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, 23 August 2016

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - Second Bottle (6), 14th August 2016

I overheard Claire tell Rachel "I think this is the best wine Ben has ever made". Now, I don't think I would go quite that far, but it is excellent (if one ignores the murky, floaty things at the bottom of the bottle). It is a sharp, fresh taste and the colour is a shining pink. We drank it over a lazy Sunday meal, involving pork and pommegranate molasses after a lazy Sunday afternoon in which I mowed the lawn (a mammoth task, made harder by having left it for four weeks), baked bread and made wine. So perhaps not that lazy afterall.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Blackcurrant Wine and Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Wine - The Making Of...

Blackcurrants & honeysuckle & rocket
This year has been less prolific in terms of blackcurrants than last. The fruit has also been later and I wonder if the two are connected. My (undoubtedly false) memories of last year reveal handfuls of blackcurrants being plucked from our bushes daily from July to August. This summer has required more work, with half a pound being collected once every four or five days. In total our bushes have produced 5 lbs and 7 oz and that is not enough for a double batch.

Our blackcurrant bushes

Blackcurrants & Hydrangea
Claire suggested bulking out the fruit with our gooseberries, so that is what I have done. The gooseberries have also been a little disappointing. I got excited in April, seeing how many flowers we had and how unaffected by sawfly our goosberries were. But I think in total I harvested fewer than 2 lbs. Nevermind - next year should be better.

So, what I have done is make one demijohn of pure blackcurrant wine, for which I needed 3 lbs of blackcurrants, and one demijohn of blackcurrant & gooseberry wine, which has 2 lbs blackcurrants and 1 lb gooseberries (a mix of green and red). The method has been the same in each case.
The mix of blackcurrants and gooseberries
On Sunday, 14th August, I defrosted the fruit and put each batch in a different bucket. I mashed these with a potato masher, until the fruit had become a pulpy paste. For each, I dissolved 3 lbs of sugar in 5½ pints of water. I brought this to the boil and poured it over the fruit. For the pure blackcurrant, this water was exactly right. The other could have had about a quarter of a pint more.

The fruit in each bucket before mashing
Next morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon of nutrient and pectolase to each bucket.

I should have put both wines into their demijohns on Friday night, but it was Book Group (Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - excellent). Instead, I did this on Saturday morning in between last night's washing-up and having breakfast. Making wine in one's pyjamas suggests a dissolute lifestyle.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Rose Petal Wine - Third Bottle (C6), 13th August 2016

We were treated to an evening of experimental food at Richard and Linda's on Saturday night. The crab-cakes were so delicious; sweet, tender meat fried to perfection; that we ordered Richard back into the kitchen to cook some more. This was followed by aubergine, tomato and feta grilled in slices with a potato salad. Our pudding was a summer-berry cake with hazlenut icecream (home-made). I brought a bottle of rose petal wine to the table, forgetting that this has not been Richard's favourite flavour in the past. This vintage is superior, though, and Richard claimed to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Orange Wine - Fifth Bottle (A2), 12th August 2016

This was a typical Friday night bottle, shared while listening to Radio 4, cooking and chatting in the kitchen. The meal was a 'The Sick and the Weak' special involving quinoa and bulgar wheat. We are so middle class. We managed to save the last glass each until we were sate down to eat - and as that didn't happen until 8:30, I think we deserve a pat on the back.

Orange is definitely the best of the citrus wines - to the extent that I will only make this one from now on.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Sixth Bottle (B2), 11th August 2016

Emma came round last night for a meal, mostly cooked by me. Actually, probably half cooked by me. Well, I did the beanburgers and sauce, and I boiled the potatoes. We haven't seen Emma since late June and it was a lovely evening, helped along by a bottle of Prune & Parsnip wine - which I felt was a bit sweet. There was nothing exciting about the evening, or the day that went before it (save that I was sharper than I intended to be with a young man who knocked on our door trying to raise funds for Bernardos) but it was a pleasant day, nonetheless.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Christmas Tutti Fruti - Seventh Bottle (B4), 7th August 2016

After Friday night's over-indulgence, I had planned to take some time off from the booze. 'Not quite 48 hours' is within the definition 'Some time'. It was Claire's fault. She asked me whether I wanted to open a bottle. Pressurised into it, as you can see.

I know I keep saying it, but this flavour is fabulous. Rich and fruity with more than a hint of rose. It was a fine way to end our week's holiday. And now I really will stay off the wine. Probably until Wednesday.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (A2), 5th August 2016

It seemed fitting that Julia's Memorial Wine* made an appearance on the last night of Rydal. I poured several people a taste and we raised our glasses to her. The wine was thinner than I remember but still entirely quaffable. We then had a riotous and noisy evening of quizzes, games and far too much to drink. This involved having to sing a limerick** composed by Sooz about Albert Ketelbey to the tune of Ding Dong Merrily on High. And that doesn't sound surreal at all.

* I call this wine 'Memorial Wine' because it was made from the contents of Julia's freezer, which I took after she died in 2014. I try to drink this wine with people who remember her. She always came to Rydal and was an excellent stage manager for our last night shenanigans.

**There once was a man called Ketelbey
Who went for a walk of a Fell. Be-
-fore he set out
He was crippled with doubt
About something but he wouldn't tell me.

Our friend, a nice double bassist
Was very soon on the case, est-
-ablished his doubt
Was because he'd found out
That his music was casually racist