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.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - The Making Of...

An Inca Berry (or Physallis) (or Cape Gooseberry)
Back in April last year, at the Extended Family Do, I was complaining that it was difficult to find a fruit that began with the letter 'I' for my wine alphabet. Adam, being a modern-day technologically connected teenager, pulled out his phone, did a quick search and discovered both Inca Berries and a place that sold their seeds. Now, I know this fruit as 'Physallis' and others call it 'Cape Gooseberry'. However, that the seed packet said 'Inca Berry' is good enough for me to tick the letter 'I', leaving only 'J' and 'Z' to go.

Inca Berry seedlings - taken to Cornwall

We planted the seeds in mid-April, sending a pack to St Albans for Lou and Adam to fail to grow, and took the seedlings with us to Cornwall for a week's holiday in May.

Inca Berry Plants in Summer
By July the plants were putting out flowers - an attractive yellow and brown mix, and by September these had turned into green lanterns surrounding the nascent fruit. This is really where it started to go wrong. Our summer was not hot enough and the autumn not dry enough for the lanterns to turn brown, crack open and reveal a small yellow globe. Some did, but on the whole the lanterns and their fruit inside stayed resolutely green.
Over time Claire and I harvested what we could - even bringing three of the plants inside (this helped) and this weekend, 15th January, I harvested everything that had not gone rotten. Overall, this produced only 1 lb 8 oz of fruit in various stages of ripeness. This is not enough for a batch of wine, but I couldn't waste what had grown, so I have made do with 'Inca Berry and Raisin Wine'.

I mashed the Inca Berries in my bucket (and they made a satisfying 'pop' as I crushed them) and added 1 lb 8 oz of minced raisins. Raisins have their own sweetness, so I added 2 lbs 8 oz sugar (which is half a pound less than I usually add to a wine) and poured in six and a half pints of boiling water. The Inca Berries are perfumed, which gives me hope that this won't be the blandest wine ever made (I think Ya Ya Pear may get that particular prize).

I left the mixture over night and added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin on Monday 16th January. I had earmarked Friday to put the wine into its demijohn, but by the time I returned from practising bassoon pieces with David on the piano, Claire had started a fire, downloaded an episode of QI and opened a bottle of wine, so I left it until this morning, 21st January.

The wine is exceptionally brown, and Claire says it suggests a bad attack of cholera. Yum!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint - Fourth Bottle (1), 14th January 2017

A few months ago I went for a boozy lunch with Rodney and we got to discussing my home-made wine. I heard myself telling him that he and Helen would have to come over sometime and Claire would cook a delicious meal. Claire took this news better than many wives might have, and last night Rodney & Helen came over for the said delicious meal.

My first bottle (of, a now regrettable, four) opened was Rhubarb, Elderflower and Mint, and was Helen's favourite of the night. No-one picked up the mint flavour, but 'refreshing' was a word used to describe it. 'Lovely' was another one. All rather gratifying.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ginger Wine - First Bottle (6), 13th January 2017

This ginger wine is far better than my previous batch. It is dry, there is an undertone of lemon and the ginger comes through splendidly. It doesn't even need a splash of whisky to make it pleasant. Maybe it is a bottle to share between four rather than two, because the taste is so gingery, but Claire and I managed just fine to finish it over the course of an evening. In fact, we finished it before we ate - but we did eat closer to nine than eight, so I don't think that is scandalous. It was a lovely, quiet evening to round off a week with its fair share of tensions.

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

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Elderberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (A1), 8th January 2017

When having steak - rare to medium rare, naturally - only a red wine will do. And amongst my reds, it is really only elderberry that makes the cut. Elderberry is a substantial, full-bodied red which complements the meat. It is fruity without being sweet.

The steak came from a tree-surgeon, which is a bit random.

We spent the day doing very little - still recovering from the Christmas socialising. This is our first and last quiet weekend in January. I am gearing up for another whirl of entertainment.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Seventh Bottle (D1), 6th-7th January 2017

Book Group was at ours this month and our 'Winter Classic' was The Picture of Dorian Gray. I read this in my early-twenties and remember enjoying it. Perhaps it is a young man's book. This time round I found it tedious, over-written and far too arch for its own good. Mostly Book Group declared it a 'Miss', with only Claire being very positive about it.

I opened a bottle of blackcurrant for the occasion along with some real wine. Our brand new member, Jenny 2, had a couple of glasses though I made it clear she need not for politeness' sake. I hope she will be back.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Ninth Bottle (C4), 2nd January 2016

We are officially still on holiday and it is not yet a work night. Claire has taken the whole week off and because I worked on Friday while everyone else was out of the office, I get Tuesday in lieu. This is reason enough to have a bottle of crab apple wine. Claire directed me to choose a bottle that was neither fabulous or awful, and crab apple fits that bill nicely. We drank it in front of the stove, recovering from what has been a sociable several days. But now we are Home.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Elderberry Wine - Second Bottle (B5), 1st January 2017

This is a fine vintage of elderberry wine. It is slightly sweeter than 2014's batch but maintains the complex elderberry taste. I shared it between Claire, Duncan, Rachel, Ruth and me in Cambridge - though it was not quite the first bottle of 2017 (that was a bottle of something sparkly). We had spent the day getting wet in Bury St Edmunds and settled down to watch the first in a new series of Sherlock. I was sufficiently sober (just) to follow the plot, and it was a grand way to begin 2017.

Bury St Edmunds in the rain