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 28 February 2021

Gooseberry Wine 2020 - First Bottle (6), 21st February 2021

Claire requested a wine that was white and sharp and nice. Though I ran through a few options that fulfilled two of the three, the end result as always going to be Gooseberry. I am also being trained by Claire to break my rule of waiting a year before having the first bottle of anything. Her argument is that if the wine is nice at the point of bottling, why wait any longer? As always, she has a point.

This gooseberry wine was fabulous - white and sharp and nice.

The day had been a typical Sunday - make a cake in the morning (Cranberry Bread - a total success) and go for a local walk in the afternoon. Happily the gang of threatening looking teenagers I encountered down an alleyway merely said "Hello" rather than mug me.

Cranberry Bread

The recipe.

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

Friday 26 February 2021

Blackcurrant Wine 2019 - Eighth Bottle (B4), 20th February 2021

This was such a good bottle of blackcurrant wine - sharp and fruity with a taste of summer. We drank much of it whilst watching Snakes on a Plane as a Snarkalong Film Club choice. The movie was predictably entirely ridiculous (and ridiculously entirely predictable). That is not to say that I didn't enjoy it however. About two thirds of the way through, Wiggy entered the room with a large and feisty mouse. She promptly dropped it and 20 hours later, it has yet to be found.

Wiggy - a couple of hours before the Mouse

Thursday 25 February 2021

Rhubarb Wine 2017 - Fifteenth Bottle (B1), 19th February 2021

Two things of note happened today: I gave a training session to the Sales Department in the morning, and I made a smoked haddock risotto in the evening. For the former, because it was outside my comfort zone, I wore my battle-armour - a nice shirt with Uncle Gerry's waistcoat. It worked, and I found myself enjoying giving the talk. For the latter, no special clothing was required and the result was delicious. I can now do Risotto! The wine went well with it: an ordinary white wine strangely not dissimilar to one made from grapes.

Some of the ingredients for the risotto

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Rose Petal Wine 2018 - Ninth Bottle (A2), 17th-18th February 2021

When Claire asked what bottle of wine was next on the list to get rid of, I chose Rose Petal - a flavour that we drink slower than we might if it were better! This bottle was actually fine and I may make Rose Petal Wine again one day.

There was nothing exciting about either day on which we drank it, save that we watched The Death of Stalin on Thursday, which had a fabulous cast and managed to be both brutal and funny. Not a light comedy, and it explored the nature of power with a satirical eye. Recommended.

Taken on 18th February - A Study in Circles.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine 2020 - First Bottle (6), 14th February 2021

Our Valentine's meal was sponsored by mint. Not only did we drink this bottle of wine, but we had gin & tonics with a mint garnish, Vietnamese Mint Chicken and Nigella's Vietnamese Salad, featuring mint. We must have had delightful breath after all of that.

The wine was excellent and I opened this vintage because Claire has been disparaging about the previous two years. It is zingy and light, and it is a shame that I have given a bottle to Liz!

Our Vietnamese Chicken was another Padian Food pack that we cooked along with Rachel & Duncan. (Who says Valentine's Day should be a romantic meal for two?) It was blistering hot but delicious - the correct level of sourness. Another lovely evening.

I also made cake - a nut meringue slice

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

Sunday 21 February 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2018 - Final Bottle (A4), 13th February 2021

What a splendid bottle of Xmas Tutti Fruti. It was rich and full of berries, and it is a shame that this was the last of its vintage. We drank it after having a Zoom Gin & Tonic (or two!) with Catherine and whilst firstly eating sausages (sausages are a wonderful thing) and secondly whilst watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Apart from the zombies, it was remarkably close to Austen's original - but I flaked out three quarters of the way through and had to go to bed.

Pinned to a park notice board.

Thursday 18 February 2021

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2021 - The Making Of...

Saturday 6th February was a dismal day. I woke to heavy rain and it did not let up throughout the lighted hours. When Claire suggested that I drive to collect the week's groceries rather than walk to Chapel Allerton, I took little persuading. Whilst I prefer to buy my parsnips from the independent Fruit Stall, carrying home 4 lbs of them together with my other shopping in a downpour would have been entirely miserable, so I drove to Sainsbury's instead.

Prunes and Parsnips

I left the wine-making until Sunday, 7th February, which was a much more productive and happy day. I managed to have a 5 mile walk, do a modicum of bassoon practice, make a 'Fly Leg' cake (no flies were harmed in the process) and make my Prune & Parsnip wine. The wine making was done whilst listening to the whole of Hansel and Gretel on Radio 3 - such a fabulous opera, and I know nothing else by Humperdinck.

Parsnips, sliced and in the pan of water

Anyway, to make the wine I sliced 4 lbs of parsnips into small bits and put them into 16 pints of cold water, bringing this up to the boil and then simmering for 20 minutes. (This was done in two lots.) Meanwhile, I snipped up 1 lb of prunes, each prune into 4 or so pieces, and put these in my bucket along with 5 lbs 8 oz sugar. When the parsnips had boiled their 20 minutes, I poured the water into the bucket through a colander and threw out the vegetables.

An enthusiastic fermentation

On Monday morning I added a teaspoon of pectolase, a teaspoon and a half of nutrient and two teaspoons of yeast (though I started the yeast first in a jug with a bit of sweetened water, because I am suspicious of this yeast brand). The wine fermented enthusiastically in its bucket until Saturday morning, 13th February, at which point I put it into its two demijohns, this time listening to Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite. The wine is far lighter, far more golden, than it has ever been before.

The wine in its demijohns

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Ninth Bottle (C1), 11th-12th February 2021

It turns out that making stew is really easy. You just put some meat and vegetables in a pot with enough water to cover and then let it cook on the hob for a couple of hours. To mark my new found skill (which was an Irish stew with dumplings) we drank half a bottle of blackberry wine, which is the correct wine for a peasant's meal. The rest was finished on Friday before Book Group, which was an entertaining discussion on Parade's End - a huge book with which I have struggled and not enjoyed.

Patterns in the Ice - taken on 11 February

Monday 15 February 2021

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2020 - First Bottle (3), 6th February 2021

This Prune & Parsnip is entirely acceptable but not quite as good as previous years. Claire describes the taste as 'more urine-y', which I suspect is not a compliment. It is thinner, more acidic and less like sherry. Maybe future bottles will be better.

The day felt wasted, though I don't know why. I wrote a letter to Ellis, played Scrabble with Mom and stocked up with groceries at Sainsbury's. The weather didn't help: nonstop rain which was oppressive and frustrating.

The view from my car window, on our drive.

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

Sunday 14 February 2021

Crab Apple Wine 2015 - Twenty-Ninth Bottle (E6), 31st January - 6 February 2021

Claire is of the opinion that this wine has deteriorated massively in quality and refused to drink any. I think that whilst it was not at its refreshing best, it was entirely fine so I drank the bottle over the course of the week, beginning with a Lockdown Dinner Party with Rachel & Duncan and finishing with an incomprehensible film version of Charlie's Angels. I suspect that my lack of comprehension was alcohol related.

Our garden on 2 February

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Orange Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (3), 31st January - 2nd February 2021

Sunday night was another virtual dinner party with Rachel & Duncan, this time to celebrate Duncan's birthday. Our Zoom screens went on at 6, we drank our aperitifs and began cooking a Malaysian Chicken Curry from Padian Foods. Early on in the process I opened this orange wine, which was butter smooth and delicious. We had an excellent evening: over three hours of cooking, eating, drinking, conversation and laughter. Once this pandemic ends we will continue these virtual sessions.

I also made biscuits that day, and this is them in progress

Thursday 4 February 2021

Gooseberry Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (1), 29th January 2021

Friday was a day of meetings and broken cafetierres. Actually only one broken cafetierre, but I bought it only two weeks ago to replace another that I broke, so total cost per cup of coffee is higher than I would like. Two of the three meetings were about me - my favourite topic of conversation. One just a legal quarterly meeting and the other to set 2021's Objectives. I opened a fine bottle of gooseberry to recover.

My collection

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2016 - Eleventh Bottle (B5), 28th-29th January 2021

Claire's verdict on this bottle was 'Better than a midweek bottle, not quite good enough for the weekend'. That is quite niche in its categorisation. My verdict is that it has the dryness of real red wine but (despite all its fruit) neither its complexity or depth. I had planned a booze-free night on Thursday but Claire returned from work irritated by bureaucracy so I was easily persuaded. Also I had a rare day of feeling low about the virus. Thursday's continuous drizzle didn't help.

Photo taken on Sunday,
Cake finished on Thursday

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Orange Wine 2016 - Final Bottle (A1), 26th-27th January 2021

Orange wine is not one that becomes steadily better with age. This was not an awful bottle but was distinctly mid-week. It had that hint of fortified wine that older bottles often acquire. On a personal level very little happened of any note on the two days that we drank this. I made a fabulous beetroot & goat's cheese risotto but that was about it. On a national level, the UK passed 100,000 deaths from Corona Virus. That is about the population of York.

A Hellebore flowering in our garden

Monday 1 February 2021

Elderberry Wine 2018 - Fifth Bottle (A4), 24th January 2021

Claire still thinks that this elderberry is a little young. I'm not certain that I agree. There is a hint of fizz, which is never that positive an attribute in red wine. 

A panorama from my walk

Sunday was a fabulous day, despite an under-par bottle of elderberry. I had a frosty 8 mile walk (bumping into Zoe), made a Victoria Sponge (I have decided that I now make cakes), played Scrabble with my mother, ate sausages, finished the bread & butter pudding, watched The Crown and had an hour's call with Paul.

Bumping into Zoe