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.

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

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Apple & Strawberry Wine - Second Bottle (5), 10th-11th January 2018

Last time we drank a bottle of this flavour, I thought it better than anyone else did. This time Claire enjoyed it more than I. It is a light wine with an unusual taste - almost herby. I could not detect strawberry and only a hint of apple.

We drank half the bottle after WYSO. This term we are doing a semi-staged performance of La traviata and whilst we are without the chorus or soloist, it is currently a Karaoke version, with the conductor singing all parts surprisingly tunelessly.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Ugli Fruit Wine - Fourth Bottle (4), 6th January 2017

Today I stared Death in the face. Leeds City Museum has had an exhibition of 12 skeletons laid out in glass cases, with notes about what the bones can reveal. The oldest two were Iron Age, the most recent, Victorian. Whilst there was the initial gruesome shock, this exhibition was respectful and moving, never letting the visitor forget that these had been people with their own thoughts, joys and woes. (I was really in town to buy Claire birthday presents - six pencils and a book - and me shoes.)

In the evening we drank Ugli Fruit Wine - which is really very palatable. I think it is the smoothest of citrus wines, but due to the fruit's accessibility, one I am unlikely to repeat.

Note the green teeth: this skeleton had been buried under the Royal Mint,
and it was the copper from that process that discoloured her teeth.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Strawberry Wine 2015 - Fifth Bottle (4), 31st December 2017

Another New Year's Eve, another fail at staying awake until midnight. This year I did particularly badly: I don't think it was even ten o'clock. I blame the exercise and fresh air (an extraordinarily muddy 5 mile walk around Wimpole). That, and the food and drink.

This bottle of strawberry has not improved on keeping. It retains its colour and strawberry scent, but has lost clarity and taste. I thought I had brought something rather special for Rachel & Duncan, but this wine was got through, rather than enjoyed.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Ginger Wine - Final Bottle (4), 30th December 2017

What a marvellous bottle of wine - though my judgment may have been clouded by the large Margherita that I had immediately before it. The ginger wine was dry, gingery (though not too much) and delicious.

We are in Cambridge staying at Duncan and Rachel's for New Year, and that always involves excessive alcohol and good food. Between us we got through a large slab of baked salmon, a jug of hollandaise sauce with grapefruit shavings and two further bottles of wine. Feasting is my favourite part of this time of year.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Rhubarb Wine - Eleventh Bottle (C5), 27th December 2017

We have been entertaining this Christmas. Naturally I am always Entertaining (and will fight anyone who disputes this) but our house has been full of people for four days. With Sooz, Bob & Judith having been shipped off, Rachael, Paul, Myles and my parents have come to experience our hospitality. Claire cooked a chicken and mushroom pie and I opened a bottle of rhubarb, though I think I drank most of it myself. My liver needs time to recover.

It was a lovely evening full of food, booze and present opening (mostly for Myles, who is delightful).

What the last week has felt like

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Blackberry Wine - Fifth Bottle (C3), 26th-27th December 2017

This vintage of blackberry is growing on me and maybe that is down to it aging beyond 'Very Young'. It is gaining in complexity. I wasn't, however, in the best position to judge when it was opened. In terms of Christmas Excess, this bottle fit right in at the end of Boxing Day after I was already three sheets to the wind. The 27th was even more alcohol fueled, if anything, but I started with this.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Xmas Tutti Fruti - Ninth Bottle (A3), 25th-26th December 2017

It was unanimously decided that 2015's batch of Christmas Tutti Fruti was not as good as 2016's, despite having a whole year's extra maturation time. It is less fruity, less rounded, less interesting - just Less. This isn't to say it is poor, but it is many stops away from Special. Christmas was excellent, though, and Boxing Day spent as it should be - much sitting around followed by a walk with Sooz and Judith to Roundhay Park, circumference -ing the Lake and back again, where more booze awaited.