The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Angela’s recipe for elderflower champagne

Posted in Wine | 5 comments

Angela’s recipe for elderflower champagne

Elderflower champagne is a wonderful drink and this article shows you how to make it. One of the secrets is in preparing the water you use.

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Recipe for vin de noix and tasting notes

Posted in Wine | 6 comments

Recipe for vin de noix and tasting notes

Even though you won’t be able to make this fortified wine until next June or July I’m posting the recipe now as vin de noix has a Christmasy feel. It’s definitely a winter tipple and decanted into pretty bottles would make a great Christmas present. Traditional vin de noix (walnut wine) is made from young walnuts, red wine, distilled alcohol and sugar. These are walnuts that can easily be quartered and are just starting to form their shells. This is the reason why I made this wine initially. I’d left it too late to make pickled walnuts...

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Walnut Wine – Vin de Noix

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Walnut Wine – Vin de Noix

Having started the pickled walnuts I still had loads of nuts left over, so I looked around for other green walnut recipes. I was tempted by an Italian walnut liqueur that my last hairdresser makes every year. He buys pure alcohol in Italy and makes enough to last him until the next annual visit. He loved it and his wife hated it. Perhaps a perfect state of affairs when it comes to sharing precious grog. Some recipes suggested that it could be made with vodka but I decided to wait until we visit Italy again and can buy the alcohol. Finally, I...

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Homemade wine tasting

Posted in Wine | 17 comments

Homemade wine tasting

I sampled our two and three year old rhubarb wine on Monday. And the 2006 greengage wine. All pretty good and as Danny said, “They taste just like wine.” But I reckoned that they need more time. As Daphne Moore writes in Discovering Country Winemaking, a wine that is unpalatable can often improve with keeping. Now I can see where she is coming from. I started winemaking with enormous enthusiasm and hope. I like wine. Always fancy a glass or two with supper. If we could make our own gluggable wine it would be brilliant. So I...

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Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Posted in Wine | 25 comments

Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Have you ever tasted dandelion wine? Dandelions can be annoying in the garden. They’re a palaver to remove as their tap roots are thick and sturdy. But they are the key ingredient in an excellent homemade white table wine. Gilbert will sometimes pour a glass if you pop round on a summer’s evening. As long as you are on foot. The first time that I sampled his patent recipe, it slipped down like water from a clear cold stream. I accepted a second glass. After the third, I had to feel my way home. Two years ago I picked the dandelions...

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Book review: A great country winemaking book for under a fiver

Posted in Reviews, Wine | 0 comments

Book review: A great country winemaking book for under a fiver

I found this book Discovering Country Winemaking by Daphne More on the church fete bookstall a couple of years ago. A snitch at 30p. It’s pocket size disguises it’s value. In fact, it was several months before I flopped beside the fire and gave it the attention that it deserves. Daphne More, a well known journalist, has written a number of books focussing on country interests. I wasn’t surprised to see recently that this one is still in print after 27 years. Her gentle and yet authoritative style would appeal to all country...

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Bottling the wild damson wine

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Bottling the wild damson wine

It was Joe Cox who finally tipped me over to making country wine. Joe is a central character in Joanne Harris’ novel Blackberry Wine. I loved the book and was intrigued by Joe. Half way through the novel I was trawling the internet for winemaking equipment. By the time I was reading the last page Danny and I were speeding down to Somerset to collect a vast collection of winemaking gear that I had bought on eBay. A few people were encouraging. Most thought I was mad and muttered darkly about their experience with wine kits in the...

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Book review: Two good books for winemaking by C J J Berry and Gillian Pearks

Posted in Reviews, Wine | 2 comments

Book review: Two good books for winemaking by C J J Berry and Gillian Pearks

Back in the seventies, when buying a bottle of wine was an expensive treat, the author C. J. J. Berry shot to fame with his series of amateur winemaking books. This is the rather smooth looking character on the left. He cashed in on the great home winemaking boom of the sixties and seventies. As glugable wine began to fill supermarket shelves, the home winemaking craze declined and you could often find his books in charity shops. Now that country winemaking is enjoying a small renaissance his books are becoming sought after again. The best of...

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