The weather was perfect for a winter walk: low sunshine and never above freezing, with thin dustings of snow. The planned walk went through large swathes of water so this involved much re-routing, but to the benefit of the day. Once home and after a gin & tonic, we drank this Prune & Parsnip to leftover duck cassoulet and an episode of The Queen's Gambit.

Jenny & Claire in perfect winter walking conditions

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Seventh Bottle (B1), 28th December 2020

The period between Christmas and New year has an individual feel. It is one of enforced idleness - and that is far from being the same as 'boredom'. The days stretch out and are filled with gentle activities. As with the two previous days, I spent my time on jigsaws (two), a gingerbread house and a moderate walk (one of each). Also, this bottle of wine, which was earthy in its brambleness, drunk to a fabulous duck cassoulet and and episode of The Queen's Gambit, which is a very 'Now' thing to watch. Who'd have thought that a drama about chess would be quite so engrossing?

The Gingerbread House (plus scaffolding)

Sunday 3 January 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2020 - The Making Of...

Christmas this year, in The Year of The Pestilence, has been different around the country. Those in southern England must celebrate alone. In the north, we were allowed to mix with one other household, but only for the day. Claire and I stayed put - our first Christmas in only each other's company since around 2006. And we had a lovely time. Being married to one's best friend is such a gift, and in this year of enforced isolation has been vital.

We spent much of the day on a 12 mile walk, which I had said would be nine, and watching The Crown (now that I have finally relented and subscribed to Netflix). The first thing I did, though, on Christmas Day, was to empty the freezer of fruit, weigh it and put it into the bucket to defrost.

Much of the fruit

In the order in which this came from the freezer, this wine has:

  • 1 lb 10 oz blackberries
  • 6 oz yellow raspberries
  • 2 lbs 9 oz gooseberries
  • 2 oz blackcurrants
  • 1½ oz rosepetals
  • 1 lb 2½ oz elderberries
  • 4 oz red raspberries
  • 1 lb 9½ oz damsons
  • 3 oz red gooseberries
  • 1 lb ½ oz sloes
  • One clementine (2 oz) (which should have been a satsuma or a tangerine, but never mind)
That all comes to 9 lbs 2 oz of fruit - more than plenty for a double batch.

After attacking the fruit with a potato masher

It defrosted until Boxing Day morn, at which point I attacked the fruit with a potato masher and poured over 12 pints of boiling water. The wine received 5 lbs 11 oz sugar in time, but I only had 3 lbs of sugar at that point in the house, which went in and was stirred until it dissolved.

The discarded fruit

I added two teaspoons of yeast (a new variety - and I checked it was working before adding it), two of nutrient and one of pectolase together with the additional sugar on 27th December. By New Year's Eve, where in normal years we would be in Cambridge, this was ready to go into its demijohn. This was a slow process enlivened by a You're Dead to Me podcast about vampires in Romantic Victorian Literature, and it was clear that I could have used two pints less water in the recipe. The wine is an alarming and wonderful burgundy-with-a-splash-of-purple colour, but it looks like the sediment will be huge.

Two demijohns of alarmingly coloured wine

Saturday 2 January 2021

Rhubarb Wine 2019 - Sixth Bottle (A3), 26th December 2020

Claire expressed mild surprise that this was a good bottle of wine. I had no doubts that it would be. Rhubarb is a reliable white (with a blush of pink): dry, light and refreshing.

We had the sort of Boxing Day that the 26th of December is made for. I did not leave the house and spent my day in the company of a jigsaw puzzle, a make-your-own gingerbread house, a book of lists and the television. A day of idleness and relaxation, and getting gently sozzled in the evening. How else should Boxing Day be spent?

The Gingerbread House before Construction

Friday 1 January 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Second Bottle (C5), 25th December 2020

This is an excellent bottle of wine. It has so much fruit packed into the taste that it is difficult to extract any one individual flavour. There is a real depth to the wine and I am delighted that there are still 16 bottles to go.

It was a quiet Christmas this year, for obvious reasons. Claire and I had a 12 mile walk to Shadwell, Thorner and back. Despite having done this walk twice this year already, I still managed to deviate from the route (a euphemism for 'get lost') on two occasions. Claire was good-naturedly scathing and it made the walk memorable.

A long, muddy, Christmas Day walk