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.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty First Bottle (E1), 15th-16th November 2017

As we returned to the house from WYSO, Claire asked whether we had any wine. We have rather a lot, so I fished out a bottle of crab apple from under the stairs. It had been a good rehearsal - I have new bassoon reeds and they make such a difference. I had not realised how much effort I expended in playing on my old ones. I can now do dynamics and everything! Anyway, a glass of wine slipped down easily but I showed restraint by not refilling my glass.

The rest of the bottle waited till Thursday, when I spent much of the evening watching I Know Who You Are. This second series is not as good as the first - a common occurrence. It is too event-led, whereas the last series depended on characters.


Saturday, 18 November 2017

Rhubarb Wine - Ninth Bottle (C4), 9th-12th November 2017

On Thursday night, while on a train from London to Leeds, my phone buzzed. A text from Claire read "I have opened a bottle of wine". I sent one back suggesting that she may have chosen Peach & Banana, but was informed that it was 'nice', thus ruling out that flavour. When I returned, several glasses of wine ahead (travelling First Class is marvellous), I found this bottle of rhubarb in the fridge - so poured Claire and I another half glass each. Claire was right; it is a good bottle of wine.

We left the remainder in the fridge whilst we spent the weekend in Newcastle, celebrating Bob & Judith and Richard & Dianne's 50th Wedding Anniversaries. This involved a Barn Dance and lots of beer. I dosy-doed, swung and stripped the willow like a good 'in, driving back to Leeds on Sunday morning with a headache. Half a bottle of wine between us on Sunday was plenty.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Blackberry Wine - Third Bottle (C4), 7th-9th November 2017

I am writing this several days after this bottle was emptied and consequently can remember little about it. Claire was suffering from existential angst on Tuesday and wine generally helps with that. We drank Tuesday's share (about half the bottle) to a fabulous, if I do say so myself, beef stir-fry - using up some of Sunday's roast. Then a glass each on Wednesday after WYSO (where Tchaik 5 is starting to get some sort of shape) and Claire finished the bottle on Thursday as I was returning from London. The wine was alright - not as disappointing as I had remembered. And there is praise indeed.


Monday, 13 November 2017

Elderberry Wine - Eighth Bottle (B1), 5th November 2017

What a great bottle of wine. Everything that elderberry should be - dark, earthy, sophisticated. It was also my only bottle of the weekend: Friday had been Book Group and we were playing Handel's Coronation Anthems in Pontefract on Saturday. Having just the one bottle is a rare event, and I savoured it all the more for that reason. Claire cooked a slab of beef in Madeira, auditioning the recipe for Christmas, when all the Taylors will descend. It got a definite approval from me - far better than turkey. And we will have enough of that in a few weeks for Thanksgiving.

One of the Coronation Anthems involves this man

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Apple Wine and Apple & Strawberry Wine - The Making Of...

Apple Wine

At WYSO in early September, Katie asked me if I had any use for apples. I did a quick mental calculation of how much wine I have made so far this year (result: 'Too Much') and replied that I would be delighted to receive 4 lbs. Her apple tree has been prolific this year, whereas ours is far less fruitful than last.

Blurred apples
On Wednesday 13th September, Katie brought me a carrier bag full of red sweet-smelling apples. I do not know the variety, but they are eaters rather than cookers and have snow-white flesh. On Monday, 18th September, on returning from St Neots and Emily & Marco's wedding - a wonderful family affair enlivened by Mexican food and tequila shots - I had a spare afternoon so started the wine.


I washed the apples, cut them into eight pieces each and whizzed them through the food processor on the 'slice' attachment. Next I minced 1 lb of sultanas, again using the good processor, and put all this into the bucket along with 3 lbs sugar. I boiled 6½ pints of water and poured this over, filling the kitchen with an apple scent. The same evening I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase.


On Thursday night, 21st September (after 'Caramel Week' on Bake Off) I put the liquid into its demijohn in the usual manner. There was only just enough and I had to squeeze the discarded pulp for its last drops. The wine is brown and has a large head of foam. I'm wondering if I have made a real ale.



Apple & Strawberry

Our apple tree has not been fecund this year, so I am leaving most of the fruit to the blackbirds. However, by early November, enough apples had fallen off intact for me to collect 4 lbs and make Apple & Strawberry Wine.


I sliced up the apples on 2nd November using the same method as set out above and added these to my bucket containing 1 lb of crushed strawberries. I poured over 6½ pints of boiling water, again releasing a fabulous scent, and then stirred in 3 lbs of sugar.


I transferred the liquid to its demijohn on Tuesday evening, 7 November. The wine is pinker than last year and the taste I got promises great things.

The Apple is on the left, after 6 weeks in its demijohn


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Ninth Bottle (A6), 31st October - 3rd November 2017

It was the Bake Off final on Tuesday night, and of course that called for a bottle of wine. I opened Prune & Parsnip for no better reason than we have not had one in a while. There is nothing that suggests 'baking' about it (though it could be used in a trifle). I will miss our Tuesday nights, curled up on the sofa, watching Reality Television and eating treats.

Claire had what remained of the bottle (which was not a right lot!) on Friday before Book Group (South Riding by Winifred Holtby, a book I cannot recommend enough - I loved it). I was driving and she was in need. But her new job starts Monday, which means things should start to look brighter.


Monday, 6 November 2017

Crab Apple & Strawberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (5), 28th October 2017

Whenever I am playing something at Music Club I will put a good bottle of wine in the fridge so that I have something pleasant waiting for me on my return. This time it was Crab Apple & Strawberry for my first ever solo performance. I was far outside my comfort zone so chose something easy to play well, rather than something showy to play badly: Song of the Penguins by Sam Haywood and  Little Suite by Philip Godfrey. And I gave them a pretty decent shot, meaning the wine was a celebration rather than used to drown my sorrows. Claire had stayed home - she is low at the moment - to watch Midsomer Murders and eat crisps, and she kindly left me half the bottle. It is a fine wine - crisp, fruity, dry and satisfying.


Saturday, 4 November 2017

Jasmine Tea Wine - The Making Of...

For several years I have been thinking about the letter J for my wine alphabet. I had rejected 'Jam' as a cheat, though there is a recipe and we have many jars of ancient and random jam in our attic. Jack-fruit comes in tins, is fibrous and has an odd, meaty texture. Much as I would like to turn Jerusalem Artichokes into wine, I don't think we are growing them in sufficient quantity. The solution presented itself at my wine party last week. Rodney suggested Jasmine flowers, which would be expensive and difficult to obtain. Liz refined this to Jasmine Tea, which is sold in Sainsbury's and works out at 10p a bag.

The ingredients, plus a gate-crashing orange
On checking my diary for Tea Wine, I noticed that I had written "Never make this wine again", or words to that effect. Advice is there to be ignored. Anyway, that was black tea, and this is Jasmine Green Tea, so it is bound to be different. I remember that my previous tea wine had too much flavour - it was cloying, strong and too sweet - so I have cut down the quantities of most ingredients.

Measuring the tea
It being the end of October and with me not having made any wine so far this month, I started the wine this morning, 29th October. This time I have used 1¼ oz of tea (which was 15 tea bags, ripped open and shaken out), 3 oranges (just the juice), 1 lb minced sultanas and 2½ lbs of sugar. I boiled 2½ pints of water and poured this over the tea in my bucket. This brewed while I squeezed the oranges and minced the sultanas (in the food processor). I put these in the bucket, added the sugar and then poured in another 5½ pints of boiling water. I can't imagine that adding the water in two stages will have made any difference, but this is what I did last time (and that was obviously such a success).

Stirring the tea
When I came to put in the fermenting aids on Sunday evening, I found my wine-making tin bereft of yeast. A quick Facebook message to Liz and a saunter down Bentcliffe Drive saw me returning with her tub. I added a teaspoon plus nutrient and pectolase. The wine went into my demijohn on Thursday evening, 2nd November. Currently its colour is an unattractive greeny-beige, and I fear this will taste awful. But now, at least, the alphabet is complete!

The end of the alphabet

Friday, 3 November 2017

Ugli Fruit Wine - Third Bottle (2), 26th October 2017

Thursday is not normally a 'whole bottle of wine' evening, particularly if I am planning to walk to work the following day. All I can say is 'oops'.

In fact, Claire continues to have a difficult time with the university's HR departments and felt in need of half a bottle of wine. We were having fish and a citrus wine always goes well with that, so I extracted a bottle of Ugli Fruit. I think it is lighter in taste than Orange wine but they are definitely similar. The fish dish was invented by Claire from what we have in the fridge and was so good that she has recorded the recipe in her Little Red Book.


Fish Lairs [sic]

Par boil some slices of potato and leek
Mix slices of potato and leek with cream, salt, pepper and lots of garlic
Put fish fillets on top
Put slices of lemon on top
Put slices of courgette/marrow (aka zucchini) on top
Put herbs on top
Drizzle olive oil on top
Bake about 200 degrees C until done

Delicious and nutritious.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Ya-Ya Pear Wine - Third Bottle (4), 21st October 2017

Ladies & Gentlemen, may I present this year's loser of the Wine Party. Ya-ya Pear was the lowest scorer of my 12 bottles, with an average score of 2.19 out of 5. It was the lowest scored wine by Rachel, Helen, Claire, Phil, Anthony and me. Only David ("4 - Length") and Matthew ("3 - Crisp and delicate") had anything nice to say about it. We still managed to finish the bottle between us, however and I am not aware of any hangovers the following morning. Four guests stayed over: Rachel, Duncan, Kate and Jayne; and all were bright, chirpy and ready for bacon sandwiches on Sunday.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Peach & Banana Wine - Fifth Bottle (6), 21st October 2017

This is awful news. I thought that with this bottle we had completed our Peach & Banana journey into darkness. But there is still a bottle left, lurking somewhere under the stairs.

I used the Wine Party as an excuse to get rid of this bottle. Curiously, though, it has improved beyond nearly undrinkable. In fact Lindsay and Matthew both gave it a 4.5 and its overall average was 2.39. It did not come bottom of the pile. Rodney's face, though, was a picture as he took his first sip. It was the epitome of disgust. He scored it a zero.