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.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Fourth Bottle (A1), 11th-12th May 2017

Another week. Another WYSO. Another bad mood. This time it is Berlioz's March to the Scaffold that I can't play. Drastic measures are called for. I may have to do some bassoon practice.

Other reasons why I might be a little grumpy? I am now 'Priority Level 3' for PlusNet failing to connect us to broadband. It only goes up to 4 and I have no idea what happens then.

Claire also needed wine - she has taken the plunge and applied for a new job - one which does not rely on grant applications and uncertainty. Prune & Parsnip fitted the mid-week mood-improving need quite nicely, with its medium-dry sherry flavour and overall alcoholic content.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Rhubarb Wine 2017 - The Making Of...

The end result
King's Cross Station, after midnight, is a magical place. It is a huge domed space, empty of people save for a few late night revellers returning home. Last Saturday night I was one of those - reliving my youth after a 'Quarter of a Century Since Graduating from Warwick' reunion. Being in the station with Caroline, Susan and Stuart was only a short moment, but my favourite of the weekend.

Four people in their late 40s pretending to be 22 again

On Sunday 14th May I came home to find nearly 7 lbs rhubarb waiting for me to make into wine. Nick had dropped this off from his allotment on Saturday and in return was rewarded with two bottles of last year's rhubarb wine. This strikes me as a good deal which makes everyone happy. I made the rhubarb up to 9 lbs from our garden, which is the right quantity for a triple batch.

Some of our rhubarb - with flowers (which one is meant to avoid)

All the rhubarb was washed and cut up into slices - none more than an inch and most considerably less than that. I put the sliced rhubarb into my bucket and poured 20 pints of boiling water over it, releasing a wonderful scent of stewed rhubarb. My recipe requires 9 lbs of sugar for a triple batch, but I only had half of that. It being a Sunday evening after an exhausting weekend, I couldn't be arsed to go round to medium-sized Sainsburys to get more, so I put in what I had and made the rest up on Monday. I can't imagine this two-staged approach will affect the wine.

On Monday morning before work (and so before the second application of sugar) I added the yeast and a teaspoon-and-a-half each of nutrient and pectolase. By Tuesday this was frothing nicely.

Rhubarb frothing nicely (plus my foot)

I put all the liquid into my three demijohns on Friday night, 19th May. As with most wines, I removed the bulk of the fruit with a collander and then proceeded with the sieve-jug-funnel method, leaving a gap at the top of each demijohn to avoid explosions and filling a bottle with some wine for later topping-up purposes. By the time I had finished this it was eight o'clock and Claire & I were both hungry. We left the wine, pale pink and bubbling, and had a fabulous Turkish meal at 'The Olive Branch'.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (A5), 7th May 2017

I can think of nothing interesting to say about this wine. We drank it. It was fine.

Currently I am totally wound up about Plusnet - who are meant to be providing us with a new, improved broadband. We dispensed with TalkTalk and (despite ordering Plusnet on 6 April) have been without internet for a fortnight. And it makes me so tense and cross. When I ring them they sound reasonable and apologetic and tell me everything will be working soon. But it bloody isn't and my heart races when I think about it.

*By way of update, we have finally been connected (on 17 May)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Orange Wine - Third Bottle (A6), 6th May 2017

After the slight disappointment of the last two bottles, this orange wine came as a relief. It was sweeter, less bitter and an all-round good bottle. We drank it on the Saturday night after our week's holiday in the North Pennines, and I had been considering not having anything alcoholic to drink. But as soon as Claire suggested that I open something, I crumbled.

The wine was drunk while I was finishing the longest book I have ever read: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - a twelfth-century based saga full of plot and cathedral-building. Badly written, but I loved it.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Eleventh Bottle (C3), 4th May 2017

I always take Rose Petal Wine with me when going on holiday with Rachel & Duncan. It has been a tradition to drink it outside during evening sunshine and pretend it is warm and pleasant. This year I opened it on our last night after a 9-ish mile walk at Allendale Banks, which was lovely. The wine was good - full of rose flavour and a promise of the exotic - and a nice way to end our holiday. Despite the heavy cold, it has been an excellent, relaxing week.

Hiding behind trees on our walk at Allendale Banks

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Clementine Wine - Fourth Bottle (6), 3rd-4th May 2017

There is a great photo of me looking relaxed and happy while Nick has his first sip of Clementine Wine. His eyes are bulging in the manner of one who realises he has just been poisoned. Now, I wouldn't go so far to describe this as poisonous, but all I can taste is a bitter lemon pith. Nick noted its petrol flavours and described a dustiness. The wine stayed open for two days around nine drinkers, and still over half the bottle went down the sink. At least that is another bottle of this vile brew finished.

Nick with bulging eyes

Monday, 15 May 2017

Rhubarb Wine - First Bottle (A5), 3rd May 2017

Of all the bottles I took on holiday with me, I would not have predicted rhubarb to be the Hit Flavour. I thought it would be ordinary and only brought it because the rhubarb had come from Nick's allotment. However, this wine was excellent. It has a taste of real wine - there is a complexity there which I had not expected. We drank it after a walk along Hadrian's Wall where the sun shone, the wind blew and I came away feeling weather-beaten. It was a brilliant day.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Blackberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (B3), 2nd-3rd May 2017

This bottle of blackberry had started a secondary fermentation, so was drier than the others of this vintage and fizzy. Neither attribute is particularly beneficial, which is a shame because I brought it on holiday as an example of something delicious. It was fine, but no more than.

I opened the wine after an 8-mile walk that in High Force and Low Force on the River Tees, as well as Teeside moorland. There was some beautiful scenery, and High Force was powerful and dangerous. The Tees at this point was peat-blackened with browny-white foam, and it looked as if gallons of Guinness were pouring over the waterfall.

High Force

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Ginger Wine - Third Bottle (3), 1st May 2017

My heavy cold was sufficiently better today that I ventured out for a walk beyond Allendale Town. It was six miles of early-Victorian industrial heritage, following the routes of tunnels leading from the village forge to two stone chimneys jutting out of the moor. Two of my companions were brothers Wilf and Ted (8 and 5) who told me about dragons and held my hands.

In the evening I opened this ginger wine - always good for a cold - and was surprised when David the Architect described it as subtle.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - First Bottle (1), 30th April 2017

I have opened this bottle more than a month earlier than planned because I wanted to bring my very best wine with me on holiday. There are 12 of us staying in an isolated cottage (if a thirteenth arrives, we are likely to be characters in a 1930s murder-mystery) and so everyone had half a glass. The wine is refreshing, with elderflower being the dominant flavour. If one concentrates, the mint is apparent but it is a subtle taste. This wine was generally liked by the assembled throng, but no-one waxed lyrical about it being the best drink ever created.

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

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (D2), 29th April 2017

This was the first of seven bottles of wine that I have brought with me on our holiday in the North Pennines. We are staying in a converted cowshed and barn south of Slaggyford and the place is amazing. Lots of light, floor to ceiling windows and two kitchens.

We drank the blackcurrant wine after a 9-mile walk around the local countryside and a round of cosmopolitans - a dangerous cocktail if ever there was one, but before our meal of peppered steaks. Now, however, I am coming down with a bad cold and my throat feels like sand paper.

The place we stayed

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Third Bottle (1), 26th-27th April 2017

I was disappointed with this wine, but that was probably because of the mood that I was in. The wine had no distinction - I got neither strawberry nor crab apple from it. It might as well have been shop-bought (which, actually, must mean it was rather good). Wednesday's bad mood was courtesy of WYSO - and more specifically the Mission: Impossible theme. I can't play it. The bassoons are forever on the off-beat and I find that (suitably) impossible. Bassoons were not built to be groovy. We were built to play Mozart.

This is not what a bassoon is meant to do

Monday, 1 May 2017

Dandelion Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 23rd April 2017

Drunk on St George's Day in every sense! It seemed like a fitting occasion for a bottle of dandelion wine. Could anything be more English? The wine is superb - a full sherry that is smooth in the throat. This policy of leaving a year between bottles requires patience but pays dividends. I had a lovely, relaxed day too. Claire was off being tutored in the art of the string quintet so I spent a day on the chaiselongue reading and doing very little else. The book is A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, our Book Group Book, and it is beautifully written. 'Jolly' is not an adjective to describe it, however.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (E4), 22nd-23rd April 2017

Claire has been at a String Quartet course all weekend and on Saturday evening I was her guest for the private concert given by the Bingham Quartet, who were tutoring the course. They played a 1998 piece by Stephen Speer, Shostakovich's 8th Quartet and something by Smetana. All were intense with moments of anger and pain.

Watching a professional quartet is exhilerating - it is so personal. Afterwards we steadied our nerves by drinking most of a bottle of crab apple wine, which went well with the black-eyed bean curry I made. Two errors crept into the making - it was meant to be black eyed peas (but I didn't have any of them) and I mistook an unlabelled jar of paprika for the turmeric required. Yes, I know one is red and the other is yellow. All I can say is that I am an idiot. Still tasted nice, though.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Tenth Bottle (B6), 18th-19th April 2017

This bottle marked Easter's last hurrah. Most of Easter Monday was spent in York seeing Mom, Rachael, Myles & Paul. We didn't do very much, but in an entirely satisfactory way. Mom beat both Claire and me at Scrabble which Rachael watched and Myles slept, but it was close. We opened the Rose Petal Wine on our return to Leeds and I spent a frustrating ten minutes willing our internet to work sufficiently so that I could watch Broadchurch's final episode live. This, of course, failed - so I stayed up late seeking solace in rose petal wine until the internet decided to work and I could watch the episode. Both the programme and the wine were entirely satisfactory. The taxi driver was not the villain.

I spent the afternoon entertaining my wife and nephew

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Third Bottle (B6), 16th April 2017

We had two bottles to tidy up, but it was Easter Sunday and a glass and a half of wine each was definitely not going to be enough. So I opened, and we finished, this bottle of prune & parsnip. It was the right wine for a spicy egg biryani. The sweet depth of prune & parsnip complemented the caramalised onions and cut through the curry's heat.

With the bottle having been finished, I made a couple of bush teas and we settled down to Doctor Who. The new companion is excellent so far and I am so pleased it is back.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Blackberry Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (A3), 15th-16th April 2017

This was meant to be elderberry wine. Claire had made a fabulous goulash with large chunks of succulent beef and ventured under the stairs for a bottle. Now, in Claire's defence, the 'BB' I had written on the top of the cork could, if one was careless or in a hurry, be mistaken for an 'EB'. But my label (which I am looking at as I write) definitely definitely says 'Blackberry'. And we had a bottle of this earlier in the week. My policy of spacing flavours consumed has taken a battering. Still a good wine, though.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Kiwi Fruit Wine - Final Bottle (4), 14th-16th April 2017

Sooz claimed that she could taste Kiwi Fruit in this wine. Neither Claire nor I could. Having left the wine four years since making, it has developed the flavour of generic home-made wine that has stood around too long. I get the same taste from Julia's wines. It was still drinkable, but 'drinkable' does not translate as 'pleasant'.

We drank most the bottle on Good Friday, which was a lazy day interspersed with a trip out to Saltaire and plenty more booze. The wine was then untouched on Saturday, and finished after we had drunk the good stuff on Sunday. Easter Day was another relaxed day - it is a less frantic holiday than Christmas - in which Jayne came over, Claire finished crocheting a hare's head, and I decided not to make Kiwi Wine again.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Orange Wine - Second Bottle (B2), 13th-14th April 2017

Opened on Maundy Thursday (when a bottle of rhubarb wine between three was insufficient) and finished on Good Friday. On her first glass, Claire thought that this orange wine was particularly poor. Whilst I agree that 2015's vintage was better, I considered her opinion to be unduly harsh. She then remembered that she had spent the last two minutes swilling with unpleasant mouthwash. Following on from that, there were no complaints. Sooz did not pick up the orange flavour until instructed to think 'peel' rather than 'juice'.

Because Sooz is staying we spent Friday afternoon wandering around Saltaire and came to the conclusion that the mill is rather more interesting than the village. The shop selling kitchen equipment and furniture is ridiculous, though: £600 for two champagne glasses; £4,000 for an armchair. I was careful not to touch.

The sort of furniture sold at Saltaire for ridiculous prices

Friday, 21 April 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Ninth Bottle (B2), 13th April 2017

To mark the occasion of 2017's first Rhubarb Cream Pie, I opened a bottle of rhubarb wine. Our garden is producing rhubarb in healthy quantities, which bodes well for next month's brewing. But whilst rhubarb wine is good (it is the one I make which is closest to real wine), rhubarb pie is better. It is a taste of my childhood, and you can't improve on that.

In other exciting news, our stairs and landing now have a new carpet. Who says that my life is not a thrill a minute?

Our newly carpeted stairs

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Fig Wine - Fourth Bottle (2), 12th April 2017

Sooz has come to stay over Easter so I have welcomed her with one of my best wines. Actually, we began with a gin & tonic. This may not have been the best idea - I do have work tomorrow. Anyway, we all agreed that the wine is a good one - very figgy with a nutty aroma - and the bottle is now empty.

My father has just rung - he is off to America for five weeks and rang to say 'goodbye'. I get the impression that each time he goes, he is never absolutely certain he will survive until he is due back. Generally he won't ring otherwise.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Blackberry Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (A5), 10th-11th April 2017

It is rare that I open a bottle on a Monday, and even rarer that I do before six. But Claire is on holiday and it was her alter-ego - Cornelia Gruntfuttock - 's birthday. That was excuse enough. I had a WYSO committee meeting, which was a pleasant way to pass the time - talking about music and concerts and conductors.

On Tuesday we each had a glass before Claire left to play string quintets and I settled in to watch the penultimate episode of Broadchurch, which has been fantastic this series - and I still think that the taxi driver is the main villain.

Broadchurch Taxi Driver

Monday, 17 April 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (A6), 9th-10th April 2017

I had to delve into the crypt to retrieve this bottle, but that at least meant it was cool (and covered in spider webs). Sunday was the warmest April day I can remember - in some parts of the country (though not Leeds) it reached 25o. Much of the day, consequently, was spent in the garden - which is looking fabulous at the moment. We had Rachel, Duncan & Ruth round for brunch and sat under the apple tree with coffee and pastries.

I opened the wine this evening while making this year's ginger wine. It is a good vintage of crab apple, and now our brand new crab apple tree is putting out proto-blossom, I have high hopes that it will not be my last.

Our crab apple tree

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Ginger Wine 2017 - The Making Of...

April is a cruel month. It is on the verge of foraging season but that really only produces nettles and dandelions. I made dandelion wine last year and nettle wine about ten years ago. It is too soon to make either again. Therefore, for a decent wine, I need to buy my ingredients. This year I was in a quandary about what to make. Should I give Kiwi Fruit another go, or experiment with Tomato or Carrot? On 6th April I opened a bottle of Ginger Wine. It was so good that my mind was made up. Ginger it was to be, and I have followed my 2016 recipe precisely. If this wine is the same, I will promote ginger to a regular flavour rather than it making the occasional guest appearance.

I bought my ingredients on Saturday morning, 8th April, from Ruby's but started making the wine on Sunday, on account of playing in a concert in Pontefract on Saturday. The weather was so good the whole weekend that doing anything other than sitting quietly in the garden seemed like a chore.

Anyway, on Sunday afternoon I measured out 5½ oz of ginger and took the outer rough skin off it, though was not overly fussy in doing so. I sliced the ginger into the thinnest slices I could, reasoning that the larger the surface area, the more gingery the taste. Next I took the outer peel off four lemons, doing my best to avoid the pith (though 'my best' would only be classified as 'adequate' by Ofsted). Both the ginger and peel went into the bucket. I minced a pound of sultanas and put these in too. I squeezed all four lemons, added the juice and then boiled 3½ pints of water and put this in.

Whilst I suspect it makes no difference, I waited 24 hours before adding 2 lbs 8 oz sugar and another 3½ pints of boiling water.

On Tuesday morning, 11th April, I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase. Through the week I stirred the wine once or twice a day and today, Saturday 15th April, I put the wine into its demijohn. This took longer than I had anticipated, and I blame the minced sultanas. The wine smells lovely, though, and there is a gingery tinge to its colour.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Blackcurrant & Raspberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (B1), 7th April 2017

This wine is better than I had remembered. It has matured nicely and has developed a sherry taste, while still being distinctly fruity. We took it to Ros's for an evening of wine, nibbles and conversation. It was meant to be Book Group, but so many people could not make it that we have postponed. This allowed us to catch up with Ros properly - it has been too long.

We drank a toast to Julia, finished the bottle quickly, opened another (real wine this time) and finished that too. The walk home did not feel as long as the walk there. Funny that.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Ginger Wine - Second Bottle (5), 6th-8th April 2017

I make a damn fine ginger wine. This wine was so good that I have decided to make ginger wine again this year - it may even become a regular. The ginger taste is pronounced; it is a drink with a zing. But there are subtleties too, and those are provided by the lemon.

We drank most of this bottle on Thursday because Claire is on holiday this coming week and didn't need to worry about getting up the next morning. Our last glass was saved for Saturday night on our return from a concert in Pontefract: Mozart's Requiem and the middle third of The Messiah. Oh, We Like Sheep.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Ya Ya Pear Wine - First Bottle (2), 5th-6th April 2017

Well, this is quite an odd wine. It isn't disgusting or bland - and those were my two "Most Likely Adjectives". However, 'Nice' doesn't really feature either. There is a chemical taste to it, reminiscent of pear-drops. Claire describes the wine as 'astringent'. It is drinkable - albeit a mid-week bottle - and I'm satisfied with that. Good colour as well - the barest hint of pink.

This evening I finished the bottle while ditching TalkTalk from our lives. Our internet service has been getting increasingly awful. Last night it took me an hour to watch 9 minutes of Broadchurch, and something needed to be done. Claire suggested that I ask to be released without the early exit fee. I did, and it worked!

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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Twelfth Bottle (D4), 1st April 2017

I gave this bottle to first-cousin-once-removed Adam to open. We were in Hertfordshire, having been to Uncle Brian and Auntie Jan's 50th Wedding Anniversary. Instead of pulling the cork out, he pushed it further into the bottle's neck. I got a teaspoon and completed the job. The first glass had many bits of cork, so I had that, and the flavour was unaffected. It remained excellent. Becky refused a glass, and is therefore my least favourite cousin. It was a fabulous evening, full of extended family gossip.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Tenth Bottle (A3), 30th March - 3rd April 2017

I have struggled to remember when this bottle was opened, but it must have been Thursday. On Tuesday I went out for a curry with Darren & Nigel, and on Wednesday we were out giving constructive criticism to a piano, clarinet and horn trio (though I mostly turned pages). So, Thursday it was - and I made a delicious tortilla, which this wine accompanied. It being a Thursday we held off on finishing the bottle - until Monday, though there was barely a glass each. I had mine listening to a quirky documentary on Radio 4 about a man who corrects apostrophes on shop signs in the dead of night. Excellent stuff (as was the wine).

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti Wine - Third Bottle (B4), 26th March 2017

Despite the unseasonably warm weather (I spent the morning in a T-shirt), I drank this wine in front of the stove. Hot spring days have surprisingly cold spring nights. During the morning I did manly gardening - removing boulders and tearing tree roots out of the front garden with my bare hands. The afternoon was spent playing Bruckner indoors, looking forlornly at the sunshine outside. Still, the wine was fine - more of a rosé than a red, and once I made that adjustment it ceased being disappointing.

The other thing I did while drinking this wine was to book a week's holiday in Corfu. Gulp!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Ninth Bottle (A5), 25th-26th March 2017

Mostly this bottle was a "second bottle after the concert" bottle, but there was still enough for two small glasses on Sunday. One bottle is not enough between four, particularly when the adrenalin is up. It was only Claire's adrenalin, mind. I was in the audience with Rachel & Duncan. Consequently, Claire had the lion's share - and deservedly so.

Both Saturday and Sunday had fabulous weather - better than many summer days, so rose petal wine somehow felt like the correct flavour.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Blackberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (A6), 25th March 2017

A bottle of wine is always welcome after a concert, particularly when the wine is as good as this.

The concert was WYSO's 'England All at Sea'; the main pieces were Elgar's Sea Pictures (with a stunning contralto) and Frank Bridge's The Sea. Our poster showed a sinking ship - and any Brexit imagery must surely be a coincidence.

For once I was in the audience (on account of my tooth recovery) and it was a pleasure to be there. WYSO is a better orchestra than I had thought - the strings are a strong section, and I don't hear that when playing. After the concert we invited Rachel & Duncan over and dispatched the wine with alarming speed. Another bottle was duly opened...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Rhubarb, Elderflower & Mint Wine - Final Bottle (4), 24th March 2017

Friday night was 'Neighbourhood Pizza Night'. Liz and David at number 33 had the idea and made the pizza, Angie & Phil brought bread, Claire supplied the tiramisu and I took along a bottle of wine. Rhubarb, elderflower & mint was chosen as one of my best and we drank it as an aperitif. Everyone liked it; Angie still remembers my Potato wine and anything compared to that is nectar. The mint was noticeable in this bottle, which is always beneficial. We had a lovely night, full of conversation and laughter, and at the end of it the walk home took rather less than two minutes.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (B5), 18th-19th March 2017

I put this bottle in the fridge in anticipation of our return from Faure's Requiem, courtesy of Batley Music Club. We had expected dire things, but in fact it only required one glass of crab apple wine each in order to recover.

Most of the bottle was drunk to a roast chicken dinner - our first roast for quite some time. We had spent the day visiting more garden centres than planned, finishing the herb bed and catching up on odds and ends. I finished Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro - which was a morbid, uncomfortable read yet gripping. The wine was equally gripping but pleasingly neither morbid nor uncomfortable.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rhubarb Wine 2014 - Final Bottle (B1), 17th March 2017

Having bottled a triple batch of rose petal (which produces a goodly quantity of spare wine for immediate consumption), opening and finishing a bottle of rhubarb wine was perhaps not wise. Claire said that anything delicious would be wasted and therefore this bottle was an adequate choice. Rhubarb wine does not age brilliantly. There was a hint of cheese to its taste, but this was subtle enough to be nearly ignored. We drank it in front of the stove bemoaning the state of the world in general and Claire's job prospects in particular.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Orange Wine - First Bottle (B6), 15th-16th March 2017

I think this orange wine is a touch too bitter and could have done with more sugar. It has the taste of unsweetened marmalade - all peel and no juice. Claire disagrees, which is good as there are another eleven bottles. She thinks it would go well with food - curry particularly.

This was the first alcohol I had drunk for nearly a week (if one discounts a bottle of clove & ginger) and was to celebrate having finished my antibiotics. I made a cake to go with it whilst Claire was at WYSO - and continuing the theme, it was Delia's Marmalade Cake. Maybe I should turn my hand to baking: the cake was rather more successful than the wine.

If you want to see how I made this wine, you can either look at the post before, or click here for the actual version I made in 2016

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Orange Wine 2017 - The Making Of...

Today is the first day since 3rd March that I have not had stabbing pain in my jaw and that I have not been on a four-hourly diet of pain killers. It is 12th March - nine days after my coronectomy - and until half an hour ago I was starting to believe that everything would be alright. However, I made the mistake of trying to play the bassoon just now. I got no further than putting the reed in my mouth and realising that this was not a good idea. Now, of course, I am worrying that I will never play the bassoon again. Still, I have wine-making as my other hobby, and I don't need a working mouth for that.

Today, after a brief spell in the garden helping Claire to create a herb bed, I started making my orange wine. As ever, this is a double batch for which I needed 24 oranges. Earlier in the week I had picked up three 'family size' bags from Sainsburys. On the whole I prefer to avoid supermarkets for my fruit and veg, but in this instance my inner miser (which is rather less 'inner' than that phrase suggests) won out and I went for what was cheap.

Taking the outermost peel off oranges
I took the outer most layer of peel off 12 of the oranges, and for once was nearly successful in avoiding the pith. This took about an hour and I avoided boredom by listening to a crime drama with Meera Syal on Radio 4 Catch-Up. I have covered this peel with 2 pints of boiling water and I will pour the water (minus the peel) into my bucket when I return from work tomorrow.

Orange peel to be covered with 2 pints of water

I squeezed all 24 oranges, measured the juice (3¾ pints) and poured this into the bucket. To this, I added 9 pints of cold water and 5½ lbs of sugar. Because the water is cold I have not had to wait to put in the yeast and rounded teaspoon of nutrient. This year I am experimenting by not putting in a teaspoon of pectolase. My hypothesis is that the wine will clear without it.

Wine in the bucket

On Friday night (17th March) the wine went into its demijohns. This took little time as there was virtually nothing to sieve out - only a bit of pulp - but I was careful to leave a half-pint gap between the liquid and the top of the demijohn. I don't want a repeat of last month's prune & parsnip shambles with wine froth all over our bathroom. As ever, orange wine at this stage is the happiest of yellows.