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.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Apple Wine 2019 - Third Bottle (4), 25th March 2021

I enjoyed this bottle rather less than Claire. It was the wrong mix of thin and bitter. Claire, though, claimed to like it. I find this surprising, seeing as she is keen that we start drinking real wine more often.

The wine was opened and finished on Thursday - which was one of those Lockdown days which was indistinguishable from many others. Tuesday was different because I made a soufflé but that was possibly the most exciting thing that happened all week. Thursday was reheated leftovers and an episode of Taskmaster. Both excellent in themselves but not in the realms of 'Different'.

Taken on Wednesday on my morning walk.
I have, of course, adjusted the colour.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Rhubarb Wine 2016 - Fifteenth Bottle (A3), 21st March 2021

From recent experiences of ancient wine, I had expected this bottle to end up poured down the sink. It is therefore with unanticipated pleasure that I can report the wine was in the realms of Quite Good. There was a rhubarb taste, subtle but present, and no huge globs of sediment.

Sunday was a lazy day - I had left it empty to recover from my Covid vaccine side-effects, but as these consisted of an uncomfortable arm, I could have been more active. I baked a cake (coffee & coconut), finished my book (Out of the Shelter by David Lodge) and watched two hours of television (The Crown and  Line of Duty - a new series). Often lazy Sundays are just what I need.

Coffee & Coconut Cake

Friday 26 March 2021

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine 2020 - First Bottle (6), 20th March 2021

Claire and I had our first Covid 19 jabs on Saturday, and that makes me happy. It was a remarkably speedy and efficient process. I had expected long and slow-moving queues, and in fact it was the opposite. 24 hours later, my arm feels bruised but otherwise there are no other side effects.

In the evening we celebrated with a rather nice (if floppy) gin & tonic and then this bottle of wine. The wine is excellent, tasting of both blackcurrant and raspberry (odd, that). It is fruity and light and delicious. We also watched Return to Oz at the Snarkalong Film Club. This is a deeply disturbing and surreal children's movie, which has more scenes of electro-convulsive therapy than one might expect for a film aimed at the under-12s.

Immediately before the Jab

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

Thursday 25 March 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Fifth Bottle (B5), 19th March 2021

A Friday night bottle at the end of an irritating week. Irritating because of work not going entirely to plan, rather than anything more profound. The wine is excellent and rather too easy to drink. Much of it was drunk to a Taylor family Zoom, in which we mostly discussed Covid. Claire and I have our first vaccinations tomorrow. At last - something that the Government is doing well and efficiently.

A random photo of an ornament taken on 19 March

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Elderberry Wine 2017 - Twelfth Bottle (C5), 17th-18th March 2021

Oh, I was in a bad mood on Wednesday. All my plot sales seemed to go wrong at once. No-one wants to complete before Easter and there is little I can do about it. I don't know why I care so much, because there is no personal effect on me. Claire argues that it is good that I do - being in a job where one does not care would be soulless. She prescribed me this bottle of elderberry wine, and she is a doctor after all, so why would I refuse? Well, it was lumpier than ideal, but we are blessed with sieves.

Poetry pinned to a Park Notice Board on 17 March

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Ginger Wine 2020 - Second Bottle (2), 14th March 2021

The second Sunday in the month is now when we have a virtual dinner party with Rachel & Duncan. Our March menu was Prawn Khampel, supplied by Padian Foods. Zoom was switched on at 6 and we began cooking. Early on in the process I opened a bottle of ginger wine. The curry was superb - one of the best that we have had from Padian, and distinctly Thai. I also enjoyed the wine - a white wine with a jab of ginger and lemon, though Claire was less enthusiastic. It was a lovely evening, again - and it did not feel as if we were socially distanced by 150 miles.

A cake I made on 14th March (not a cow pat)

Sunday 21 March 2021

Blackberry Wine 2020 - First Bottle (C3), 13th-15th March 2021

On the strength of this bottle, 2020 was a good year for blackberries. This was everything that blackberry wine should be: rich, smooth, a hint of sweetness and full of bramble flavour. It was also a bottle drunk immediately after it was bottled, and this was because the string snapped a second time and wasting more than two corks seemed excessive.

Half of the bottle accompanied The Blues Brothers which (shockingly) I had never seen. Lots of fun and hyper-cool. It has not aged badly at all - with its best attribute being its sound track, but with the most ridiculous car chase running it a close second.

Taken on 15 March

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

Thursday 18 March 2021

Orange Wine 2021 - The Making Of...

One of the 'First World Problems' caused by Covid 19 is the sheer amount of queuing that it creates. Whilst one might point to the 120,000 deaths in the UK, the mental health crisis, the vast unemployment and the failure to see loved ones, it was the time spent standing in lines that annoyed me most on Saturday, 6th March. The greengrocer, the butcher and the post office all had long, slow-moving queues and by the time that I got home Claire had to calm me down with cake.

A crate of 24 oranges

Making things better, though, the greengrocer had set aside a box of 24 oranges for me - large Spanish oranges looking like they had been plucked from their tree mere hours ago. 

I started making my wine that afternoon by thinly peeling half of the oranges and covering the peel in two pints of boiling water. This is always the most tedious bit of making orange wine and this year I separated it out of the process by making it my first task, leaving the orange peel to percolate in its water for 24 hours. I did a particularly poor job of avoiding the pith and if this wine turns out too bitter, that will be the explanation. 

A particularly poor job of avoiding the pith

On Sunday afternoon, 7th March, I squeezed all 24 oranges - changing hands every three oranges so as to avoid a painful and overused shoulder. This is a sticky job and required frequent handwashing.

Some of the oranges with outer skin removed

With the oranges being larger than most years I got far more juice - 6 pints (including all the bits of flesh). I added 6¾ pints of cold water and the two pints of water that had been covering the peel. Into this I poured 5½ lbs of sugar and gave it a good stir. I then started 2 teaspoons of yeast fermenting in half a pint of water with a teaspoon of sugar and put this into the mix once fermentation had begun. I added a teaspoon of pectolase and 1½ teaspoons of nutrient. Though my usual timetable would have me putting the wine into its demijohn on Friday, it was Book Group that night (Grownups by Marian Keyes - hated by some, loved by others) so I did this all on Saturday 13th March instead. There was little to sieve out so the process was quick. I am left with two demijohns of pure sunshine.

Two demijohns of sunshine

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Rose Petal & Orange 2018 - Fourth Bottle (1), 11th March 2021

We are watching some traumatic things on television at the moment: Unorthodox about a woman escaping a closed and oppressive community, It's A Sin about the 1980s AIDS crisis, Unforgotten about a young man's murder in the 1970s and The Crown about a woman escaping a closed and oppressive community. On Thursday night it was a pleasure to watch Taskmaster and drink a bottle of Rose Petal & Orange wine. Taskmaster is necessary light relief and the wine was far better than I remembered this vintage being. There was certainly a more pronounced rose than orange taste, but it was a refreshing, light drink.

The Red Pepper didn't appreciate being an ingredient

Sunday 14 March 2021

Damson Wine 2020 - First Bottle (2), 7th March 2021

Ordinarily I would wait another five months before opening this bottle. However, I snapped the string when corking it, so we drank it as a young wine. It isn't bad at all - whilst not reaching the heady heights of Damson 2018, it was a light and fruity red that was pleasant drinking. Now that I know where there is a damson source, this could become a regular.

Sunday mostly involved making cake and wine. The cake was a date, apple & walnut Tea Loaf, and was superb. Cake making is pleasingly easy. The wine was orange, and you will be able to read about that elsewhere on this blog. I also finished Grownups by Marian Keyes - a book that I was prepared to sniff at, but which was compulsive and I was sad to have finished.

The Tea Loaf

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

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Orange Wine 2020 - First Bottle (B5), 6th March 2021

This is another successful orange wine. It is difficult to wax lyrical about it when it tastes pretty much the same as every vintage made. The wine is sharp, clear and has the expected citrus taste. I think it drier than 2019's batch, but that is neither a good nor a bad thing. We drank it mostly whilst making a spinach & bacon quiche - I was in charge of the pastry and Claire the filling. We were meant to save some for the Saturday Night Snarkalong (Cowboys and Aliens) but the bottle was empty by then. The film wasn't nearly as camp as the title suggested, and that was a disappointment. We switched it off half way through and made our way to bed.

A Hebe in our garden

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

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Fourth Bottle (B6), 2nd-3rd March 2021

Another fine bottle of Xmas Tutti Fruti - a light red that is easy to drink. The only notable thing to happen either day is that we have booked a holiday. Perhaps a foolish thing to do in these uncertain times, but I am hopeful about this one. Admittedly it is, like my last three holidays, a walking holiday in Yorkshire. But this time it is the Herriot Way - a 50 mile circular walk over four days, staying in posh hotels each night. Rachel has organised it and my inner Yorkshireman is to be suppressed. Come September I will be ready to splash out on fancy accommodation and haute cuisine. 

Some abandoned headphones
encountered on a morning walk

Sunday 7 March 2021

Rhubarb Wine 2017 - Final Bottle (C5), 28th February 2021

Sunday felt like the second day of Spring. There were blue skies all day and it could have been late April. It was a perfect day to walk 13 miles, taking in Newlay Bridge, the Leeds-Liverpool canal and Kirkstall Abbey. The population of Leeds was out, enjoying the release that good weather brings.

Once home I made a chocolate cake and we spent the evening eating fish pie and watching The Crown. A bottle of rhubarb wine figured, and during this Claire floated the idea of maybe drinking real wine more often than we do might be nice.

Kirkstall Abbey behind a carpet of crocuses.

Friday 5 March 2021

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Tenth Bottle (A2), 26th February 2021

A beer, a Negroni and a bottle of blackberry wine on a Friday night do not make a particularly joyful Saturday morning. However, they seemed like a good idea at the time. It had been a difficult couple of days at work - not bad at all; in fact more interesting than most - and drinking to excess was a way to close off the week. The wine was no more than okay - Claire described it as a disappointing red. It led to an entirely sober Saturday, which is distinctly unusual, but was needed.

Catkins - taken on my morning walk

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Prune & Parsnip 2019 - Tenth Bottle (A1), 25th February 2021

Claire and I are both working really hard at the moment. By Thursday evening our brains were still full of the day just gone and this 500 ml bottle of Prune & Parsnip seemed like the perfect amount with which to blur the edges. I cooked a family cookbook recipe - Kittery Baked Fish - which was both easy and delicious. Turns out that bacon and white fish is a winning combination and I shall definitely make this again. It being a Thursday, we watched Taskmaster which is gloriously, addictively silly and just the tonic for the day.

A new shirt

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Strawberry Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (3), 23rd February 2021

Strawberry wine, it turns out, is not one to lie down in the cellar for years before sampling. This wine was so near to undrinkable that I poured it down the sink. It is rare, indeed, that I resort to that. The taste was cloying and unpleasant and I wonder if it was corked. I opened a bottle of Ginger instead and that was far better.

After I had poured the wine away I inspected the bottle. It was badly stained from the wine and may ultimately need to be recycled.

Little of note happened on Tuesday, but that is so often the case in these days of Lockdown. Still, the news on that front is looking more promising. We may be free to return to near-normal by July!

The empty wine bottle

Monday 1 March 2021

Ginger Wine 2018 - Final Bottle (5), 23rd February 2021

Tuesdays should not be a full-bottle night, but Claire returned from work in such a foul mood that anything else would be unthinkable. After plying her with wine and cooking a quiche, all became so much more right with the world.

We finished the evening watching Lupin on Netflix - an entertaining French Crime Thriller, stylishly done. Otherwise, it was an entirely unremarkable Tuesday. Oh, this ginger wine is lovely - it has a bite to it.

Snowdrops in our garden