Tuesday 21 February 2012

Meet Ben Hardy

I first met Ben Hardy on Authonomy and found his book on wine-making - then a work-in-progress - a refreshing read, laid out in short appetising chapters and washed down with a good home-brewed humour. It was clear then that this book had great potential and so it didn't surprise me at all when it was snapped up by The Good Life Press.

My Review

If you think this is just another book on wine-making you'd be totally wrong. Yes, wine is the raison d'ĂȘtre for the book but it's as much about the accompanying events which enrich the whole wine-making and wine-drinking experience: the food, the friends, the family members, the cats, the classical music, the dissertations on medieval childbirth and other little anecdotes that almost make you feel a participant in the Hardy household. The book is divided into sections according to wine flavour (and there are many), and we are privy to the agonies and ecstasies of each new flavour, from the picking (or buying), to the stalking, mashing or cutting of the fruit (or vegetable), to the bottling, maturing and eventual drinking. The events are relayed with a wit, sometimes dry, at other times sparkly, just like the various wines. Banana, plum and blackberry are some of the fruits employed, even exotic tinned fruit, though Hardy strongly advises against the potato. "I think this is the most disgusting wine I have ever made or supped. It's bitter and tastes of raw potatoes," he writes with his usual candour. I'm not at all surprised that the Barley Wine tasted like Carlsberg Special either - as a teen I would drink both to get off my head quickly and cheaply, though the Barley Wine was pretty bitter and disgusting to my youthful palate. I am also very averse to rhubarb but I must say that the description of something more akin to pink champagne and no hint of rhubarb did sound very enticing. One gets the feeling that corks are popping and wine exploding all the time in the Hardy household and when they're not drinking the stuff or having Wine Parties for friends to rate Ben's wines, they're foraging, picking, racking, bottling and keeping a journal. One wonders how Ben and his wife Claire - whose home-made dishes are usually a mouth-watering accompaniment - have time for all their other pursuits.

About the Author

From Leeds, Ben turned 40 last year, and he describes the last decade as being “a strange mix of wine making, commercial property, playing the bassoon and medieval history.”  You will hear a lot more about his interests in his book and his blog.

Read more about 'what happened next' at Ben's blog.

Ben's book can be purchased in paperback at Amazon - now at £9.74