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, 24 July 2014

Julia's Wine - Gooseberry (?) of Unknown Vintage, 19th July 2014

This bottle had neither flavour nor year marked upon it. I checked that it was still liquid and took it with us to Christian and Katie's in Hebden Bridge. They have a wonderful house, looking north over the town and to a hill with dry stone-walled fields and a Victorian mill. If it wasn't for the commute, I would move to Hebden Bridge in an instant.

We drank a toast to Julia, and the wine was really very good. I think it was gooseberry - it had a similar taste to the first of her's that we opened. Sherry-like. This was my second glass of the evening, at which point I staggered off to play in a concert. It was the sort of concert where a pissed bassoonist could only help.

Hebden Bridge Centre

Monday, 21 July 2014

Blackberry Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (C3), 15th July 2014

Perhaps drinking an entire bottle on a Tuesday night is not the best of ideas. But this wine was so good that it was difficult to stop. I can't remember as tasty a blackberry. Claire initially said that I shouldn't open a bottle, but then had a dreadful viola practice so changed her mind. We will both be glad once Friday is over and the Grade 8 becomes a memory.

We drank some of the wine in the garden while Claire planted out what remains of the sad looking tomatoes. I finished my ration while watching a very silly film about killer sheep in New Zealand.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Rhubarb Wine - Third Bottle (B3), 13th July 2014

I do like Rhubarb Wine. It is possibly my favourite white - unless gooseberry goes right (which it very often does not). There is an open, delicate taste to it - and combined with a slight fizz, this makes it a winner.

I made a quiche to go with the wine while Claire was at her final viola lesson before the Grade 8 exam, and - not wishing to blow my own trumpet - I am very good at pastry.

The day as a whole has been one of those lazy Sundays where little is done, but it is all satisfying.

This was not the quiche I made, but has a similar look

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Blackcurrant and Raspberry Wine (mostly) - The Making Of ...

The cats woke me up irritatingly early this morning, Sunday 6th July. Stanley wanted food, and on his second time of asking, forty minutes before the alarm was due to go off, I carried him downstairs and shut him in the front room. Then Aggie started making a fuss. I swore heartily at her but Claire woke and pointed out there was something wrong. Aggie was dragging her leg, but with no noticeable injury. We wonder if she has had a stroke - she is at least 17 - and we will monitor her over the next few days. Now it comes down to it, I realise I am quite fond of Aggie, despite her being the worse of cats.
Anyway, one of my tasks this morning was to clear Julia's freezer of fruit. She had helpfully organised it so that fruit was at the top, vegetables in the middle and meat on the bottom shelf. Except beetroot seemed to be classified as 'fruit'. I checked with Claire to make sure they weren't plums. In total I came away with 4 lbs 2 oz of blackcurrants, 1 lb 2oz raspberries, 12 ½ oz of a blackberry and apple mix and a bag of redcurrants, which Claire is turning into jelly but allowing me ½ oz for the wine.

We then went to Julia's allotment to return her key - another significant moment in saying 'farewell' - and I took a small handfull of whitecurrants (¼ oz) to add to the mix. I calculate that this comes to 6 lbs 1¼ oz fruit - which is enough for a double batch.

The fruit had defrosted by Sunday evening, so I crushed it in its bucket, added 6lbs of sugar and 12 pints of boiling water. The next morning I added the yeast, two teaspoons of nutrient and one of pectolase.

On Saturday morning, 12th July, the wine went into its two demijohns. Ordinarily I would have done this a day or two earlier, but my evenings have been taken up with a less-dreadful-than-expected concert and Book Group. The wine is still bubbling away, though, and is very dark pink in colour, with what looks like a massive sediment forming. Aggie appears to have recovered, so my thoughts of a final visit to the vets were premature.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Orange Wine - Fifth Bottle (A4), 10th-12th July 2014

I only had one glass from this bottle, but on the strength of that I think this is one of the best orange wines that I have made. It is less brutal in its citric flavour than some batches have been.

I grabbed the glass with relief on return from my concert at a beer festival with The Yorkshire Icon Orchestra. There was a fair sized audience (including a colleague that lives nearby who I had purposively not informed about this) and I am pleased that they all had plenty of beer.

Audience gathering at Pontefract Castle

The bottle was finished by Claire on Saturday while I was at the Pontefract Proms concert with WYSO. This was a much happier experience and we had an audience of 1,300. I had a microphone dangling down the funnel of my bassoon, which meant my wrong notes were heard by over a thousand.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Blackcurrant & Red Gooseberry Wine - Final Bottle (6), 6th July 2014

I have found a new source of blackcurrants. Lindsay has a bush in her garden, and her neighbour has what appears to be a blackcurrant plantation. I was encouraged to come round and pick fruit, so took this final bottle of Blackcurrant & Gooseberry with me to aid the process.

I was merrily picking blackcurrants when I heard a shriek from the kitchen. The bottle had obviously exploded. Dylan, Lindsay's 7-year-old, told me not to worry as "Mum is always shrieking". Lindsay poured four glasses of wine - we were joined by Anthony and the neighbour (also called Claire) and all agreed how good it was. Claire (as in my wife) didn't have any because we had then to drive to Julia's to feed Soots. Knowing that blackcurrant is her favourite flavour, I fully appreciate the sacrifice that she made.

Lindsay, Dylan and Claire picking blackcurrants

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Strawberry Wine 2014 - The Making Of ...

I have been watching the weather forecast carefully this week, knowing that Sunday morning, 6th July, was really my only opportunity to pick strawberries. Saturday would have been useless. All roads to Wharfedale Grange Farm were closed because of the Tour de France. And next weekend is both busy and on the verge of being too late.
Wharfedale Grange's wares
All week the forecast has been predicting heavy downpours. Even this morning the woman on the radio talked darkly of showers in Yorkshire. It has been sunny all day, and I got to wear my Hat while picking.
Sunny all day and me in my Hat (after picking)
The Pick Your Own was relatively quiet, and they had strawberries in abundance. I had no trouble at all in picking a basket full of lucious fruit. This was hunter-gathering at its easiest. I needed 4 lbs of fruit and I came away with nearly five. One pound is in the freezer awaiting 'Strawberry and Crab Apple', so I have just less than 4 lbs strawberries in this wine. I have also added ten or so tiny wild strawberries from our garden.

While boiling four pints of water, I mashed the strawberries and added 3 lbs sugar. The boiling water went in and the bucket then sat for 24 hours.

Strawberries before mashing (obviously)
Strawberry wine's most tedious stage came next. On Monday evening I sieved the liquid into a demijohn, putting the pulp in a pan. I covered the pulp with two pints of cold water and let it sit for around half an hour. I then drained this into the (cleaned and sterilised) bucket, throwing out the pulp, and poured the liquid in the demijohn into the bucket. This all took far too long. I added the yeast (which is champagne variety because I have run out of everything else) and a teaspoon each of tannin, pectolase and nutrient.

On Thursday evening, immediately after work and before the Yorkshire Icon Orchestra concert (which I was dreading) I put the wine into its demijohn. This was a rapid job, and the colour is as red as I have seen it.