Greetings

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, 23 June 2017

Fig Wine - Final Bottle (4), 17th June 2017

Disaster! There will be no Fig Wine this year. More accurately, there will be no fig wine made this year, which means the dearth will hit in the 2018-19 season. Mom and Pop came over bearing these bad tidings, but we opened this bottle anyway - reinforcing the idea that any spare figs should come my way. Their tree has not produced the goods for a September crop.

We savoured this wine with a Middle Eastern feast involving chick peas, tomatoes, lots of garlic and a spinach and feta pie. It was a perfect Saturday - much of it spend outside basking in the June warmth, everyone enjoying each other's company. An excellent day, despite the news about the figs.

I think the fig disaster is second from the left, third row down.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (C5), 17th June 2017

Saturday was one of those rare British summer days that is pleasantly hot with no hint of mugginess, where it is a delight to spend all parts of the day outside. My parents were visiting and a bottle of rose petal wine in the garden was ideal. The wine's colour is now golden rather than pink, but it glowed in the late afternoon sunlight and it was no chore to finish the bottle before we ate. I had wondered if we should 'do something' to entertain the parents, but sitting in the warmth, chatting about this and that was just ideal. I am so lucky to have the family that I do.

Our pond is not the size this photo suggests

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Apple Wine - Final Bottle (4), 11th-13th June 2017

"Not Entirely Nasty". I had expected this to be awful - the last bottle of apple wine ended up down the sink. Therefore, when it turned out to be drinkable I was pleasantly surprised. 'Apple' was not a detectable flavour - the wine was more 'cheap white' than anything.

We opened the bottle on Sunday night, when we really should not have (already being a bottle down) and finished it on Tuesday. I spent Tuesday evening baking peanut butter cookies to take into work for my birthday. It is a strange tradition that the one celebrating his birthday should be the one who provides the biscuits.


And here is my recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies:

8oz butter (or margarine)
8 oz brown sugar
8 oz white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
8 oz peanut butter
16 oz plain white flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to about 200/ gas mark 6

Mix butter, sugar (both sorts), eggs and vanilla together (my recipe says ‘cream these’ but I’m not sure how that differs from mixing).

Mix in peanut butter

Add flour, bicarb and salt and mix in.

Roll small dollops of mix (about a teaspoon) into balls (smaller than a conker, larger than a marble), put on ungreased baking tray and press down with a fork (make a criss cross pattern). Don’t put the unbaked biscuits too close to each other, because they will expand in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes

This recipe will make tons of biscuits - over 60 probably.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Mint, Elderflower & Rhubarb Wine - The Making Of...

I have had possibly the most middle class, middle-aged weekend one could ever imagine. What is more, I have absolutely loved it. On Saturday night I went to a string quartet party and ate Italian cheese brought by a guest who is renovating a villa near Padua. On Sunday afternoon, Claire and I wandered around 17 gardens as part of Chapel Allerton's Open Garden Festival, and then sat in a bar to drink craft beer. I feel I have reached the zenith of the bourgeoisie. And making Mint, Elderflower & Rhubarb Wine hardly struggles against that particular mold.

The Base Ingredients

Our rhubarb is past its best, so I picked the majority of my 3 lbs the previous weekend, sliced it thinly and put it in the freezer. The defrosted rhubarb gave an air of limpness and exhaustion in its bowl.
The Elderflower tree I picked from

I went foraging for elderflowers on Sunday morning, 11th June and picked far more than I needed in half an hour (most of which was taken up with travelling to and from the source). I stripped the flowers from their stalks in the garden, achieving a discoloured thumbnail in the process. Doing this outside meant that the insects I had collected had an opportunity to escape and our windows would not be covered by tiny flies. I stopped stripping once I had a pint of flowers (this took about an hour) and I will compost the rest.

Elderflowers that went into the wine

For the mint, I gathered both spear and peppermint from our garden - a slightly larger handful than the two previous years, and sliced this up.

Spearmint from our garden

All the ingredients went into my bucket and I poured in six and a half pints of boiling water, releasing a heavy scent of both elderflower and mint into the kitchen. I then added 3 lbs of sugar. The yeast and a teaspoon each of pectolase, nutrient and tannin went in on Monday morning, 12th June, before I walked my six miles to work.

The ingredients in my bucket

I put the liquid into its demijohn on Friday evening. As I was pouring the last of the wine from the bucket into the jug, I heard a clunk of something solid hitting the jug. It was the half-ounce weight - made from brass. I had used this when weighing rhubarb and forgotten to remove it. It is now noticeably shinier than the other weights in its set and I fear that I have ruined the wine. If it has a metallic taste, this will be why.

Less pink than pure rhubarb

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Blackberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (A4), 11th June 2017

What a wonderful vintage of Blackberry Wine. It is light, the correct level of sweetness and is absolute in its brambleness. I opened this bottle just as I was to give Liz a demonstration in how to rack a demijohn, so generously allowed her to have a glass (when, in fact, I wanted it all for myself).

It was a good bottle with which to end the weekend. Claire and I had spent the day nosing around other people's gardens in Chapel Allerton for an 'Open Garden' event. There were some excellent gardens to be seen ranging from formal and tidy to overgrown and being reclaimed by nature. Claire came away with pond envy (everyone's is so much clearer) and we finished the afternoon drinking beer in the Further North Bar.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Orange Wine - Fourth Bottle (A4), 9th June 2017

Well, that General Election result was rather better than feared. I had imagined that Labour would be wiped out, that the NHS would become increasingly privatised, that Austerity would only become harsher and that Food Banks would multiply (incidentally, when did they become a thing?). But with the Tories only barely winning and there being a strong and rejuvenated Opposition, surely there must be more compromise, more attention to the needs of the many?

I suggested to Claire that we open champagne, but she thinks that is overdoing things - Labour still lost. Instead we had a bottle of (rather good) orange wine and ate bananas covered in melted chocolate and custard.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Ya Ya Pear Wine - Second Bottle (3), 7th-8th June 2017

I read today on the BBC website that being under the influence of alcohol does not preclude one from voting. I resolved to have at least a glass of Ya Ya Pear wine before attending my polling station, on the basis that the result will be depressing. Thus fortified, I did my civic duty and put a cross next to the Labour candidate. For the first time even when voting, there was a queue - and I find this encouraging.

Claire and I finished the wine on my return. It really isn't very good, though has improved from yesterday. Keeping it in the fridge must have helped. Claire says it tastes of Organic Chemistry lessons. I never had those. There is a hint of pear drops and something manufactured in its flavour.



NB - Mostly I write my diary entries a day or two after I have had the bottle of wine (and translate them into blog posts several days after that). This one, I didn't want to be prejudiced by the General Election result, so made sure I wrote it on the day. My next blog post will reveal how I felt about how things turned out.