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I have been making wine at home for more than 20 years and for several years took part in club and regional competitions.

My grandmother made small quantities of wine at home and, as a youngster, this always fascinated me. One year I was enlisted to help collect some of the flowers. To my shame, I remember collecting flowers of coltsfoot. This was, however, long before wild flowers received protection from the law.

Home wine making does not have the highest of reputations and is often the butt of jokes. Are you, like me, old enough to remember (or have UK Gold TV channel) Reginald Iolanthe Perrin's son-in-law Tom, who made nettle wine? There was also Tom Good's pea-pod Burgundy in The Good Life.

When I first began making wine I used fruits, such as blackberries and rosehips, and flowers such as dandelion and rose. I also made an acceptable wine from cold tea! Concentrated grape juice began to feature in my ingredients and I experimented with published recipes and ideas of my own.

Since the 1980s, most of my wine has been made from fruit juices with unsweetened pure apple juice as the main ingredient. This came about as a result of my experience with '3-week' wine kits and ideas discussed during a home wine seminar. I moved from using 1 gallon demi-johns to 5 gallon plastic fermenters.

Home-made wine The recipe on the next page encourages experimentation. I have used many mixes of fruit juices and all have produced drinkable wine, but some suit my taste better than others. My most consistent favourite is 4 litres of apple juice with 3 litres of tropical fruit blend. Peach and apricot juices can work well with apple juice, but sometimes produce large amounts of sediment from the pulp - this can mean straining the fermented juices or suffering big losses when racking.

Rosť wine can be made by using red grape juice with apple juice, although this gives a blush wine. A 'redder' rosť can be made by adding red grape concentrate to apple juice. Do experiment; find out what works for you and what you like best.

A useful, labour-saving tip is to bottle the wine using PET fizzy drinks bottles. They keep wine in perfect condition and avoid many of the problems of using glass bottles and corks.

Click this link to the recipe page.

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