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.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Elderberry Wine - Fourth Bottle (A3), 4th June 2017

Generally it is accepted that should one couple visit another with plans to spend the evening drinking, the visiting couple will bring a bottle of wine with them. Duncan & Rachel have obviously not read the same etiquette books that I have. They turned up empty-handed and this was the second of two bottles drunk. Lucky that we are very good friends!

This elderberry is fabulous - I think one of the best I have made. It is smooth, deep and semi-sweet. So far there is no secondary fermentation - and a flat red is better than a fizzy one. I shall try to make the bottles in this batch an occasional treat.

Obviously not found on Rachel and Duncan's book shelf

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (A4), 4th June 2017

I opened this bottle on Sunday night after an active weekend in which I discussed the merits of Bonkbusters at Book Group (very few, it turns out), ran through the wood shooting people with a  laser gun, and celebrating my brother's 50th birthday. A worrying number of party guests asked whether I was older than Chris. Which means they thought I look at least 52. I'm forty-bloody-six. How very dare they?

It was a relief to have some quiet time with a bottle of blackcurrant wine (always a good flavour), though we had Rachel and Duncan around to share it and a couple of take-out pizzas. A thoroughly satisfying weekend.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Fig Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 29th May 2017

The day before we drank this wine Brigitta came for an evening meal and Claire made dish after dish of Morrocan food, following Claudia Roden's recipes. It was splendid food, and enough for a second round on Monday night. It being a bank holiday, we hadn't been at work and didn't have an orchestra rehearsal, so a perfect excuse to open a bottle of wine. Fig was chosen as it seemed fitting for North African food, and it really is a fabulous flavour. Exotic with a nutty aroma. We finished the bottle curled up on the sofa watching Doctor Who - a perfect end to our long weekend.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Strawberry Wine 2014 - Final Bottle (1), 27th May 2017

I have come to the conclusion that home made wine falls into two categories: those that age well and those that do not. Strawberry is in the latter group. This bottle was okay, but I wouldn't have wanted to leave it much longer. It has developed that generic country wine taste, which borders on the sherry but where the original fruit flavour is masked. This was no longer the delicious strawberry wine that I remember.

We drank it in Rachel's garden - she is about to let the house, so this was a way to say goodbye. Actually, we only drank half of it there. The weather has turned - our brief summer ended - so we scuttled indoors for the remainder.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Rose Petal Wine - Twelfth Bottle (A3), 26th May 2017

With six middle-aged, middle class adults sitting in the garden on a warm Friday evening in May, one bottle was never going to be enough. My second (though not final) of the evening was this rose-petal wine - and it was perfect for the occasion; floral, summery and with a touch of the Middle East.

Part of the evening's entertainment was watching tadpoles feast on the corpse of a dead fish in our pond - a delightful pastoral scene. I trust this will result in several healthy bouncing frogs before the summer is up.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Second Bottle (A2), 26th May 2017

On the strength of this bottle, wine making may be contagious.

It being a lovely evening, we invited Liz, David, Phil and Angie for a sit round the pond and an end of week bottle of wine. The rhubarb wine was delicious (though maybe not as much as the rhubarb gin that Phil brought) and I have now made arrangements to lend a bucket, a couple of demijohns and some yeast to Liz so she can make her own. Bentcliffe Drive will become its own wine region should Liz catch the bug. She has an excess of rhubarb, so at least that is a start.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Sixteenth Bottle (D2), 24th-25th May 2017

My first glass of this crab apple (which incidentally is excellent - full of apple at the sharp end) was drunk in bed while struggling on with Appassionata by Jilly Cooper. Our Book Group party in June is themed around 'Bonkbusters', and this is mine. I find it close to unreadable - unlikeable characters, dull and petty themes, sprinkled with inaccuracies about classical music.

My second glass was better - drunk in the garden on Thursday enjoying the early evening warmth - and not a Bonkbuster in sight.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Ugli Fruit Wine - First Bottle (1), 21st May 2017

Well, this is an unexpected delight. I had anticipated something rather less than middling at best and bloody awful at worst. What I have is a light and fresh citrus wine that has no hint of bitterness and that I would be proud to serve in company. Whilst this flavour will remain a one off, I think (and whisper it quietly) it may be even better than Orange Wine.

It was drunk at the end of a lovely, quiet weekend in which I exercised some previously unused gardening muscles removing ash saplings, buttercups, brambles and grasses from our front garden. It may not sound like heavy work (it wasn't) but I ache all over.

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

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourteenth Bottle (B1), 20th May 2017

On the whole, Richard likes his wines white. I was too disorganised on Saturday to put anything in the fridge, so I took along a blackcurrant wine instead. We were eating at Richard & Linda's and were fed royally. It is not a proper evening there unless I come away clutching my sides, groaning "I ate too much". Saturday was a proper evening. Our starter was mackerel with a gooseberry, apple and cucumber salsa. For the main course we had a goats' cheese, red onion & asparagus pasta dish with home-made soda bread flavoured with carrot and parmesan. Finally, Richard served a honey, blueberry & lemon cake which he claimed was underbaked, but I had a second slice anyway. The wine, whilst nice, could hardly compare.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Blackberry Wine - Seventeenth Bottle (B6), 14th-16th May 2017

Half a bottle of Christmas Tutti Fruti on a Sunday night was never going to be enough. Particularly when Claire and I had spent the weekend apart. I had been at a Warwick reunion, which was wonderful, but I was keen to get home to see Claire. In fact I spent most the evening making rhubarb wine, but at least I was pottering on familiar territory.

We left the last glass of wine until tonight, and my helping was distinctly soupy. More of an alcoholic blackberry smoothy than a glass of wine. But what's not to like?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Fourth Bottle (A6), 13th-14th May 2017

My phone buzzed whilst I was at a Turkish restaurant in London at a 25-year University Reunion Meal. "Have opened a bottle of Tutti Fruti" it read. I approved of Claire's choice - it has been a while since we drank one of those. While Claire spent the evening with the wine and an episode of Midsomer Murders I was recapturing my Warwick days. It was joyous seeing Sue & Caroline again, and being in Kings Cross Station at midnight, having it to ourselves, was magical.

The bottle had half its contents when I returned, but that was soon remedied. We drank it chilled while wandering round the garden, inspecting our holdings in soft fruit and columbines.

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