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 April 2018

Dandelion Wine - First Bottle (3), 14th April 2018

I am extremely pleased with this bottle. It has elements of a medium sherry, but with a lemon zing and something unusual besides. That will probably be the dandelions. It has a dark gold colour and was clear all the way down. I shall ration this flavour to one a year because dandelion wine is one of those that keeps on improving.

It was a suitable choice for the day, which has been the first day this year that has felt spring-like. No rain and the sun made a showing for part of it. I spent a couple of hours in the garden, cleaning the eventual rose-bed. Claire tidied borders and pottered, some of which involved pulling up dandelions.

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

Monday, 16 April 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti 2015 - Tenth Bottle (B5), 7th-8th April 2018

On Saturday night, I allowed myself only a sip of wine. This was because on Saturday afternoon I allowed myself a whole bottle. The bottle was an Italian red and the sip was Tutti Fruti. The bottle was better. I had been out for lunch with Rodney, and that always involves too much to drink.

We finished the Tutti Fruti on Sunday after a whole day of learning how to make lithographic prints using tin foil and coca cola. I hadn't been to an art lesson since I was 14 and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Claire concentrated on blood cells for her design, whereas my most successful involved rhubarb wine.

My lithograph
The image I worked from (but in mirror image)

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Gooseberry Wine - Second Bottle (4), 5th-6th April 2018

My phone is ancient and temperamental. Every so often it decides not to receive texts or phone calls for a few days and then vomits them all out at once. Hence, on Thursday night whilst I was out for a curry and beers with Darren and Nigel, I did not get Claire's text asking what bottle she could open. Had I done so, I would have replied "Not gooseberry". Never mind.

I had a couple of small glasses on Friday night - I had been feeling delicate all day. This wine is bone dry and as sharp as needles with a gooseberry punch. I wonder how it will mature, but at this rate I am unlikely to find out.

This is what my phone looks like

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Third Bottle (B3), 3rd April 2018

I like this wine more than I remember. The rose petals are distinctive without being overpowering and there is an overall dark fruity taste. It was questionable whether finishing the bottle was a good idea, however. Particularly after a large glass each of crab apple wine. On a Tuesday night.

Claire and I settled in to watch Lewis but its denouement was ruined, rather, by mouse activity. A mouse brought in by Wiggy a few nights ago is in rude health*. All four legitimate household mammals spent 15 minutes chasing the illegitimate mammal round the dining room, failing to catch it. Yet again, we have rubbish cats*.

*Update: A couple of nights ago Claire was woken by a crunching sound. Wiggy was eating a mouse in our bedroom. Claire got up, didn't turn any lights on, picked up the (very much dead) mouse. By the soggy end. I slept through, but curiously had a dream of a cat eating a mouse.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Crab Apple Wine - Twenty-fourth Bottle (A1), 2nd-3rd April 2018

I bottled my Blackcurrant on Easter Monday, but that did not produce sufficient wine. Hence opening this bottle of crab apple, which continues to be a decent, highly drinkable wine. I spent the evening watching the first episode of And Then There Were None: a book I remember from when I was 11 - it is a nasty little tale of cruelty and retribution, but has an all-star cast so is (at least) glorious to look at.

We finished the bottle on Tuesday (and then finished another) because Claire was still on her Easter holidays and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Ginger Wine - First Bottle (5), 1st April 2018

This is a superb bottle of wine. It is light and refreshing and gingery, but no so gingery that it is a novelty wine. Very drinkable too. Neither of us believed Claire when she said, on its opening, "We don't need to finish it". By nine o'clock, it was gone. I spent most my time reading Bird Cage Walk by Helen Dunmore, which was excellent. It is a novel dealing with power, abuse, loss and the conflict between public and private spheres. That makes it sound worth and dull, but it is entirely gripping - there is an element of 'thriller' to it, and Threat is ever present.

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

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Elderberry Wine - Third Bottle (A2), 1st April 2018

Judith cooked an enormous slab of beef for our Easter lunch, and I opened a bottle of elderberry wine to go with it. The food was superb and the wine was passable. This is not my best vintage of elderberry. Andrew's adjective of choice was 'frunty' and I have no idea whether that is a compliment or not.

The weekend was excellent, starting with a lovely visit with Keith and family (we taught Ellis how to play 'Cheat'), going round Craster to buy kippers, watch the waves crash against the pier and get thoroughly cold walking much of the way to Dunstanburgh Castle, and finishing the Guardian cryptic double crossword.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Kiwi Fruit Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Easter Monday should be spent in the garden, followed by a trip to the Garden Centre. This is simply what middle-class, middle-aged British people do. It is our cultural duty. On 2nd April 2018, I failed my nation. In my defence, for much of the day it was snowing and when not snowing there was a torrent of rain. Instead, I spent the morning tidying our bedroom (unearthing paraphernalia from Amsterdam - I was last there in 2016) and the afternoon making kiwi-fruit wine.

I have only made this flavour once before - five years ago - though if you google 'Kiwi Fruit wine' it is the second web page out of the box. I made up the recipe that time and pretty much followed it this. To start, I counted out 20 kiwi fruit, weighed them and added another two to bring the weight up to 3 lbs 8 oz. I cut each of them in half, held the half over the bucket and scooped the insides out with a spoon, discarding the skin. This had the advantage that the flesh and all spare juice landed squarely in the bucket. On the downside I discovered a combination of fine kiwi fruit hairs and acidic kiwi fruit juice has blistered my finger and caused an irritating rash. How I suffer for my hobby!

I mashed the fruit with a potato masher, added 3 lbs of sugar and poured over 6½ pints of boiling water. On Tuesday morning I put in a teaspoon each of nutrient, pectolase and tannin (I can't imagine that it needs any additional acid) and added the yeast. I then left the wine in its bucket until Saturday morning, 7th April, mostly forgetting to stir it twice a day.

On Saturday I got up early - Claire has just got a new phone and her alarm turns out to be a rooster call, which refuses to be turned off - and did my wine-making jobs before ten. Transferring the wine to its demijohn was straightforward and I could have reduced the water in the initial mix by a quarter of a pint - but at that level it won't make a difference. I am pleased that the wine has a distinctly green tinge, albeit on the greyish side. Claire thinks it looks like summer pond water - full of algae but (hopefully) no fish.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Eighth Bottle (C3), 30th March 2018

Bob & Judith's boiler has packed up - so this was an ideal time to visit them for a weekend. We took plenty of clothes and decided that washing would be an unnecessary luxury. In the evening, after visiting Keith, Jaki and Ellis (who I hadn't seen since June, which is far, far too long) I opened a bottle of rose petal wine. It was the only bottle we drank between the four of us, which is unusual, but it was a good one. Chilled, of course.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Orange Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (A6), 27th-28th March 2018

Having had a weekend stuffed with concerts (including a spine-tingling performance of an opera in a barely converted mill) and consequently little alcohol, I opened this bottle on a Monday night. Claire asked for something citrusy to go with fish. It has been over a year since our last bottle of this vintage and age has changed the wine. There is something fuller about it; you do not get the first, lingering hit of orange. Claire says she prefers her orange wine young and sharp, and I can't decide which I would choose. It was a pleasure, though, to have both Monday and Tuesday night at home not rushing off anywhere, recovering from the previous week.

Me at the opera...

Friday, 30 March 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine - Second Bottle (B4), 21st-23rd March 2018

WYSO has, in the past, played on a beach, in a warehouse loading bay and in a swimming pool. We have not done anything quirky for a while. That has changed this week: we are performing La traviata in a disused mill. On Wednesday night we rehearsed there for the first time. It was so cold that you could see your breath. As the singers sang, their music took on this physical manifestation. I wore four layers - three of them fleeces - and could not get warm. Home, then, for a glass of prune & parsnip. Friday was much better, and the opera is sounding fantastic. We finished the bottle as a wind down.

This is a picture from the performance

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Fig Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 18th March 2018

When will it be warm? The weekend has seen yet more snow and I long for a proper Spring. We were in St Albans over Saturday night for Lou's 50th birthday and hot footed it back to Leeds on Sunday morning for a two o'clock rehearsal in Ilkley. Sunday night was spent curled up on the sofa in front of the stove watching Lewis and apologising to the cats. I opened the fig wine for our meal of defrosted leftovers (which was better than that sounds). The wine is lovely - really figgy.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - 21st Bottle (D3), 16th March 2018

I was all prepared to be distinctly cross with our plumber, but I ended up giving him a bottle of blackcurrant wine instead. He hadn't arrived when we were told he would - by a matter of several hours - and ultimately he did not fix the problem (though he is coming back). However, he was charming and interested in the wine and (most importantly) saved us £100 be declaring to the administrating firm that he had fixed the problem within an hour (rather than failing to fix it within two). That, I think, is worth a bottle of one of my better wines.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Blackberry Wine - Seventh Bottle (B4), 14th-16th March 2018

Returning home from WYSO, I asked if I should open a bottle and received a positive response. We had been rehearsing with the chorus for La traviata where the six men outsang the thirty or so women. I chose blackberry as a decent mid-week bottle. In past years, blackberry has been for special occasions only, but not this vintage.

I finished the wine on Friday after being in the audience of Vivaldi's Gloria  and Bach's  Magnificat. Claire was playing viola in the tiny orchestra. The Vivaldi was better than the Bach: it felt like the choir were more familiar with it. We walked back in the snow and warmed ourselves with alcohol.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Thirteenth Bottle (B6), 10th March 2018

Richard & Linda came round for a meal, and what a meal it was. We started with a carrot & orange soup accompanied by walnut sourdough bread. Our main course was a smoked mackerel quiche with potato slices roasted in lemon juice and rosemary. We broke for a cheese course and then finished up with rhubarb fool and ginger shortbread. Claire made it all (other than the cheese) and my contribution was shopping and tidying. I feel I got the better deal.

I opened a bottle of rhubarb wine on the basis that Richard prefers dry whites. He was really impressed with this one - thought it was one of the best of mine he had drunk. A grand evening.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Orange Wine - First Bottle (B1), 9th March 2018

There is water coming through our kitchen ceiling. This is not a feature one generally wants. 'Happily' this only started on Friday while Claire was in and it was dripping through a gap where pipes run down anyway. Dan Benn came round sharpish, stopped the pipe causing the problem and now we wait for a specialist plumber to fix it. The deal with the anxiety caused, Claire and I downed this bottle quickly - the wine is much the same as previous batches, if a little rougher - and retired upstairs early.

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

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Gooseberry Wine - First Bottle (3), 4th March 2018

Ordinarily I wait a year between picking fruit and drinking the first bottle of wine. However, I think that gooseberry may be a wine best drunk young, so I have opened this early. Also, it was a suitable bottle to take round to David & Liz's: we have given them six cuttings from our gooseberry plants and seeing as I have converted Liz to making her own wine, I thought I'd show her what gooseberry wine was like. This was a high-risk strategy: I have had some spectacular failures with gooseberry. It paid off. The wine is bone dry and has a bite to it. There is a slight fizz and the gooseberry taste is there on the first sip before retreating into a prosecco feel. This wine is definitely a hit.

Any guesses as to why I have chosen this image?
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Orange Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

My colleagues say that I am a creature of habit. I won't have my first cup of coffee until 9:30 and it must be 11 before my second. When 'lunch hour' was shifted by thirty minutes, I complained. This was not part of my established routine. Taking all this into account, it is unsurprising that I have stared a double batch of orange wine in March. It must be at least fifteen years in a row that I have done this.

I bought the oranges from Sainsbury's rather than going anywhere more exotic. Whilst I prefer shopping at small, local businesses, we were off to Sainsbury's anyway and their quality is consistently good. Plus the weather was poor - our road was still icy.

The thinly sliced orange peel
I started the wine on Sunday 4th March. The first job was to slice the top layer of peel from 12 of my 24 oranges as thinly as I could, and then cover this peel with 2 pints of boiling water. This is the most tedious part of making orange wine and I did particularly badly avoiding the pith. It took an age (helped along by Radio 4 Catch-Up) and by the end I just didn't care. Having completed this task, I covered the bowl containing peel and water with cling film and left this to one side.

The orange wine in its bucket
Next I squeezed all 24 oranges and measured the juice - 2¾ pints. This is one less pint than last year, which suggests this orange wine will not be as good. I put the juice into the bucket along with 10 pints of cold water and 5½ lbs sugar. I also added the yeast and a rounded teaspoon each of pectolase and nutrient at this point. 24 hours later I poured in the water that had been covering the peel into the bucket and I discarded the peel.

Orange wine fermenting in the bucket
I had meant to put the wine into its demijohns on Friday night but was otherwise distracted and did this on Saturday morning, 10th March, instead. The wine currently looks like orange squash - a jolly, opaque yellow.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - Fourth Bottle (1), 28th February- 1st March 2018

Britain really doesn't do snow well. We are in the grip of 'The Beast from the East', which has resulted in four inches of snow. The country is in lock down and there is only one topic of conversation. In fact, driving to work on Wednesday was slow and unpleasant. On Thursday I walked six miles instead, getting in late. But many people remained at home and the day was quiet.

On both nights we drank blackcurrant wine and I think deserve some congratulations for not finishing it as soon as it was opened. It is very drinkable and goes down like pop.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Elderflower Wine - Final Bottle (3), 22nd-28th February 2018

What better to go with fish pie than a bottle of elderflower wine? Quite a lot, it turns out. The first taste was on the verge of rancid. However, it improved dramatically for being left in the fridge: maybe exposure to oxygen helped (though that sounds implausible).

On Friday night when drinking this, a loveable character in The Archers was killed off through sepsis, and I found myself surprisingly affected. I spent the evening feeling low.

My two glasses on Saturday were after a chamber music concert in Todmorden. The concert itself was good - Dvorak's serenade for wind, cello and bass, and the Strauss Serenade Opus 7 - but it took me nearly two hours to get there. And rather than thanking me for making the effort (or even greeting me with a quick 'hello'), all the conductor said to me during the evening was "Could you help me shift the piano?". I won't be returning.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Fifteenth Bottle (A4), 25th February 2018

This really was an excellent bottle of wine. It had a true white wine taste with only a hint of Eastern Promise. We drank it in anticipation of a rose bed - I spent a couple of hours in the back garden, removing more of our lawn. Eventually we will have arches covered in rambling roses. Right now we have a kidney-shaped patch of earth.

Whilst Claire and I were drinking this bottle, Rachael and family were having a very different experience. A shop literally round the corner from her in Leicester exploded, killing five people. Rachael is fine if rattled. She heard a tremendous bang. A split-second later her house shook and a few minutes after that the police came round, insisting she evacuate. Terrible, yet vicariously exciting.

Round the corner from my sister

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Twelfth Bottle (C2), 17th-21st February 2018

On Saturday night, as Oscar season approaches, Claire and I watched La La Land, the movie which nearly won last year. It was alright, but both of us were surprised about its adulation. It is no Singin' in the Rain or Cabaret (neither of which won the Oscar either). What impressed me most were the long takes and the not quite Hollywood ending (but with a nod to Casablanca).

Accompanying this was a bottle of Rhubarb Wine, which is always a winner. We stretched the bottle from Saturday to Wednesday, which is unheard of. I had one glass on Sunday after a glass of real red, and the contrast made me realise quite how sweet my homemade wines are.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Blackberry Wine - Sixth Bottle (B3), 16th-17th February 2018

Maybe I should start drinking a little less. What I chiefly remember about this bottle is Saturday morning's headache. On Friday night we finished the orange wine (of which I had two glasses) and then started on this blackberry (at least another two). A headache intruded into my sleep and took most the morning to go. Claire is already drinking less, so what I am not to do is to make up her share. It isn't as if this blackberry is worth the hangover. It is fine - unmistakably blackberry in flavour with a slight fizz, but it is not its sumptuous best. Certainly on Saturday night I drank less and feel fine this Sunday morning.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Orange Wine - Ninth Bottle (B3), 13th-16th February 2018

I had Tuesday night in, and having avoided any booze on Sunday and Monday, I fancied a glass or two of wine. Claire is drinking less to see if her sleep improves, so she did not join in until Thursday. Thus far there has been no noticeable change, but it is early days.

We stretched the bottle until Friday evening. The four days it was open were unremarkable: on Wednesday I started watching Collateral - a BBC thriller with an amazing cast, and I can see that I will be gripped throughout. However, that is as exciting as things got.

Three members of an amazing cast

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Fig Wine - Third Bottle (5), 10th February 2018

We were over in York for this bottle of wine. Our last visit had been September and that is too long. It is lovely spending a relaxed, drunken evening with my parents. Pop cooked fish, Mom did the vegetables and pudding, and I opened the bottle.

This wine has a fizz to it and there is less body than previous vintages of Fig. However, it is one of those wines that is a 'grower': the first sip is uninteresting, but it curiously improves down the glass. Or is that just my faculties dimming?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine - First Bottle (A1), 9th February 2018

This prune & parsnip is drier than previous batches. It retains its sherry-like flavour but has moved away from its resemblance to Croft Original. I cannot detect parsnip and I when I mentioned this, Claire replied "You say that like it's a bad thing".  Claire and parsnips are not the best of friends. I think this wine may be more alcoholic than most. Usually I still feel relatively sober after half a bottle of wine. Not on this occasion. It made concentrating on Lewis for two hours more difficult than it might otherwise have been.

If you want to see how I made this wine, either read the post immediately posted before or (for this particular vintage) click here.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

February is not my favourite month. I don't think it falls within my top ten. The only good things about it are Valentine's Day (which is overrated), Shrove Tuesday (and we usually forget to have pancakes) and Prune & Parsnip Wine. Otherwise it is cold and wet and dark. Yesterday was particularly poor. It pissed it down all day. I had been looking forward to a quiet weekend in which I could do helpful things in the garden. It has certainly been quiet and actually I got into the garden today (4th February) and started clearing our patch of grass land (a failed experiment which mostly produced buttercups).

The base ingredients
Today, though, has been a perfect day to begin my Prune & Parsnip wine - a day when I haven't needed to be anywhere or do anything. I started off by dicing 4 lbs of parsnips (being extra careful not to sever my fingers) and boiling these in 16 (UK) pints of water. I did this in two halves and each half got 30 minutes of simmering, once the water containing the parsnips had come to the boil.

Half the parsnips chopped up and in the pan
While the first lot was on the hob, I chopped up 1 lb of prunes and put these in the bucket with 5 lbs 9 oz sugar.

All the prunes and sugar
Once the parsnips had received their allotted boiling time, I poured the water into the bucket, catching the parsnips in a colander. These were put in the bin - I suggested them as a pizza topping but Claire was not keen.

I added the yeast and a bit more than a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase the following morning (Monday). Whilst the wine was in its bucket the aroma was pure parsnip - not something I remember from previous batches. I stirred it once or twice a day and put the wine into its two demijohns on Friday evening, 9th February. To avoid liquid frothing through the air trap and all over the kitchen, I left a large gap in each demijohn, storing excess wine in a bottle. Saturday morning I started the topping up process, which will probably take a few days.

This is, by far and away, the brownest of all my wines.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Strawberry Wine - Third Bottle (6), 4th February 2018

I opened this bottle as a direct comparison for Strawberry 2017, which I bottled this afternoon. We had a difference of opinion: Claire preferred the more recent vintage whereas I liked this one better. We drank it to home-made pizza with molten mozzarella - the lining to the roof of my mouth has disintegrated - and watched an episode of QI. It being a Sunday night, I am drunker than I should be and am trying to sober up with bush tea. So far this is less successful than I would like. Still, tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Crab Apple Wine - 23rd Bottle (C3), 3rd February 2018

I nearly took this bottle with me to Book Group, but decided that a Rioja would be more acceptable. This was the correct decision, I think. There isn't anything wrong with this crab apple, but presenting it at Book Group at someone else's house would be a little weird. Instead, we drank it on Saturday after a day of doing not much at all - mostly lying on the chaise-longue reading The Wimbledon Poisoner (not a book I would recommend, but rather lighter than East West Street). Claire cooked a fabulous fish stew and we watched Lewis whilst finishing the bottle. Lewis was well plotted and entertaining; the bottle was a bog-standard crab apple.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - Third Bottle (2), 27th January 2018

This bottle of blackcurrant wine rounded off an excellent day. Chris and Kate came over, and the first thing we did was to experience an Escape Room. This is a concept where you are locked in a room for an hour with a series of puzzles to solve against the clock. It was a huge amount of fun, and we did it with 3 minutes to spare. Then we chatted to Todd and Anne via Skype, planning our trip to San Francisco in October and catching up generally. Finally, we had a wonderful meal of various curries made by Claire. I know that none of that makes interesting reading but good days rarely do!

The wine was far better than the Mango wine finished earlier, but that sets a low bar.

The Escape Room from which we escaped

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Mango Wine - Fifth Bottle (3), 26th-27th January 2018

I see that it is exactly a year since I last opened a bottle of Mango Wine. It will be some time before I open the final bottle. This was truly horrible. I only once got a hint of a taste resembling fruit. Otherwise the wine was dry and bitter and did not even have the grace to be interesting. Of course we finished the bottle - though it took a Friday and Saturday to do so.

On Saturday Chris and Kate were here. After a bottle of champagne, to celebrate their engagement (my brother, getting married!) I poured them each a glass of Mango. Kate was distinctly unimpressed and declined to finish her glass. How rude!

Monday, 29 January 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Second Bottle (A5), 25th-26th January 2018

It is not often that we have steak, and when we do, we have it rare. Our freezer is in desperate need of a defrost, so we are gradually eating our way through its contents. This steak dates from December 2016. It was still delicious, with a wonderful mushroom sauce and potatoes fried with expertise (by me). Of course we needed something red to go with it, and this Christmas Tutti Fruti is, in fact, rather good. There is a slight fizz and plenty of flavour. It being Burns Night, I had already had a stiff whisky and it being a Thursday I though it unwise to finish the bottle. The remnants were saved for tonight, before opening a bottle of Nasty Mango Wine.

Our freezer isn't quite this bad!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Rose Petal Wine - Seventh Bottle (B1), 21st January 2018

Drinking three bottles on a Sunday night between four is excessive. I felt croaky the following day, blaming a nascent cold, but knowing that alcohol had its part to play. However, we had just come back from an Airedale Concert, where Brahms' 2nd Symphony went particularly well, and we were entertaining Rachel, Duncan and Ruth. So, I have my excuses.

The Rose Petal followed a bottle of Prosecco, and was a good wine. It is Rachel's favourite of mine and I think this vintage is as interesting and tasty as any I have made. Still, I should really have stopped there.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Prune & Parsnip Wine 2015 - Final Bottle (B4), 19th January 2018

This bottle of Prune & Parsnip was particularly good. It had a rounded depth to it and was easy to drink. It was our Friday night bottle and, as is often the case at the end of the week, we drank it to aged-vegetable curry and then sat in front of the fire, reading, before an early night. My book is East West Street by Philippe Sands - which deals with the author's family history 1900-1950, Nazi atrocities and the development of International Law. And ideal book while slipping into inebriation.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Inca Berry & Raisin Wine - First Bottle (4), 18th-19th January 2018

I had feared the worst for this wine. It was made only tick off a letter and there was no way that it would even be drinkable. Therefore, it is with some astonishment that I can report it is actually really rather good. Inca Berry & Raisin is a dark golden colour and has a solid wine taste (I suspect that will be the raisins). Claire is less enthusiastic, describing the wine as 'Inoffensive' and 'One step below nice'. We raised our glasses to Adam, for the idea, and drank to lamb chops and chips. I cooked - and the food (if I do say so) was excellent. The lamb was marinated in olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic, a teaspoon of sea salt, a good deal of ground pepper and a dollop of chilli paste. Claire insisted that I make a record of what I did. Behold the record!

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

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Elderberry Wine - Ninth Bottle (B2), 14th January 2018

This elderberry wine has matured superbly. It is velvet smooth and has a rounded flavour. It is sweet enough to accompany game pie (which is lucky, because that is what we had) without being so sweet as to block all other tastes. The game pie was excellent, using up the venison and cranberries saved from Christmas. I can't remember having eaten a better savoury pie.

I have spent much of the evening lying on the chaise-longue reading a 1930s classic crime novel - The Hog's Back Mystery - where the puzzle was everything and characterisation was minimal. Enjoyable and interesting as a period piece but little more than that.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Blackcurrant Wine - Twentieth Bottle (C2), 13th January 2018

The most notable part of today does not involve wine at all. Claire has started trombone lessons. This was my birthday present to her - my colleagues thought it a terrible idea, but Claire had an excellent time and I am now expecting delivery of a plastic trombone at some point this week. I can only imagine how the cats (and neighbours) will react when she starts practising.

We drank this bottle of blackcurrant wine to a lentil lasagne and then to The King's Speech on DVD. I enjoyed both the wine and the film but did not love either of them. Blackcurrant wine and films about English aristocracy are both dependable.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Ginger Wine 2018 - The Making Of...

Now that I have finished my Wine Alphabet, I am inclined only to make nice wines. Experimentation is all well and good, but when I look through my wine cellar I see that I still have too many bottles of Punishment Wine. I have yet to finish Whitecurrant, Vanilla, Lemon & Lime or Ya Ya Pear, and I haven't even started drinking Inca Berry & Raisin, or bottling Jasmine Tea. All were made to tick a letter off my list and I wonder if these will be left for my executors to distribute. Therefore, I have promoted Ginger Wine to a regular - on the basis that 2016's batch was so good - and it will now be my January brew. It should remain a single batch wine, however, on the basis that it has an unusual taste.

The ingredients measured out
I started making this wine on Sunday, 7th January and I have followed my 2016 instructions nearly precisely so far. I weighed out a 5 oz piece of root ginger and 1 lb sultanas, and I counted out four lemons. I skinned the ginger and then sliced it finely - so finely that it is more accurate to refer to the pieces as shavings. Each lemon had the outermost bit of peel sliced off - this was a dull task and I was not entirely successful in avoiding the pith. I minced the sultanas in the food processor and squeezed the lemons. The ginger, outermost lemon peel, sultanas and lemon juice all went into the bucket and I poured 3½ pints of boiling water over it. I am dubious that leaving this 24 hours before I put in 2½ lbs of sugar and another 3½ pints of boiling water has any effect, but this is what I did in 2016 and therefore what I did this time.

The ingredients prepared and in the bucket
I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of Pectolase and Nutrient on Tuesday morning. After stirring the mix once or twice a day, I put the wine into its demijohn on Friday 12th January - Claire's birthday. This was a quick job, which was a Good Thing, because we weren't allowed to have Claire's Birthday Champagne until I had finished.

I left a large gap in the demijohn overnight to allow the initial vigorous fermentation to settle down before topping it up from the wine saved over.

For this wine, my water measurements were exactly right and I have a good feeling about how it will all turn out (and if that isn't tempting fate, I don't know what is).

Ginger Wine in its demijohn