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.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Elderberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (B4), 22nd August 2015

There is a lamb-based theme for many bottles of elderberry wine. Last night Claire cooked a Morrocan lamb, prune & almond teggine, and I chose elderberry wine as the accompaniment. It was a good choice - both food and drink were fruity and sweet.

Earlier in the day we chose the kitchen for our new house by visiting Zoe in Guiseley. The work top will be 'Storm Brown', the units 'Stone' and the handles long and sleek. It is depressing that I can get quite excited by these things.

A Brown Storm

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Eighth Bottle (B1), 21st August 2015

I am too quiet at work, and I find that more frustrating than being too busy. When there is too much to do I zip along, get a bit snappy but feel a sense of achievement. Too quiet, and mundane tasks stretch beyond tedium. It is the August effect. But a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti makes things better, with its complex fruit flavours and slight fizz. This is one of the best batches that I have made. We drank it while watching Mad Men on DVD (Claire had confused it with Breaking Bad). It is glorious to look at, with all the 1950s period detail, and a good way to spend an hour.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Orange Wine - Fifth Bottle (B3), 19th-20th August 2015

This orange wine has a more bitter taste that previous vintages. It is entirely drinkable but is reminiscent of the harshest of thick-cut marmalades. Definitely a mid-week bottle, and at this time of year, that means drinking half of it in front of The Great British Bake Off.

Claire and I polished the bottle off on Thursday evening. My helping was a large glass after trios with Pat & Peter, where we are working on an obscure trio by Swan Hennessy, who was of Irish/French/American stock.

Swan Hennessy

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine - Second Bottle (A6), 15th August 2015

I took this bottle to a Feast at Ros's. Bob, Julia's brother, had come up from Kent and we spent much of the evening drinking far too much and talking about Julia. Her house has finally sold which means Emma will need somewhere to live. It was lovely to see Bob - there is a large amount of Piggott in him (which is unsurprising).

The wine was fruity and light and sweet and delicious, and I think most people agreed.

I disgraced myself at the end of the night by falling asleep in an armchair, waking only to apologise when the taxi arrived.

Derek Piggott - Julia and Bob's father

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Rhubarb Wine - Third Bottle (A5), 13th-16th August 2015

"Will you be opening a bottle tonight?" falls into the category of Questions Expecting the Answer 'Yes'. In fact, I hadn't specifically planned to - we had already drunk one mid-week bottle of wine - but I took little persuasion, and I do like rhubarb wine. It has a light crispness that makes it distinct.

I earned the rest of the bottle on Sunday after spending a hard weekend digging (well, call it two hours spread over two days) in the new garden. There is enough clay to open a pottery.

Me, digging

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Sixth Bottle (A6), 11th-12th August 2015

For the next nine weeks, Wednesday evenings are likely to involve sharing at least half a bottle of wine watching The Great British Bake Off with Claire. We watched the second episode tonight while drinking Prune & Parsnip wine. On the whole it made me feel hungry - partly because of the food porn, but also because I am trying to lose a bit of weight by the radical solution of eating a bit less. Over the last two weeks I put on half a stone. Prune & Parsnip wine can, in these circumstances, be seen as a dietary aid.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Blackcurrant Wine 2015 - The Making Of ...

Buying a house is an expensive way to acquire soft fruit. On that first, tense weekend when we owned 20 Bentcliffe Drive one of the few pleasures was discovering blackcurrant bushes laden with fruit. There are raspberries and strawberries too, but not in such quantity. Anyone who visited (mostly parents) was put to work and our freezer began to fill with bags of currants.

Blackcurrants and chives (the chives were not added)
Of course, we also have blackcurrant bushes at Carr Manor Mount and these ripened whilst we were away at Rydal playing symphonies and having all sorts of fun. Claire and her parents harvested these during the course of last week whilst I was in Wales. When I came home the freezer was so full of blackcurrants that we had to use a buttress to keep the door closed. (I exaggerate. A little.)

More blackcurrants on their bush

On Monday 10th August I weighed the blackcurrants. Twelve pounds. That is enough for a quadruple batch, so this is what I have done. I mistook a small bag of sloes for blackcurrants and only realised my mistake when they were in the bucket. I rescued as many as I could, but there are still some in the mix.

Blackcurrants (and a few sloes) before mashing

On Tuesday, once the fruit had defrosted and I was back from helping Rory move flats again, I mashed it with a potato masher. This was hard work, took a while and I am surprised that my hands are blister-free. I dissolved 11 lbs sugar in 22 pints of water (in three batches), boiled this and poured it over the mashed fruit. The bucket is close to full and when putting in the yeast on Wednesday evening, 12 August, I noticed the packet warned of "High Foam". Fingers crossed. I also added 2 teaspoons of pectolase and about three of nutrient.

A full-ish bucket
Though I added the yeast on Wednesday, there was no hint of fermentation until Friday afternoon, and I was beginning to think that this would be my worst wine-making disaster yet. However, everything is fine and I put it all into its demijohns on Sunday 16 August. None of the demijohns are full and the recipe (if not the bucket) would have benefitted from another 2 pints of water.

Fermenting blackcurrants