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 October 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Thirteenth Bottle (C6), 22nd October 2021

Christmas Tutti Fruti, when done well, is one of my best wines. It has depth and is just a delight to drink. That this was my first booze for five days may have helped. It was a gentle Friday night after a busy and productive week, and one where reheated macaroni and Taskmaster were exactly what was needed.

A rainbow on my way home from work.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Apple Wine 2018 - Final Bottle (5), 3rd October 2021

I made a pie! A pork & apple pie with cider gravy. It was really rather excellent, and obviously a bottle of apple wine was the natural one to choose. The wine was delicious too - light, fruity with a distinct apple taste and it is probably the best apple wine that I have made.

My day was spent entirely indoors, unless one counts the excursion into the garden to pick sage and two bay leaves, and most of that was spent in the kitchen. As well as the pie, I made ginger biscuits and bread. I learnt that I should bake ginger biscuits for rather less than 15 minutes and that it is unwise to keep pastry in the fridge for three hours.

The result of me sneezing (startling a cat)

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Twelfth Bottle (C3), 30th September - 2nd October 2021

Have I mentioned that this Xmas Tutti Fruti is excellent? Claire opened it on Thursday whilst I finished a bottle of Dandelion Wine, and I had most of the remainder whilst Claire was in Menston rehearsing with the Wharfedale Chamber Ensemble. There is little of note to report for either day and this entry will definitely not make it into my blog for being as dull as it is. But have I said that I think this wine excellent?

Modelling my Great Uncle Jerry's coat from 1936

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Eleventh Bottle (C4), 12th September 2021

This bottle marked the end of a week's holiday. We had spent most of the week in Wensleydale and Swaledale walking the Herriot Way in glorious sunshine. If anything, it had been too hot. Sunday, though, was a quiet day in which I failed to pick any elderberries. In the evening I was feeling strangely anxious about work. Monday was to be my first day back in the office after 18 months of home-working. Change never sits well with me. The wine was delicious, which helped.

No photos taken on 12 September, but here is one from the Herriot Way

Monday 25 October 2021

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2019 - Tenth Bottle (B2), 30th July 2021

We are on holiday. And this time the holiday will involve going away from home! After the disaster that was 2020, Rydal is back on. Whether sitting in a confined space blowing down my bassoon with 40 friends surrounding me is entirely sensible remains to be seen, but I cannot express my joy sufficiently. Friday, though, was exceptionally busy at work and a bottle of wine afterwards was a given. I didn't really pay much attention to this flavour - I was more interested in the effect. The day's edges became suitably blurred.

Taken on 30th July. I like the idea of a shop where
those plotting evil deeds buy their food and drink.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Apple & Strawberry Wine 2019 - Second Bottle (2), 11th August 2021

This apple and strawberry was far better than I had remembered. Whilst it tasted neither of apple nor strawberry, there was a faint scent of the latter if you gave it a good sniff. If anything, it was like a real white wine.

This was the last bottle of my wine drunk in the Brecon Beacons, and earlier in the day Rachael, Myles and I had been to the Cantref Adventure Farm, which Myles absolutely loved. One of the most joyous things about the week in Wales was being an uncle, doing fun things with Myles that he is likely to  remember into adulthood.

My lovely sister, Rachael

Friday 22 October 2021

Elderberry Wine 2019 - First Bottle (B3), 4th September 2021

I left this vintage two years before opening the first bottle. As a consequence I have avoided a disappointing thin and metallic elderberry wine. This bottle was a fine elderberry: rich and dark, with a hint of real wine.

Duncan and Rachel are here: our first overnight visitors since the Before Times, and our house is tidy! We had a lovely evening which started with negronis and ended with bush tea. Then tomorrow we go to Aysgarth to begin a 52 mile walk round the Herriot Way. Wish us luck!

Taken on 5th September - at Aysgarth Church

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

Thursday 21 October 2021

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Fifteenth Bottle (B3), 30th August 2021

Blackberry wine was the natural choice of wine after a day spent picking brambles for 2021's batch. The wine was delicious and bursting with bramble flavour. Rather better than the vegetarian moussaka I made to accompany it, which, despite its vegetarian credentials, would have benefitted greatly from a chicken stock cube. The rest of the evening was spent watching The Crown and then reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which is witty and beautifully written. One of those books that manages to be engaging despite a paper-thin plot.

A grave from which I picked brambles

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Blackberry Wine 2019 - Fourteenth Bottle (A5), 6th August 2021

I was disappointed with this blackberry - there was something earthy in its flavour and it was not sufficiently sweet. Of the three bottles that I took to Rydal I had expected this to be the best and it clearly was not. I was glad to have it, however: the bar was shut and a sober last night would have been more than unfortunate.

Friday had my musical highlight of the week - playing the Poulenc Trio with Matt and Jane. We worked at the middle movement and we sounded glorious. That is near literally blowing my own trumpet.

Nick on a damp walk near Rydal Hall

Monday 18 October 2021

Elderflower, Mint & Rhubarb Wine 2019 - Fifth Bottle (3), 4th August 2021

Despite Covid 19, we made it to Rydal this year, and I cannot express what a joyous week it has been. Playing again in an orchestra that I love and with my favourite group of people has just been wonderful. 

This wine was the first of three opened during the Rydal week, after a day of walking in brilliant sunshine with Claire and Judith - so there was an element of it feeling earned. Nick claimed he was allergic to mint so didn't have any, and Kirsty pulled a face, but otherwise this bottle was enjoyed.

Claire and Judith on a long, hot walk.

Friday 15 October 2021

Magnolia Petal Wine 2019 - Third Bottle (5), 9th August 2021

I took this bottle with me to the family holiday in Wales because Claire thinks it is horrid and she is remaining in Leeds. Mom, Pop and Rachael all disagreed. They were enthusiastic in helping me finish the bottle. This was towards the end of a lovely day, which began with Pop and me going on a five and a half mile walk and ascending Bryn Teg. I had planned to go further but Pop had not brought walking boots and climbing hills with an octogenarian in sandals would have been a disaster. Still, it would have hastened the inheritance.

Spending this much time with my father was a delight. The Alzheimer's is taking its grip, but he is still very much Pop and says that on the whole he is happy. And that is the important thing.

Pop and me at the summit of Bryn Teg.

Elderberry Wine 2018 - Seventh Bottle (A5), 8th August 2021

Some of this elderberry wine ended up in an onion gravy. Ordinarily I would use Madeira but I was staying in a holiday cottage in Wales and whilst it was equipped with a hot tub, there was no Madeira to be had for love nor money. Elderberry wine, though, made an excellent substitute.

The cottage was in the Brecon Beacons where I spent six days with Rachael and Myles with Mom and Pop there for the first three. My drive over had been hellish - so the elderberry wine was more than welcome. The setting is lovely: mountains on one side and a wide vale on the other. It was the beginning of a terrific holiday.

Stuck on the M62 - part of the hellish journey

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Rhubarb Wine 2018 - Thirteenth Bottle (A2), 18th-24th August 2021

This was very much a mid-week bottle that lasted several days in the fridge. It was okay and served its purpose, but was not a memorable or delicious wine. Medical procedures have figured rather in the timeframe. I won't go into the first one, but everything was fine. On the day the bottle was finished, I went to a new dentist with a toothache. Disaster! Either I shall have to have it pulled or I will have to have a two hour root canal operation followed by a crown. Neither is joyful!

Taken on 24 August to celebrate International Bow-Tie Day

Monday 11 October 2021

Elderberry Wine 2016 - Final Bottle (B4), 26th September 2021

This wine accompanied a roast dinner, where nut roast was the star. Then we had Golden Raspberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake, which was truly fabulous. The wine was a little disappointing in comparison: okay without being special, despite its age. Many Taylors were here and it was a delightful weekend. Unlike the previous two times that we have seen Bob, there was no requirement for an ambulance!

The Cheesecake - an overview

Sunday 10 October 2021

Rose Petal 2014 - Final Bottle (B2), 10th September 2021

I opened this bottle, anticipating that I would have to pour it down the sink. Not a bit of it: the wine had matured nicely, whilst keeping its rose flavour. It had not developed that off-sherry taste that most of my wines acquire on age.

This bottle was drunk in celebration of having completed The Herriot Way, a 52-mile walk in the Dales over the previous 4 days with Rachel & Duncan. It had been a wonderful holiday and the wine was chosen specially for Rachel.

Duncan, Claire and Rachel - at the very end of 52 miles.

Saturday 9 October 2021

Dandelion Wine 2013 - Final Bottle (5), 25th-30th September 2021

NB For the next several entries, I am going to dispense with Date Order, and post them in the order in which they appear in my written diary. This means such narrative that there is (which is very little!) will be somewhat disrupted.


I saved this final bottle of Dandelion Wine for a special occasion where I could share it with guests, on the basis that with 8 years aging it was likely to be spectacular. Bob, Judith and Susanna were here - only the second time that we have had guests to stay since Covid 19 hit. The wine, however, only served to disappoint. Yes, it was drinkable and had an element of sherry to it. But it was not the rich delicious nectar-like substance that I had anticipated. If anything, it was slightly rank.

No-one had a second glass, even though they stayed another two days. I drank it over the course of the week. The final glass was brown and murky.

Wiggy on 25 September, claiming her space

Sunday 3 October 2021

Elderberry Wine 2017 - Thirteenth Bottle (C1), 24th July 2021

It is not many bottles of wine that result in five people dancing to a mix of Abba and Tchaikovsky in the garden after dark. This was one such bottle. Actually, it was one of many that evening, but it was a glorious night. This was the first weekend since the Covid restrictions had been lifted and we spent it in Cambridge with Rachel & Duncan (Howard was our fifth). 

Earlier in the day we had helped out at a Food Hub, which was itself an interesting and enjoyable thing to do, but it is the evening that will stay with me. One of those magical times where my own universe is full of joy. The wine wasn't bad either.

Rachel at the Food Hub

Gooseberry Wine 2021 - The Making Of...

For years we have been saying that our freezer is too small for all the excess fruit that I pick, and that we must investigate getting a small freezer just for wine making. Claire and I are great procrastinators. If you require further evidence, you only need to go into our front room. We have owned the house for six years now and have yet to paint the plaster.

Some of our gooseberries, close up.

Anyway, on Sunday 10th July I went on-line to investigate mini-freezers and about ten minutes later had ordered one. It arrived on Monday. Why I took about four years or so over this, I do not know. Mostly it will be filled with gooseberries this year. Our bushes are rampant. We have at least three varieties and all have had a good summer.

Gooseberries being washed

On Sunday 11th July I went out to harvest 6 lbs for this wine. Those in the back garden are not as far on as those in the front, but I still picked a few from each bush, getting lightly scratched in the process. Why are gooseberry plants quite so defensive of their fruit?

More gooseberries!

In the end, I picked 2 oz less than the 6 lbs required, but that was Good Enough. I put them in our largest cooking pot with 3 pints of water, brought them to the boil and let them simmer for 5 minutes. The whole lot went into my bucket with 2 lbs 14 oz sugar and a further two pints of cold water. I added a teaspoon each of yeast, nutrient, pectolase and tannin just before going to bed and by Monday morning it was all fermenting nicely

Gooseberry wine fermenting

The wine got one stir each day and I planned to put it in its demijohn on Friday evening. However, by then I had worked until 6:15 and was in a thoroughly bad mood, so I left it until this morning, 17th July.

Gooseberry does take a long time to put into its demijohn, though I had Radio 3's Record Review to keep me company. The wine is going to produce a huge sediment.

The first demijohn of Gooseberry Wine

It did - massive! I racked this on 20th August and I fit in most of 2 pints of water with 4 oz sugar dissolved.

I am making a second batch, this time crushing the berries rather than boiling them and 5 pints of boiling water. I started on Sunday 23rd August and racked it on 25th September. The sediment on this one was slightly smaller, but I put in 36 fluid ounces of water with 2 oz sugar dissolved.

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2016 - Final Bottle (B4), 16th July 2021

I had remembered this bottle as one of my weaker vintages of Christmas Tutti Fruti, but this final bottle was excellent. There was a complex fruity taste that Claire thought reminiscent of real wine. I was in too bad a mood to notice at the beginning and by the time my mood had improved sufficiently I forgot to notice. It is a shame that there is not another bottle left so that I could pay attention.

(Typing this up two and a half months later, I have no memory of why I was in a bad mood!)

A photo taken on 16 July, no idea where!

Orange Wine 2018 - Eleventh Bottle (A3), 22nd July 2021

Mostly I made quiche whilst this wine was in play. England is having a heatwave at the moment - so a perfect time to be baking. We are off to Cambridge on Friday evening and need an easy meal during the journey - hence the quiche. A glass or two of orange wine to help the process along is never a bad thing, particularly when the pastry starts falling apart. Orange wine, though, is not one to write reams about: it is a reliable white that has a citrus kick. Finishing the bottle was no hardship.

Oh - I did my first ever Lateral Flow test.

My quiche and lateral flow test

Cherry Wine 2018 - Fifth Bottle (1), 19th July 2021

As Sunday was an entirely sober evening, we were justified in opening and finishing a bottle on Monday. Also, it was Pop's 80th birthday so that was cause for celebration. We had spent the weekend in York, which was more convenient than being there on the Big Day itself.

The cherry wine was far better than I had expected. Claire used 'medicinal' to describe it, but not in a bad way. There was something rich and deep about its taste and maybe Cherry is one that matures well.

Pop, and the cake that I made him.